Colorado Springs needs to improve approach to keep young professionals

April 04, 2017

Hannah Harvey

hharvey@uccs.edu

     When I think about Colorado Springs, I think of the mountains in my backyard and warm visits to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in the summer as a kid.

     But I don’t consider this city as a sustainable place to pursue my career.

     Among other colleges in Colorado Springs, I know I’m not the only college-aged adult that feels this way, and recent efforts to encourage young people to stay in Colorado Springs are falling short.

     Colorado Springs is the 40th largest city in the nation with 456,568 calling it home, according to a May 2016 Gazette article.

     The millennial population, people 20- 34 years old, made up 22 percent of Colorado Springs’s population in 2015, according to a February Gazette article.

     This year, the city implemented PlanCOS, a campaign that sought to update the city’s comprehensive plan through the feedback of Colorado Springs residents.

     UCCS tried to integrate the campaign to show students how to provide their input with what the city should do to update the plan through the Futuristic Cities event on Feb. 16.

     But the three-question survey that was open to residents last fall as part of the PlanCOS campaign was too broad.

     Questions like, “What do you love about Colorado Springs?” and, “What do you think needs improvement?” are too general to answer what young people in the city are really looking for.

     And at that, young people still aren’t as involved as they should be; the youngest member on the steering committee for PlanCOS is 39 years old.

     While UCCS is a nontraditional school that students from a wide variety of ages and experiences come from, only someone between the ages of 18-22 will be able to understand a typical college-aged student’s experience here.

     What’s missing from the city, for young people at least, is a vibrant arts culture, and jobs in a more creative sector aside from business, entrepreneurship and other entities that support our arts culture.

     If Colorado Springs wants to build a sustainable environment for young people to stay and thrive, then the city must offer more opportunities for careers, a downtown expansion and more urban-like lifestyles to help keep us here.

     It seems that the city isn’t actually considering how young people feel about this.

     Colorado Springs needs more diverse jobs that don’t only focus on military and security measures; not everyone will go on to work at places like the Air Force Academy and the National Cybersecurity Center.

     Entrepreneurs are getting their foot in the door here, along with those who want to pursue careers in cybersecurity and defense contracting.

     But an arts culture should be more intertwined within the city, and students should be taking the opportunity to make that happen; when they do so, the city will pay attention to providing more diverse opportunities.

     At a GOCA Chit Chat event in November, I noticed that my friend, a GOCA intern and I were the only students there. Even at other art exhibits, galleries and museums like the Fine Arts Center, I notice a lack of young people paying attention.

     While it seems that we get the word out about business and militaryoriented events, we need to do a better job marketing and advertising for culture and arts-related organizations, and increase the opportunities for young adults to make this happen.