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New York Times: Cities Compete for Coolness In Order To Attract Young Professionals Shaila Dewan wrote an interesting piece in today's New York Times about the pressing desire for American cities to attract young people in order to ensure sustained growth. Why? From the article:

These measures reflect a hard demographic reality: Baby boomers are retiring and the number of young adults is declining. By 2012, the work force will be losing more than two workers for every one it gains....

Cities have long competed over job growth, struggling to revive their downtowns and improve their image. But the latest population trends have forced them to fight for college-educated 25- to 34-year-olds, a demographic group increasingly viewed as the key to an economic future.

Mobile but not flighty, fresh but technologically savvy, “the young and restless,” as demographers call them, are at their most desirable age, particularly because their chances of relocating drop precipitously when they turn 35. Cities that do not attract them now will be hurting in a decade.

So how do cities attract young people?

Well, look to the examples of Portland, Austin, and Atlanta. They retain young people by appealing to the "cool factor."
Still, what works in one city will not work in others, Mr. Cortright said, and not all young people are looking for the same things. He cites Portland’s bike paths, which many point to as an amenity that has helped the city attract young people.

“I think that confuses a result with a cause,” Mr. Cortright said. Portland happened to have a group who wanted concessions for cyclists and was able to get them, he said.

“The real issue was, is your city open to a set of ideas from young people, and their wish to realize their dream or objective in your city,” he said. “You could go out and build bike paths, but if that’s not what your young people want, it’s not going to work.”