Mayor Jean Stothert held a roundtable discussion in December with a dozen millennials to discuss ways the city can expand on its aggressive efforts to make Omaha a great place for them to live, work and play.
“The future of our city will be in the hands of millennials in not too many years. I want to continue, and expand, our focus on making Omaha a place they want to be. We’ve been leading the way in attracting millennials for several years now but I believe you can always improve and do more in any endeavor,” Stothert said.
The roundtable was held at The Mastercraft Building on North 13th Street, an outstanding venue filled with incubators, technology firms and young people working in collaborative settings.
Stothert told attendees that a recent report named Omaha as the sixth best city for millennials among the 50 largest metropolitan areas. She said this was not happenstance—it is the result of policies that make Omaha a good place for businesses to locate or expand, as well as her commitment to encouraging robust housing development so that it is affordable for younger people.
“You can look all over Omaha and see that the city is on the move,” Stothert said. “This means job opportunities for our young people, cost-effective housing and expanded cultural and community events they can link into.”
Stothert also discussed the city’s effort to use technology to improve services, enhance transparency and encourage citizen engagement. Her efforts were recognized recently by The Center for Digital Government which named Omaha a “Top 10 City” in this regard. The group’s judges wrote: “Through websites, funding and apps, the city is working to make interactions with residents as easy and pleasant as possible. Omaha has committed to serving its population and how the public accesses municipal services.”
Millennials are showing a heightened interest in community service and volunteer activities to improve their community, something important to Stothert’s administration. In this regard, she told them of her proposal to create a new Neighborhood Planning Division in the city’s planning department to wrap around employment services, housing and social services to appropriate projects.
In a related action, Stothert said that Omaha was recently selected to be one of 20 “TechHire Communities” nationally, an effort that helps underrepresented job seekers to start careers in the technology sector. Tess Posner, managing director of TechHire said: “Omaha has demonstrated a true commitment to making opportunities in tech more inclusive in your community, and we . . . look forward to working with you to help implement, grow, and amplify your efforts.”
Finally, the mayor discussed transportation and infrastructure policies in relation to a desire by many millennials to not own cars. “That’s one reason we will spend $320 million over the next six years to improve our transportation system, including Metro’s bus rapid transit system, increased bike sharing programs and expansions to the trail system,” Stothert said.
Luke Hoffman, Talent Manager for the Greater Omaha Chamber, was one of the millennial participants. “Greater Omaha is a progressive region with an engaged population of millennials who are drawn to and stay here because of our incredible quality of life and the opportunities they have to advance their careers, develop personally and drive positive change in our community. The upcoming YP Summit on March 9, 2017, is one exceptional example of that,” he said.
Omaha and Millennials
Per 2010 census…
- The median age in the city was 33.5 years.
- 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18;
- 11.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24;
- 27.9% were from 25 to 44;
- ⇒ approx 38% Millennials
- 24.4% were from 45 to 64; and
- 11.4% were 65 years of age or older.
- ⇒ approx 35% Boomers and GenXers
- The gender makeup of the city was 49.2% male and 50.8% female.