Columbus Chamber Unveils What Makes Columbus ‘Cool’ for Young, Talented

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Refresh of 2007 survey shows overall increase in audience’s perceptions of improvement

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The young professional audience makes up a significant portion of the Columbus Region’s workforce and entrepreneurial community, making them a vital component to the Chamber’s mission of helping to retain and expand businesses.

The young and talented choose to make the Columbus Region home because of its amenities, vitality and social engagement, according to results of a Columbus Chamber 2011 survey: “What Makes Columbus ‘Cool’ for the Young and Talented.” Feedback from the more than 1,000 respondents, which showed definite perception shifts from a previous survey, was unveiled at the State of the Young Professional (YP) event.

“The young professional audience makes up a significant portion of the Columbus Region’s workforce and entrepreneurial community, making them a vital component to the Chamber’s mission of helping to retain and expand businesses,” said Michael Dalby, president and CEO, Columbus Chamber. “It’s encouraging to see positive feedback from this key stakeholder group, justifying the commitment we’ve made to attracting and retaining the young and talented. We hope to continue this progress in the coming years.”

The survey follows up the initial late 2006 version, which coincided with the launch of the Chamber’s Attract & Retain Talent initiative. Evaluated beside the results from nearly five years ago, the 2011 survey is meant to measure progress made in the attraction and retention of young professionals, changes in perception of the Columbus Region among those young professionals, and to inform the dialogue around how Columbus can continue to evolve and improve as a home for young and talented people.

Respondents to the survey included Boomerangers, who have moved back to Columbus from another location; Homegrowns, who have lived in Columbus all of their lives; Transplants, who moved to Columbus with no prior experience or tie to the region; and former Columbus residents now living elsewhere. Forty percent of respondents were between the ages of 26 and 30, and 31 percent reported 4 to 7 years of professional work experience.

Full results from the survey can be found at columbus.org/yp2011, with key findings including:

  • The majority of respondents love the features Columbus has to offer, with more than half citing the region’s “amenities” as the reason they stay local. Those singling out “amenities” rose by 13 percentage points since 2007 – representing the most significant increase compared to reasons like family, job and education.
  • Regarding what YPs look for in a community, “social capital” – defined as living in a diverse community where people are engaged and involved – recorded the biggest increase in importance from 2007 to 2011, jumping from 82 percent to 91 percent. The “cost of lifestyle,” which topped the list at 97 percent in 2007, remained the top answer at 98 percent.
  • Respondents felt most strongly that the Columbus Region’s “vitality” – meaning Columbus is a vibrant, “out and about” community where people take advantage of parks, recreation and other healthy living options – had increased, rising 21 percentage points over 2007 responses.
  • “Earning,” which called out the region’s broad workforce options and opportunities for entrepreneurs, jumped 12 percentage points from the previous survey – despite the lack of improvement in income levels and economic factors like the recession.
  • Among Boomerangers, more than half cited family and job opportunities as the reason they moved back to the Columbus Region. The responses for Transplants were similar, with more than half citing job or educational opportunities as the biggest draws.
  • When asked what one wish they had to make Columbus a magnet for young, talented people, 37 percent of those responding chose alternative transportation, such as improved public transportation and the addition of passenger rail services, up from 23 percent in 2007.

The 2011 State of the Young Professional was presented by Embassy Suites Columbus - Airport, in partnership with Battelle, State Farm and Columbus Underground and with support from Shutterbooth, CYP CLUB, Columbus Rotaract and Young Professionals of Columbus.

About the Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber helps businesses thrive. It leads business growth, retention and expansion initiatives in the Columbus Region, enhances the business environment and delivers programs and services that enable its members to be more successful. To learn more about the Columbus Chamber, visit http://www.columbus.org.

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Michelle Bretscher
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