The Millennials Work Group found that they want more opportunities to socialize, including activities
like social sports leagues, meetups, budget-friendly options, and — a popular request — events with food trucks.
By Tripp Laino
The Millennials Work Group has wrapped up a yearlong effort looking into how Columbia Association and others can better serve their age group.
And their work isn’t done. CA’s new Millennial Advisory Committee will pick up from where the work group left off.
“The work this group has done and continues to do has given us some fresh insight and ideas about programs, services and other existing community features that not only Columbia Association — but Columbia as a whole — can benefit from,” said CA President/CEO Milton W. Matthews.
The Millennials Work Group convened in February 2018. CA tasked the group with identifying opportunities to engage with community members between the ages of 17-35. That age group makes up a sizable portion of the community; nearly 22% of Columbia’s residents are between the ages of 18 and 34. CA is seeking to engage them more in the community, including with many of CA’s programs and services.
Over the last year, the group explored issues relevant to Columbia’s Millennial population. This effort included seeking community feedback through small group meetings and a survey of more than 800 people. They used that information to highlight ways to attract millennials to stay in Columbia and engage in civic life, and to assess how CA can engage and serve them better.
“As the work group explored various topics of interest, general themes for needs and opportunities began to emerge,” said Jessica Bellah, CA’s community planner.
The group presented its findings and recommendations to CA’s Board of Directors in January. The board has since voted to create the advisory committee.That was among the top recommendations to come from the Millennials Work Group’s report.
The work group learned that many millennials feel as if they are missing out on programs and events because they don’t know what is happening — they are often unaware of what CA and others offer.
“We identified practical recommendations that can either be directly implemented by Columbia Association or that CA can advocate for other organizations to implement,” said Jason Jannati, the work group’s chairman.
Millennials by and large said they want more opportunities to socialize. They want convenient places to walk to and good reasons to go. Those could include more nightlife options and other destinations, events that are targeted specifically for millennials or for adults only, social sports leagues, meetups, budget-friendly options, and — a popular request — events with food trucks.
Many survey participants said they hoped for more unique and non-chain restaurants and businesses, something they currently feel can only be found in more urban areas like Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
The recommendations from this report, and the continued input from the Millennial Advisory Committee, will now serve as an important reference when Columbia Association considers its programming.
For example, a similar effort several years ago for adults age 55 and older produced the Comprehensive Plan for Serving Older Adults. One of the recommendations from that report called for more daytime activities. CA launched its Exploring Columbia on Foot series of outdoor natural walks, which have become popular with both older adults and people of all ages.
CA has more than a dozen already established committees that advise CA on specific topics, including fitness, aquatics, the watershed, and international and multicultural programming.
To learn more about what these committees are working on, or to find out about serving on a committee, visit ColumbiaAssociation.org/committees.