Our Urban Challenge: Young Professionals

I was in Florida when the following news article was published in the Springfield News-Leader on 5 January: How Can We Attract Young Professionals?

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Expanding local trails, banning public smoking and confronting the city’s lack of diversity are ways for Springfield to attract and retain young professionals, according to a presentation Tuesday to City Council.

The suggestions came as part of a report from The Network, a Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce group for workers age 21-40.

Following up on a 2009 consultant’s report ranking Springfield in categories important to a young, educated workforce, a Network task force developed ideas for improvement.

“We came up with four things we think are really do-able initiatives,” said Ryan DeBoef, a local attorney who chaired the task force.

The first suggestion, he said, was the continued expansion of city trails and bicycle routes for recreation and transportation.

“Trails are parks to young people,” DeBoef said. “People love these trails and it would be great if we could use them to get somewhere.”

DeBoef said the group found that many young professionals want to be able to bike to work, but existing trails and urban bike routes are insufficient.

Seems like a no-brainer. If you want to attract (or keep) talented young professionals, then it’s a good idea to create a living (urban) environment that meets exactly the needs listed in this article. As listed today in Editor David Stoeffler’s column:

  • Expand trails and bike routes for recreation and transportation.
  • Enact a smoking ban in bars, restaurants and other public places.
  • Improve wages by supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses.
  • Address the lack of diversity through increased awareness and support for minority-owned businesses.

This is what the young professional themselves say they want as articulated by The Network. Perhaps we should listen.

Reading the 165 comments, however, is a bit disheartening.

Our Urban Challenge Series:

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