A city has to have an identity, be marketed just as well as a pair of shoes and make potential new residents want to wear that brand everywhere they go. Your city should inspire people as much as a YETI cooler.
I've never met a person that just owns a YETI. It's a lifestyle. They have to put stickers on their Jeep that tell other people that they really, really enjoy cold and/or hot beverages. If you bring an average beverage holder they look at you like you're from 1917.
A generation ago, the Bay Area, Austin, Seattle, Charlotte, and a few others grew rapidly.
What locations will attract this new generation? Here are four east coast cities making specific moves to attract Millennials:
1. Providence, Rhode Island
Livable, affordable and in close proximity to Boston and New York, Providence was recently called "America's Coolest City" by GQ.
"It's a fresh and tempting alternative to Silicon Valley or Austin," said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. "Not only do we have numerous James Beard restaurants, but we have the academic institutions, the jobs and the culture that make it an ideal package for Millennials looking for a place to live, work and play."
Colleges like Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island School of Design provide plenty of talent and access to research. Virgin Pulse, Johnson and Johnson, and GE Digital have opened operations in Providence.
There are programs for young professionals, too. The Wavemaker Fellowship Program, for example, provides young professionals working in STEM fields with much needed financial assistance to help with their student loan debt, as well as programming that connects them more deeply to the state of Rhode Island.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
Like Austin did with SXSW, Boston is developing their own signature event. In mid-October, Boston's annual innovation festival, HUBweek, will unveil The HUB, its first-ever centralized festival site designed to attract innovators, entrepreneurs, and creatives.
Boston has a lot of advantages as a large city, with large businesses and some of the best research universities in the country. But they are still in search of a signature event to brand a new Millennial identity. The HUB will host talks on climate change and resilience planning and display new renewable technologies.
"The HUB itself will be made up of over 80 shipping containers that will be repurposed and reused after the pop-up festival comes to an end. Like the values of many Millennials, The HUB will encourage social and curious minds to share ideas, experiences, and inspirations in a built environment designed to intrigue," said David Nagahiro, a principal at local architecture firm CBT.
3. Charleston, South Carolina
Millennials are flocking to this coastal and culturally-rich metro. "Charleston's Millennial population grew by 48 percent (2000-2016) making it one of the top Millennial magnets in the nation (outpacing the U.S. at 11 percent growth)," wrote Claire Gibbons, director of global marketing and communications at the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, in an email.
This Southern community is consistently ranked one of the best cities in the world thanks to its beautiful beaches, historic architecture, thriving creative culture, and cluster of James Beard-worthy restaurants.
Charleston's rapidly growing tech scene--250-plus tech companies--is adding jobs that offer the opportunity to do cutting-edge work all while balancing surfing lunches, bringing your dog to work, and more. To match Millennials to the 22,000 new jobs the region expects over the next two years, Charleston launched Charleston Open Source to build national awareness and plug people into local jobs.
4. Orlando, Florida
Known as the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is also quickly becoming a Millennial boomtown thanks to the fastest growing job market in the nation, affordable housing and a vibrant downtown.
Orlando's downtown has transformed to the tune of $5.4 billion in total development investment and has added amenities that millennials prioritize--like a new performing arts center, sports venues, 100-plus restaurants, commuter rail access, free downtown transportation, 25 bike share stations with 3,000 users, 10,705,735 rentable square feet, and more.