Marron offers tips on harnessing the energy of millennials and baby boomers

November 30, 2014

John Marron, one of the Institute’s Senior Policy Analysts and an AICP, recently presented to a full house at the 90th National League of Cities (NLC) Congress in Austin, Texas. He discussed how cities can advance their competitiveness through harnessing the energy of millennials (born approximately 1980-1999) and baby boomers (born 1946-1964).

City leaders need strategies to welcome, connect with, engage and perhaps recruit the talents of these generations, Marron added.

He was invited by NLC due to the Institute’s participation in the Lifelong Indiana Coalition, part of the national Community AGEnda project funded by Grantmakers in Aging with support from the Pfizer Foundation.

The Millennial (born approximately 1980-1999) and Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) generations are the two largest generations in the United States and have been behind much of the urbanization trends occurring across the country.

Shifts in housing, employment and access to amenities and services are driving both Millennials and Boomers to communities with a more urban footprint, offering opportunities for cities to capitalize on these group’s civic energy and buying power. These populations are looking for many of the same amenities in their neighborhoods, bringing a wealth of energy and expertise, along with a drive to have a voice in decision-making.

Marron co-presented with NLC staff and Jasmine Gore, Vice Mayor of Hopewell, Virginia. As part of a facilitated discussion, Marron and Gore examined housing and retail trends among these generations, engagement strategies beyond typical public engagement, and offered specific tools for encouraging these groups’ participation in a city’s civic life.

Specifically, Marron drew on his experience in working with Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Huntington to introduce city leaders to the shared characteristics of these populations and discussed strategies to welcome, connect with, engage and perhaps recruit the talents of these generations.

Using a live, work, play, and give framework – as the Bloomington aspect of the Community AGEnda project has been framed by local stakeholders and MKM Architecture – he discussed the importance of developing strategies that are forward-thinking and relevant to these generations.

He also shared examples from the work of the Institute’s partner, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, to discuss how nonprofits can help shape these conversations in local communities as well.

About the Lifelong Indiana Coalition

The Lifelong Indiana Coalition works across public and private sectors to secure broad, inclusive support for policies, investments and direct services that make Hoosier communities more age and ability friendly, work that creates more attractive, livable, and competitive places for Indiana residents to call home.

About Community AGEnda

Community AGEnda is a partnership with five American communities to accelerate their efforts to become great places to grow up and grow old. Community AGEnda was launched in 2012 with a $1.3 million grant from the Pfizer Foundation to Grantmakers In Aging (GIA), then renewed in 2013 with a second grant totaling $1.35 million and renewed again in 2014 with a third grant for $1.49 million. The initiative awarded grants to local organizations in five regions to fund activities (some planned and some already underway) to make those communities more age-friendly. Because each community has its own dynamics, assets, and challenges, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to making a place more age-friendly.