written with help from Shelby Mertes, Partnership for Strong Communities
A new state-wide initiative called “Young Energetic Solutions,” or YES, met for the second time to brainstorm strategies to recruit additional young talent for their cause and build a structured state-wide presence that will attract more people in their 20s and 30s to Connecticut. Started by the Partnership for Strong Communities, a statewide housing advocacy organization, the group is still very early in its planning stages and left the meeting resolving to cultivate local hubs of engaged and energetic young people in four of the state’s communities: Hartford, Middletown, Windham, and New Haven. Longer-term next steps include establishing a Steering Committee comprised of young professionals and an Advisory Committee of individuals more seasoned in policy, business and other sectors.
YES is building off of the recommendations made in A New American Dream: Change is Not So Bad, which lists several factors influencing a young person’s decision of where to live. The document discusses issues such as Connecticut’s high housing costs, the difficulties of getting around without a car, and concerns around crime and safety. A New American Dream also advocates for affordable housing, neighborhoods “with cohesion and sense of identity,” more transit options plus streets that are friendly to bikers and pedestrians, vibrant downtowns and town centers, and workplaces that meet the needs not only of office-workers, but also young entrepreneurs that work from mobile destinations.
One YES participant creatively described the issues as a combination of “pull factors” attracting young talent to other states while Connecticut’s “push factors” – high housing costs for instance – make young people want to leave.
Connecticut’s difficulty attracting and retaining young professionals has been a recurring theme over the last several years, and more and more stakeholders are expressing concern. Demographers, employers, and state leaders alike all worry that as Connecticut’s workforce ages and higher-income earners retire, the state will not be able to pay for its aging population and economic growth will suffer without a skilled workforce in place.
Not only are young people needed as our future workforce, Young Energetic Solutions (YES) sees the potential of their skills, energy and passion right now to help our communities thrive. YES will be a vehicle for people in their 20s and 30s to more directly impact the public and policy decisions that will create attractive communities for young people and others who live there.
To learn more about YES or to get involved, contact Shelby Mertes of the Partnership for Strong Communities at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-244-0066. More info on YES is on-line: www.pschousing.org/YES and http://www.facebook.com/YoungEnergy.