Colorado Springs: The Nation's Fastest-Growing City for Millennials
Career opportunities, affordability and lifestyle are just a few of the draws
With a surge of new residents, development and career opportunities, Colorado Springs, currently the state’s second-largest city, is forecasted to surpass Denver for the top spot by 2050.
Will millennials lead the charge?
Chances are, yes. Millennials are flocking to Colorado Springs at a higher rate than any other U.S. city, according to a report released by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
Colorado Springs saw a 14.7 percent millennial growth rate from 2010 to 2015, leading all other cities in the nation, including Denver, Austin, Houston and Seattle. Colorado Springs also ranks sixth in the country for highest share of millennials overall, at 26.4 percent. The statistics are presented in Brookings’ report, “The Millennial Generation: A Demographic Bridge to America’s Diverse Future.” In this report, millennials are defined as people born between 1981 and 1997 — a group that makes up a quarter of the country’s population, and 30 percent of the voting age population.
“It is easy to understand why so many young professionals are coming here,” says Asha Kurian, a quality analyst for Tek Experts, an international business and information technology support services company with its North American headquarters in Colorado Springs. “The culture here is empowering and full of room for professional growth. The city also offers a unique small-town feel that is complemented with big-city offerings.”
Kurian, 28, and her husband moved to the U.S. from south India four years ago. They landed in Minnesota because of her husband’s career, but soon found themselves looking at a move to California or Colorado.
“Compared to California, Colorado Springs has a low cost of living, little or no traffic, is a safer community, and doesn’t have the same congestion compared to San Francisco, Oakland or San Jose,” says Kurian, who accepted her first job in the U.S. at Tek Experts after her move and still operates two of her own private businesses.
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS TAKE THE LEAD
Opportunity and accessibility are two positive attributes commonly cited by young professionals in Colorado Springs, where the average age of residents is 34 (the national average is 38).
Jacob Eichengreen, 27, was raised in Colorado Springs and graduated from college in Connecticut. Originally set on building a career elsewhere, Eichengreen changed his mind after a visit home.
“I made the decision to come back because I can accomplish far more here in five years than I could in a major destination city like Boston or Chicago,” he says. “Here I not only have access to mentorship from business and community leaders but get to work alongside them. I could only dream about that kind of experience in a larger city.”
To his point, Eichengreen is the executive director of the Quad Innovation Partnership, a joint initiative between Colorado College, Pikes Peak Community College, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and the U.S. Air Force Academy that supports graduating student innovators building careers in the Colorado Springs area.
“Colorado Springs understands the value of new talent and devotes real resources to supporting young professionals,” says Eichengreen, who is also the founder and CEO of a social enterprise in Uganda. “Leaders throughout the city are actively looking for capable, creative young people to lead us to the next level.”
A BOOMING CULTURAL SCENE
Leadership and career opportunities, an affordable cost of living (15.6 percent below the Denver average), and easy access to outdoor recreation are all draws for professionals across generations, but Colorado Springs’ growing scene adds a new layer, especially in the city’s reinvented downtown.
Spurred by growth in urban living, hospitality, retail and dining, downtown Colorado Springs has $620 million in development completed, planned or underway. At the forefront of much of this development are the city’s young professionals.
In recent years, downtown Colorado Springs has seen a surge in everything from multiple co-working spaces like Epicentral and Welcome Fellow, to cultural hotspots like the Brooklyn’s on Boulder Street speakeasy or Story Coffee Company, a tiny house coffee shop recently recognized as the most beautiful coffee shop in Colorado by Architectural Digest.
PC: STELLAR PROPELLOR STUDIO
“Whether they’re opening a new distillery, marketing firm, or software start-up venture, I think millennials are drawn by the supportive and collaborative business environment here. Time and again, we see these businesses creating partnerships, collaborations, and new ventures together,” says Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs.
It’s an environment that has Eichengreen optimistic about the city’s future.
“Colorado Springs has a tremendous amount of opportunity for young people,” Eichengreen says. “We’re in that perfect spot of being big enough to have compelling opportunities but sized right for those opportunities to actually be accessible.”
Tammy Fields is the chief economic development officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.