Young people would like to stay in Flint, and the community sure needs them to take an active role in the city’s resurgence.
There are obstacles and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver wants to help the millennials overcome them. She hopes the young, ambitious demographic targeted in her Millennial Day forums will help city stakeholders better understand and address professional and economic development opportunities critical in retaining talent.
The theme of outreach at Weaver’s Sept. 18 reception was centered on asking Flint millennials a single question: What will it take to keep you here?
For many assembled at the second in a series of planned Millennial Day gatherings the simple answer was jobs and economic opportunities.
Participants also reminded stakeholders that they stand among America’s growing entrepreneurial class, a segment that is relatively unafraid of business risks associated with independent ventures. Many expressed the need for the city to identify and promote more accessible entrepreneurial funding, visible job postings, affordable housing and heightened social media posts to improve Flint’s image.
“You can help us do that now,” says Weaver, encouraging the crowd to create and “own” their own hashtags promoting the positivity of Flint.
“The word is spreading. I heard Flint is a great place for young people,” says Kat Klawes, a Northern Mihigan University graduate who recently moved to the city to take advantage of personal and professional growth opportunities.
Many of the millennials who hope to become job creators asked the mayor about start-up funding geared toward young entrepreneurs, who frequently lack the the kind of collateral typically required by traditional funders.
“There are programs available to you now,” says the Mayor, who invited city staffers to share additional details.
Leveraging strength in numbers was a common thread of the evening’s conversation, particularly as it related to providing better quality housing for young professionals. The residents hope the city will answer their call to establish affordable hubs to live in with a vibrant city center of their peers.
The mayor says she left the event with a feeling that the majority of millennials indeed want to remain in Flint.
Weaver also left with a lengthy “to do” list. “And that’s exactly what I hoped for,” she says.