Until now, Manatee County’s young professionals have been the target of the Manatee Millennial Movement — and they have become aware of what the community offers, leaders say.
Now the movement’s focus is shifting to help college students discover these opportunities.
As a way to engage the college students, this year’s free MCon2017 Millennial Conference, which is a follow-up to last year’s #4Progress Millennial Conference, will be at State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.
“It’s a way for us to engage, because last year we thought it was successful. But one thing we did notice: There aren’t a lot of college students involved, and those are the ones we are trying to retain,” said Ogden Clark, 33, who works for Manatee County government. “We want them to stay here and let them know there are jobs and economic opportunity.”
The second year of Manatee County’s millennial conference begins Sunday and runs through next Saturday, April 1. The seminar day of the conference will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at SCF Gymnasium, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton.
We want them to stay here and let them know there are jobs and economic opportunity.
Ogden Clark, Manatee Millennial Movement
“Last year we talked about all the things we could do, and I feel like this year we are really trying to say there is stuff here for people,” Clark said. “We are just trying to show if you are a young person and you live here, there are things to do. You can’t just say ‘we don’t like living here. There’s never anything to do.’”
Cyclovia kicks off weeklong event
Millennials want to live in a place where they can walk and bike, and not have to use cars to get around, according to a millennial who works for the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Sunday’s event, Cyclovia Bradenton, which will close 57th Avenue West between 26th Street West and 34th Street West to cars, will promote that, says Colleen McGue.
“We feel that this kind of event really promotes that,” said McGue, 31.
The free event, which is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include bike rodeo, zumba and bike path.
“The idea is we are promoting safer bicycling and walking around the area,” McGue said. “This is the first time we’ve ever done something like this, and it shows support for safe walking and biking in our area.”
Sunday’s event is modeled off an event in Bogota, Colombia, that takes place every Sunday. Simone Peterson, a millennial who works for Manatee County government, received a $5,000 grant for the event from the Knight Foundation’s Emerging City Champions program.
“Motorists need to be especially alert for bicyclists and pedestrians,” McGue said.
Clark said they want to do something in the county’s Southwest District where they have some new sidewalks and other improvements going on in Bayshore Gardens.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to look at this area and talk about mobility, talk about alternative forms of transportation and, with that grant money, we were able to close the street and we are going to have a pedestrian-friendly, cycle-friendly, family-friendly kind of event,” he said.
Cyclovia Bradenton is an event for the whole family, said Robert Barto, 25, who works for Manatee County government.
“We are trying to do something inclusive of everybody to kick off the week on a good foot and get people out in this gorgeous weather that we are having,” he said.
Focus on jobs
With this year’s conference being on a college campus and on a weekday, the focus is jobs, Clark said.
“We are trying to connect people to employers that are here,” he said. “We are trying to expose college students. We are definitely trying to figure out how to get these young college students to realize that they don’t have to (leave) as soon as they graduate.”
The millennial movement stemmed from a discussion that took place a couple years ago about how to get young people to work in government, Clark said.
“We have tons and tons of talent here locally at all these colleges, and yet we see this decrease each year in population of young talented people that grew up here in the area — and they are going elsewhere,” he said. “The county sees this as an opportunity to maybe put a stop or slow down that skid a little bit.”
This year’s event is a culmination of all previous efforts.
“Last year, we were almost kind of looking for things to do,” Clark said. “This year, we are really highlighting the things that there are to do in our community for young people, whether it is living a healthy lifestyle and bicycling and enjoying our beautiful weather here or the nightlife, the vibrancy of having places like down by the baseball field and that kind of atmosphere. For people that were engaged last year, this is what you have to be proud of here in your community already, and the things that are already happening here because of your discussion.”
Barto added: “For people who haven’t come, part of that is having the entire week, there’s more chances. Just another way to reach everyone. Inclusivity would be the word. By spreading it out and having all these different events.”
To register, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mcon-2017-tickets-31071686250?aff=es2.
MCON2017 MILLENNIAL CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, March 26: Cyclovia Bradenton, an event which will include bike rodeo, zumba and bike path. The event will close 57th Avenue West between 26th Street West and 34th Street West to cars.
- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 30: MCon 2017 at State College of Florida Gymnasium, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton.
- 5-7 p.m. Thursday, March 30: Sip and Social sponsored by Manatee Young Professionals at Darwin’s Brewing Co., 803 17th Ave. W., Bradenton.
- 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 31: Realize Bradenton’s Music in the Park at the Riverwalk Amphitheater.
- 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 1: MCon2017 Day of Service at Lincoln Middle School, 305 17th St. E., Palmetto.