Millennials To Small Cities: Ready Or Not, Here We Come

By Tim Henderson
Stateline.org

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “As the economy improves and millennials move around the country in search of jobs, some are finding themselves far from the youth culture they learned to expect from city life in other parts of the country.”

COLUMBUS, Ind.

Tyler and Alissa Hodge, two of the hundreds of young professionals who have moved here in recent years, noticed that despite the influx there was not a single city-style coffee shop downtown.

So the couple opened one in May, with sofas, baked goods and local micro-roaster beans, adding a play area as a nod to the family-friendly culture of this southern Indiana city and their own three children.

“The 18- to 35-year-olds expect something like that, but they just didn’t have it,” said Tyler Hodge, 32, who used crowdfunding to help finance the shop. The same tactic was used for a rock climbing gym opened in September by a group of young engineers who, like Hodge, spend their weekdays working at Cummins Inc., the diesel engine company that is the city’s largest employer.

“There’s not that much to do here for the young people,” said Juan Valencia, a 25-year-old Colombian immigrant who is one of the founders of the climbing gym. “We think this will help.”

Before the gym opened, aficionados had to drive an hour north to Indianapolis or south to Louisville, Ky., for an indoor climbing wall.

As the economy improves and millennials move around the country in search of jobs, some are finding themselves far from the youth culture they learned to expect from city life in other parts of the country. But the tradeoff can be a less burdensome cost of living, a more tightknit community, and a chance to make new towns their own.

A Stateline analysis of census data showed the Columbus metro area at the top of a list of cities that have attracted young, educated people from out of state, yet are still relatively affordable.

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