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Getting degree, moving on

July 24th, 2012

News Coverage:

Published: July 24, 2012 3:00 a.m.

Getting degree, moving on

Split view feeds Friday event

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

The millennial generation has spoken.

More than nine of 10 participants in a poll of 2,700 northeast Indiana’s younger residents plan to get a degree or additional training after high school.

That’s good news for area economic development leaders, who have been sounding the alarm that the region’s workforce isn’t prepared for future high-tech job requirements.

But there’s bad news, too. The survey found three of every four poll participants plan to move away.

Those and other results will be announced Friday morning at M2020 Spark Tank, an all-day event focused on how residents ages 15 to 25 can make the region a better place to live.

Spark Tank will allow younger participants to convert their passions into practical projects and pitch them to community leaders, who will also attend the event.

The two best ideas will receive $500 each in seed money.

More than 100 millennials are already registered to attend.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership early this year set out to gather good ideas from a 10-county region and empower young community leaders to make them a reality.

Erica Hahn, Vision 2020 coordinator, wasn’t surprised by the survey results, although she noted some ambiguity around the question about the living in northeast Indiana.

Because more than 70 percent of survey participants were 15 to 17 years old, it’s unclear whether they plan to leave the region permanently or just long enough to earn a college degree and maybe get some early work experience before returning, she said.

Survey participants were asked to describe in their own words what the best possible version of northeast Indiana would include.

The three most popular categories of answers were related to leisure and recreation, the environment and aesthetics.

When asked about actions they could take to make a difference, most respondents wrote in ideas related to community involvement, the environment and education.

Tori Rowe, the Millennial 2020 coordinator, is interning with the Regional Partnership for the summer. She’s optimistic that – with a little guidance – her generation can make her hometown of Fort Wayne a better place to live.

“Sometimes all it takes,” she said, “is a tap on the shoulder, a couple cups of coffee and somebody telling you how to do it.”