By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published Jan. 14, 2013
Charleston ranks third in metrics young professionals are looking for when considering cities to live in, according to research conducted by Next Generation Consulting.
But members of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce heard ways they can improve the desirability of the city and attract educated young professionals at its annual meeting last week.
Research looked at seven topics that influence the desirability of a location to young workers. Those included cost of living, earning potential, healthy living, education, transportation, social capital and nightlife.
When compared to Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Savannah, Ga., Charleston fell behind Austin and Raleigh.
Rebecca Ryan, founder of Next Generation Consulting, told chamber members that focusing on tweaking the city’s strengths before addressing its shortcomings is an effective way to retain the workers that are here and attract more.
Charleston scored very high in the “after hours” category; the nightlife in the city is vibrant, Ryan said.
She suggested encouraging app developers to design an app that would allow people to find out where anything going on in the city was. For example, if someone wanted to listen to live music, an app could show them who was playing where and if there was a cover charge to get in, she said.
Ryan also stressed the importance of broad transportation plans. She praised the approval of Interstate 526 and the discussions of alternative transportation modes recently conducted. She said the traditional interest with cars has been replaced with gadgets, and that the next generation desires to be connected while on their commute.
“The love affair is with the gadget,” she said. “The gadget that enables their social life.”
Ryan urged members to think of short- and long-term opportunities to change and grow the region. She said she thinks Charleston is positioned perfectly to grow while other cities continue to slumber.
“While we work on multigenerational plans around hard infrastructure, you tomorrow can begin thinking about how to change soft infrastructure,” she said.
Populations endure seasons, and Ryan said she feels the nation is in a period of winter where there isn’t much activity.
“Charleston is one of the few places in this country I feel is still becoming. You’re best days are ahead of you,” she said. “Charleston is having an early spring, and the reason this is important is because coming out of winter, the economic pecking order is reset.”
The last “spring” era in this country, according to Ryan, was following World War II when the baby boomer generation was born.
Reach Lauren Ratcliffe at 843-849-3119.