There are over 202,000 adults under the age of 40 in Memphis, TN. I’ve personally interacted with approximately 2,000 of them – over, and over and over again.
That was the staggering statistic and moment of reflection that took place during the early days and weeks of developing Millennials For Memphis. The organization – an economic and community engagement platform for millennials who live, work, or play in Memphis – seeks to find and involve young adults in the decision-making processes that move Memphis forward.
Let’s keep it simple. Over one-third of adults in Memphis are under 40. Yet, we make up an underwhelming percentage of appointed or elected leadership positions, neighborhood planning coalitions, or even entertainment planning committees. This issue isn’t worrisome because millennials want to be involved. This isn’t merely about inclusion. This is an economic problem.
How do we convince millennials in Memphis to make a long-term investment in the city if we are unable (or unwilling) to demonstrate a most basic understanding of young adult expectations as they (we) advance in their careers and start families? How do we gain an understanding of those perspectives when the average age of adults at the proverbial table is well over 50? And how does Memphis continue to thrive as the Baby Boomer generation retires to a life where Gen-X and Gen-Y are expected to maintain a city that doesn’t reflect them.
We don’t, we can’t, and we won’t.