North Carolina in the New Economy: Case Studies from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association: Planning for Prosperity: Understanding the Economic Perceptions and Community Preferences of the Millennial Generation
Other Affiliation: Planning Director, Town of Morrisville, NC
Recently, I walked past a door in downtown Durham and saw our economic future flash before my eyes. There was a sign with a red and white icon, and the words “Two Toasters” written on it. This was not an appliance retailer with a limited inventory, but rather a high-tech start-up that develops cutting-edge mobile apps for customers such as Airbnb, Zumba Fitness, and Ebates. This start-up could be located in Mumbai or Moscow, but instead its founders chose downtown Durham. The reason? Talent attraction. What I saw also highlighted the fundamental importance of planning in ensuring our economic prosperity. More and more, companies cite the importance of skilled labor in achieving success in a global economy. Millennials are now the largest segment of the population nationally, and are close to surpassing Gen X in total numbers in North Carolina, where the population is slightly older than the national average. Millennials are also a highly mobile population. Understanding what they want and how they make their locational decisions has become an undertaking of fundamental importance to our state’s economic well-being. To better understand how to attract and retain Millennials, the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC) worked with APA National in 2014 to conduct a special poll. APA hired HarrisPoll, now part of Nielsen, to conduct a scientific survey focusing on the economic perceptions and community preferences of Millennials (ages 21-34), both in North Carolina and nationwide. HarrisPoll also surveyed Generation Xers (ages 35-49) and Active Boomers (ages 50-65). More details on the polling methodology are included in the corresponding sidebar. Here are the results, along with selected commentary on their implications for planning and economic development initiatives.