Survey finds most young adults will leave region

July 24th, 2012

News Coverage:

Survey finds most young adults will leave region

RICK FARRANT - rfarrant@fwbusiness.com

Tuesday, Jul. 24, 2012 at 9:25am

Sixty-two percent of people roughly 15 to 25 years old intend to leave northeast Indiana, putting the onus on regional leaders interested in developing or retaining talent to provide opportunities for them to stay or return, a Millennial 2020 survey suggests.

Millennial 2020 is part of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Vision 2020 initiative, which is working to foster regional collaboration involving five economic growth pillars: 21st-century talent; a competitive business climate; entrepreneurship; infrastructure; and quality of life.

Millennial 2020, propelled by a 10-county, 27-member Millennial Leaders Alliance, essentially wants to give the so-called millennial generation a “seat at the table” in forging the region’s economic future, organizers said.

The recent survey drew 2,716 responses, more than 70 percent of them from people 15 to 17 years old. Erica Hahn, project coordinator for Vision 2020, said the disproportionate number of respondent millennials in that age bracket stemmed from the relatively easy access to people in school.

Hahn and Tori Rowe, Millennial 2020 coordinator, said more than 24 percent of young people who said they planned to leave the region cited college or travel as reasons. Nearly 19 percent said they planned to leave for career opportunities.

The survey did not ask if those intending to leave expected to return at some point after gaining education or life experience.

Nevertheless, Rowe said there would appear to be a need to “provide the opportunities for them to come back. Provide the career opportunities. Provide the networking opportunities.”

Said Hahn: “And some of it is not just providing the opportunity, but telling them that there is an opportunity. I think there’s a disconnect about knowing if an opportunity exists.”

The good news, Rowe and Hahn said, is 94 percent of those surveyed said they intended to earn a postsecondary certification or degree.

Regional economic-development leaders have been stressing the need for a skilled, educated work force to meet the needs of 21st-century employers.

Among the other survey findings, some of which coincided with the Vision 2020 pillars:

• A string of quality-of-life attributes topped the list of amenities millennials deem important, including leisure and recreation, a clean environment and aesthetics.

• Respondents believe they can best make a difference in northeast Indiana through community involvement, cleaning up the environment, and either getting an education or advocating for an improved educational system.

• In considering challenges to creating “the best northeast Indiana,” the top concern was ensuring quality of opportunity through such things as career advancement, support for entrepreneurs or simply job availability.

Millennial 2020 will conduct a free, first-ever summit from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the USF Performing Arts Center in downtown Fort Wayne. M2020 Spark Tank will assist young people in pursuing their passions and planning projects that address needs in the region. Two projects will each receive at least $500 in seed money.

Nearly 120 young people have registered for the event, and organizers believe many more will attend without registering.

Keynote speaker at the event will be entrepreneur Gary Hoover, founder of the pioneering book superstore Bookstop, which was ultimately sold to Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million.