Friday, August 15, 2008

Engaging the Millennial Generation

I’ve become convinced in my travels and research that the major wave of the future for small towns is the engagement of your young people, the Millennial Generation. The Heartland Center for Leadership Development in Lincoln, NE is on the cutting edge of this movement and is doing a three day conference on “HomeTown YouthForce: Engaging the Entrepreneurial Generation” November 18-20 in Nebraska City, NE.

I spoke with Don Macke and Craig Schroeder about the program this past week. Don told me, “Our focus is on how to get the youth in a town engaged and attracted. We’re focusing upon leadership, mentoring and also entrepreneurism. We’ve seen some towns that are doing pieces of this but none that has pulled all of them together. We hope that communities will look upon their youth as a backbone strategy for their town’s future.”

Craig added, “If we do everything right in our towns, but lose our youth for the next 20 years, all of the good things that we might have done will have been for naught.”

He went on, “We’ve found in our research that 50 to 60 percent of the youth at the junior high and high school level would like to come back home after college, but often only 2 to 10 percent actually come home. There is a real gap between what they want to do and what they can do because of economic circumstances.”

If my travel and talk schedule allows, I’m intending to be there for what looks to me to be a great conference on our most important asset. Hope to see you there.

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