It may come as a surprise to some that not all millennials are dropping everything and moving to big cities. There is a secular trend among millennials and other age groups toward settling in university towns like Oxford – especially when those towns are in the South.
Joel Kotkin, an internationally recognized author and urban development expert will speak at Ole Miss next Friday, May 6 on on the global, economic, political and social trends in cities. He will elaborate on how Oxford can handle its popularity in a smart and strategic way. The event will be free at the Pavilion and is open to the public. Kotkin fascinates audiences all over the world with his talks, and it is an accomplishment to get him to come Oxford for this event.
“Unlike what you read about millennials in the New York Times and elsewhere, not all of them are tech geeks in L.A. or hipsters in Brooklyn. I call them the ‘missing millennials,” said Kotkin. “A vast majority are living in suburbs and small towns. No one talks about it – it’s as if they don’t exist.”
According to Kotkin, the general migration to the south shows no sign of slowing. These towns have experienced accelerated growth, and Oxford is now one of the top ten towns to live in our country based on population growth.
The next challenge for towns like Oxford is to deal with its rapid growth in a thorough and resourceful manner.
Said Kotkin, “People are actively seeking these environments. This opens up great opportunities [for development]. The business community and the city must find that balance between accommodating growth and protecting the assets that made the city so attractive in the first place.”
Blake Tart, III, a real estate developer in Houston and Oxford, and owner of PureRyde, originally met Kotkin in Houston through business. The Ole Miss Real Estate School Alumni Board of which Tartt is the president, organized this unprecedented event as the first joint event ever sponsored by the Business School, Ole Miss Athletics and the Meek School of Journalism & New Media.
“Overall we (the Ole Miss Real Estate Alumni Board) are trying to bring jobs and businesses to the state, and we believe that bringing in thought leaders like Kotkin is a great way to start,” Tartt said.
The event is being made possible due to the generous support of sponsors like Evans Petree, a full-service law firm in Memphis.
Russell Hensley, an attorney with Evans Petree, said their firm is excited to be a part of making this high caliber event possible.
“To have someone of Joel Kotkin’s caliber come and talk to Ole Miss students, alumni, faculty and administrators and citizens of Oxford is tremendous,” Hensley said. “Evans Petree believes that both Ole Miss and Oxford will see significant growth over the years because of the assets they have to offer. Joel Kotkin helps provide the vision for cities like Oxford to sustain such significant growth but not lose the charm that attracts such growth.”
Another hot topic Kotkin will discuss is the general cost of living especially for young people just getting out of school and young families.
“It is something of a generational issue if you look at what has happened with wealth in this country,” said Kotkin, “The [baby] boomers have a vast majority of the wealth in the U.S. It’s just tougher now for the younger generation.”
According to Forbes.com, millennials have a much higher rate of debt, and more young adults are living at home than ever before. But according to Kotkin, those factors are all the more reason that places like Oxford should brace for more growth as long as the cost of living doesn’t get out of hand.
“You no longer have to move to these big cities to find opportunities,” Kotkin said, “The real question is, can Oxford continue to be a place that has good employment opportunities to attract upwardly mobile, middle class singles, couples or families to live. The quality of life attraction is already there with access to good schools, culture, shopping and events in an attractive, historic university town. The challenge will be to handle that growth without destroying the assets that got you to where you are.”
Kotkin will talk more about specific advice for Oxford next Friday.
NOTE: Ole Miss students, faculty, staff and the general public of Oxford are welcome to attend the free event. It will be held at the Pavilion at Ole Miss on May 6th at 11:30 A.M. Chancellor Vitter will be addressing the audience for opening remarks.
Samantha Mitchell is a staff writer for Hottytoddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org