As we enter the busiest and merriest time of year, our Norfolk Global Shapers Hub is taking a short hiatus. A hibernation. A HUB-ernation, if you will. We aspire to great things as a Global Shapers and we believe that we are doing important work in Hampton Roads; however, people are the building blocks of our regional community and this is the time of year that should be spent in celebration and relaxation with the family and friends that support us and our efforts. Do not despair - we will return in full force on January 9, 2017!
With our final post before a temporary social media silence, we want to leave you with a recap of our last week and some final thoughts and questions to carry you into the new year.
Last week, our very own Aazia Mickens-Dessaso, the founder of Pitchblack, an initiative to build technology solutions for organizations that serve diverse communities, was a panelist for "Millennial Muscle: Making Their Mark on Business in Hampton Roads," a breakfast panel assembled as a part of the Cox Business Executive Discussion Series.
Aaz joined three other millennials in business: Hamilton Perkins, the founder and president of Hamilton Perkins Collection, a certified B Corporation that offers designer travel bags at an affordable price, Chelsea Mandello, the founder and CEO of Troopster, a website that provides care packages to military members on deployment, and Brad Hunter, a vice president in commercial lending at TowneBank.
The panelists superbly articulated the collective millennial voice. Here are a few of our favorite quotes:
"We aren't going to be a New York or an Atlanta, but we can leverage the strong industrial products available in Hampton Roads to build a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that is particular to our region."
- Aazia Mickens-Dessaso
"It is not uncommon to live in one city, work in another, and go to church or visit friends in yet another. Regional transportation supports this, as well as business productivity. I support public transportation and believe it attracts millennials."
- Brad Garrett
"We are such a naturally information now generation. I don't have my phone on me at work - I'm not allowed - and I think that actually decreases my productivity. With my phone, I can find the answer to my question, plus ten others, in a second. Then I can move on with my day."
- Chelsea Mandello
"At the end of the day, networking is never going to go away. I might know someone in my network that I can introduce to someone else and they might know someone that I should meet. I don't think social media has replaced traditional networking, it has just changed how networking takes place."
- Hamilton Perkins
As millennials have become "the largest share of the American workforce," we can guarantee that formal and informal conversations about how to attract, engage, and retain millennials in Hampton Roads will increasingly take place, because the future of the regional economy depends on it. Less than two weeks ago, Larry Filer, an economist at Old Dominion University, touched on this topic at the Virginia Economic Summit. He stated that we need to "get away from the idea that a Wegmans and a craft brewery” will bring millennials to Virginia. Last week, the 'Millennial Muscle' panelists had an opportunity to address these comments within the overarching discussion of millennials and economic development in Hampton Roads. These quotes probably summarize the conversation best:
"There is a 'there-there' - an energy and excitement - in so many successful communities that encourages entrepreneurship and millennial retention. There are things to grow a community around."
- Aazia Mickens-Dessaso
"Guess what - if Amazon popped up in Hampton Roads, you're not going to have to worry about whether there is a craft brewery. It's naturally going to be there."
- Brad Garrett
So, what do you think? Do communities attract millennials with amenities, so that millennials will bring jobs, or do they attract millennials with jobs, so that millennials will bring amenities? What do you think that Hampton Roads should be doing to stay ahead of the curve?