Barry McNamara  |   Published April 26, 2016

‘Extremely valuable’ project

Monmouth capstone class helps Galesburg learn how to attract Millennials
  • (Left to Right) Julianna Graf of Mascoutah, Ill., Josh Sutherland of Elmhurst, Ill., and Galesburg resident Forrest Inness present to the City of Galesburg and the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development (KCAPED).
Monmouth College seniors recently helped nearby Galesburg and Knox County learn how to attract more college-educated Millennials to their Midwest town.

The students, who were in Robin Johnson’s senior-level capstone citizenship class, “Politics and Government in the Midwest,” partnered with the City of Galesburg and the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development (KCAPED) to examine how other similarly-sized cities in the Midwest have attracted more college-educated workers from the Millennial generation (people born between 1982 and the early 2000s).

This was the second time this academic year that Johnson’s class worked with Galesburg and KCAPED.

“More than ever, companies today are concerned about the ability to find talent,” said KCAPED president Ken Springer. “Communities from coast to coast have taken notice and are now paying closer attention to attracting and retaining talented workers – particularly the coveted Millennial demographic. Our question was simple: How are communities finding success with attracting and retaining Millennials?”

Three seniors from the class presented the findings – titled “If You Build It, They Will Come: Methods and Insights into the Attraction and Retention of Young People to Galesburg, Illinois” – earlier this month to KCAPED members. The students who made the presentation were Galesburg resident Forrest Inness, Julianna Graf of Mascoutah, Ill., and Josh Sutherland of Elmhurst, Ill.

The Monmouth students’ research discovered that cities that experienced the most success attracting Millennials were ones that offered amenities such as entertainment and nightlife, along with career opportunities and student loan reimbursement or assistance programs.

“These programs have the highest potential for success and have been used in communities just like Galesburg in order to revitalize the area, and they are working,” according to the report.

Springer said the Monmouth students’ research “will be extremely valuable.”

“The survey responses from Monmouth College students will be extremely valuable as we move forward,” he said. “It really helps to fill in the blanks regarding which types of amenities skilled young people are seeking. We hope to expand the reach of the class’s survey by bringing it to regional community colleges and possibly even to the high school level.”

“The work you have these students do is a real help,” Galesburg Mayor John Pritchard told Johnson.

Monmouth students said the project also helped them by providing insight into what communities have to offer and what they personally seek in a potential community.
  • “This Integrated Studies class is very practical,” said Anthony Howe of Somerset, Wis. “We produced something that will influence important decision-making in Galesburg, something that we hope will help bring life back to the area.”
  • “By participating in this study, I gained skills and knowledge in survey-processing, teamwork and leadership,” said Kate Duffy of Waynesville, Ill.
“I gained a broader view on programs that Midwest cities have to offer young professionals, and I was able to evaluate myself in considering where to reside in the future,” said Priscilla Tun of Chicago. “Although I am from Chicago, I prefer rural areas and small towns like Monmouth or Galesburg because I feel like I could breathe better here, and I could actually start a conversation with strangers, count the stars at night and listen to the quietness. I don’t have to wait months just to see a doctor. I think it’s more convenient living here than in a big city.”
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