Analysis | Grand County is a place where Millennials want to live | SkyHiNews.com

Analysis | Grand County is a place where Millennials want to live

By Patrick Brower Grand Enterprise Initiative
Patrick Brower

It may seem counter-intuitive to all of us who already live here, but Grand County is a place where people want to live.

That’s a key concept as we sit here and evaluate what’s happening with our local economy, where unemployment is at record lows, housing costs and availability are at record highs and our tourism sector is likely to continue growing at 10-20 percent a year.

Which all plays directly into my work as the enterprise facilitator with the Grand Enterprise Initiative. We work directly with people who are already here in the county and who want to stay here by fulfilling their entrepreneurial dreams. We also work with people planning to move here and do the same.

The key concept is that they want to live and work here, preferably with their own business or enterprise.

This trend, of course, mirrors what numerous studies say about what brings the greatest job growth and greatest overall economic growth with the least cost. In smaller communities like Grand County it’s not the call centers imported from Des Moines, Iowa or the small manufacturer from Detroit that drive our growth. It’s the local business ventures owned and operated by locals and wanna-be locals.

Which is a round-about way of saying our opportunity for stable and sustained economic growth is right in front of us and not living and operating on the West Coast, East Coast or the Midwest. Our opportunities are here and now with the people who live here now and who want to live here in the future.

A recent article in the Denver Post hinted at this in pointing out a trend with  Millennials (ages 22 to 37). They are taking advantage of the strong national economy by letting their relocation decisions be driven by factors other than simple job availability. Many Millennials are moving where they want to live and they are worrying later about gainful employment. This plays out particularly well here in Grand County where many people are moving. They are getting jobs if they can find a place to live. And then they indulge their dreams and look for ways to make a living doing what they really love to do, usually in an entrepreneurial venture.

And many times they are using the income from their first job to help pay start-up and operating expense for their new business venture or to nurture the business they might have brought here with them.

The truth of this trend doesn’t change the dynamics of living in such an economy. Yes, we have a housing crisis, especially for the Millennials. As if sharing the pain is good news we can take some comfort in knowing that for much of Colorado there’s also a housing crisis, for many of the same reasons. I think the bigger difference in a smaller economy like Grand County’s is that many of the newcomers to Grand County start out with a strong entrepreneurial bent. In the cities, they tend to be merely holding down jobs.

The flip side of the coin, of course, is that these very entrepreneurs who may soon open a business will also face the employee shortage faced by many businesses in the county. It’s ironic, in fact, that the newcomer entrepreneurs who have come here with high hopes face obstacles similar to the longstanding business people in the county. At first, they can fill the job openings we currently have, and then they create new job openings.

Nonetheless, we can count our blessings that the Millennial generation has been labeled the true “entrepreneurial generation” by Forbes Magazine. The entrepreneurial inclination of these county newcomers is what will drive our county’s stable growth in the future.

And best of all it will be by people who live here now and who want to live here in the future. These are the people who will make Grand County their home, now and in the future.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.


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