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From classroom to the real world

April 22, 2016

Professor Robin Johnson’s Integrated Studies 416: Politics and Government in the Midwest class took the idea of ‘citizenship’ seriously during their semester-long project. Eighteen students researched what factors attract millennials to cities in an effort to help the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development (KCAPED) increase Galesburg’s millennial population.

The importance of this issue is somewhat of a growing concern in the Midwest today. Anthony Howe, a student in INTG 416, said, “If young people aren’t attracted and a city’s current younger population isn’t sticking around, cities get older and older until they die.” This chain of events can be seen in towns like Galesburg, which is currently seeing a decline in their millennial population.

After finding programs in cities that have successfully increased their 18-34 age demographic from 2000 to 2010, the class submitted a proposal to KCAPED. Forrest Inness, Julianna Graf and Josh Sutherland presented the class’ findings to show them what other cities in the country were doing in an effort to attract millennials. The presentation suggested ways Galesburg could adopt similar strategies.

The group also conducted a survey of 210 Monmouth College juniors and seniors to determine what students look for when deciding where to live after college. In the class’ final report, they wrote, “Participants mentioned that they would consider living in Galesburg if the city offered well-paying job and internship opportunities as well as certain amenities.” As students took the class’ survey, Galesburg’s lack of entertainment became a problematic factor when students were asked to consider the city as a viable place to live.

Solutions such as student loan reimbursement, paid internships and small business promotions were proposed by the class after researching programs in other cities and gathering data from the survey. The class found that these ideas have worked to attract millennials when applied in towns similar to Galesburg, making them strong contenders to increase the younger age demographic.

Howe believes that millennials might want to move to Galesburg if they like the quiet life. Howe said, “Things move slowly in Galesburg. There’s always a place to park. The type of person who is averse to crowds might like to call Galesburg home.”

The suggestions from the class seemed to have an impact on how KCAPED will move forward in developing Galesburg to make it more attractive to the desired age group. Ken Springer, president of the KCAPED, said that the information provided by the MC students, especially the survey, will be useful for the future of Galesburg. “We hope to expand the reach of the class’ survey by bringing it to regional community colleges and possibly even to the high school level.”

Springer also mentioned the importance of millennials in today’s economy. “Communities from coast to coast have taken notice and are now paying closer attention to attracting and retaining talented workers – particularly the coveted “millennial” demographic. Our question was simple: How are communities finding success with attracting and retaining millennials?”

Springer believes that the work done by the INTG class will greatly help the city of Galesburg in working toward attracting millennials.

Timothy Yates
Staff Writer

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