Young Americans like to move around. Millennials, especially, are more mobile than any other generation, and the decisions they make about where to live and work continue to shape every major metropolitan area in the United States.
Lately, the Millennial movement has been an inward one. While coastal metropolises such as New York City and Los Angeles continue to grow in terms of overall population, younger generations of Americans are migrating to the Midwest.
As more Millennials -- who are now the largest generation -- get married and begin to have kids, their values are shifting, and they're looking to settle down. The culture and growing economic opportunity that many Midwestern cities provide make them appealing to young people looking for places to raise their families.
Steve Johnson, CEO of Missouri Partnership, an economic development group focused on attracting businesses to Missouri, is optimistic that a continued surge in deal activity in the Midwest -- particularly in the agricultural technology sector -- will not only bring more agtech companies to Missouri, but will also draw more business in general.
The future of farming looks bright. Businesses large and small are investing in agtech solutions to tackle the challenge of feeding a crowded planet, and advancements in everything from drone technology to biofuels are making the space increasingly exciting to work in.
"The Midwest has become a magnet for agricultural organizations around the world searching for a place rich with talent, innovation, and potential revenue," Johnson says. His optimism is well-founded -- and that growth will occur throughout the region.
Making a Smart Move
This growth in the agtech sector has revitalized economic prospects in the Midwest. The allure of cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis continues to draw people from all over the world to the region.
The latter is experiencing a level of growth not seen since the 1920s. But the cultural and architectural rebirth of two other important anchor cities -- St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri -- has also contributed to the region's revitalized economic prospects.
These cities and the rest of the Midwest are at the epicenter of the booming agtech industry, which has attracted nearly $8 billion in venture capital over the past two years.
On a cultural note, many Millennials prefer experiences over monetary goods. If businesses in the Midwest are able to attract top young talent, it's quite likely the charm and lifestyle opportunities many Midwestern communities provide will help keep that talent from roaming after a year or two.
Here are five reasons why businesses should consider a move to the Midwest:
1. Millennials are the largest workforce and possess big buying power. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that by 2030, Millennials would make up 75% of the workforce. Further, Millennials will reportedly spend nearly $200 billion in 2017 and $10 trillion throughout their lifetimes.
Businesses are constantly assessing how to market to and recruit this demographic. Basing your company in the Midwest allows you to reach out to this potential employee base where it already is.
2. A relatively low cost of living and an uptick in new jobs make starting or pursuing a career more feasible. The cost of living in the Midwest isn't sky-high like it is on the coasts, so a competitive salary in the Midwest can go a long way. That's a big benefit for local businesses that can offer a huge business advantage over companies located in more expensive areas when it comes to fighting for the country's top talent.
Moreover, lower real estate and office space costs help keep companies' spending under control.
3. The climate is right for building a business. A steady flow of business-friendly legislation has made it extremely affordable to operate within the region. Plus, a host of startup accelerators and incubators, along with organizations like Missouri Partnership, give new entrepreneurs ample resources to launch businesses in the area.
To top it all off, the Midwest is poised to have more startups than Silicon Valley in just a few years.
4. The location makes logistics easier. A strong, globally connected logistics and transportation infrastructure makes the Midwest a hub for international business travelers. The area boasts access to several major airports, ports via the Mississippi River, a network of interstate highways, and all Class I railroads.
That's a big draw for potential hires, and it means businesses have an easy time transporting products.
5. The existing talent doesn't just include farmers. The Midwest is home to many leading universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oberlin College in Ohio.
The area also boasts companies in the auto, aviation, and advanced manufacturing industries that continue to attract top college graduates from all over the world.
In general, the youngest members of the American workforce are well-known for their tendency to hop from one job to the next in pursuit of financial stability, positive work environments, and careers they're passionate about.
But many Millennials are beginning to search for places to plant roots, and it's likely a growing number will make their home in the Midwest. For companies located in the region or those planning to make a move there, that could mean big opportunities are ahead.