Apr 23, 2024 - News

Gen Z loves Indianapolis' nightlife, outdoor spaces and more

Indy experts speaking

Local leaders discuss what makes our city special at IUPUI. Photo: Courtesy of Justin Casterline/Indiana University

Jobs, active spaces and cultural attractions are helping Indianapolis make a positive impression on young people considering a future in the Midwest.

Why it matters: Gen Zers — those born between 1997 and 2012 — are an increasingly important demographic with the power to reshape consumer and employee trends.

Driving the news: Tapping into what makes Indy desirable to 20-somethings was the focus of new research presented last week by IUPUI's Sports Innovation Institute.

  • More than 600 people between the ages of 20 and 29 were surveyed to help local leaders understand how Indy compares to other Midwestern cities.
  • Researchers got responses from 281 residents and 285 non-residents representing 42 states.

Zoom in: Respondents were asked to rate 16 factors on their importance in deciding where to live.

  • Indianapolis exceeded expectations in cultural attractions, nightlife, recreational opportunities and outdoor spaces.
  • Indianapolis also scored favorably for gaining awareness about job opportunities among nonresidents.

Yes, but: We need to work on safety, cost of living and "further developing the vibe and vision of the city into the future," the researchers said.

Threat level: Safety, cost of living and vibe of the city are among the most important factors Gen Z respondents say they consider.

  • The bottom five factors were being in an up-and-coming city, festivals and fairs, music scene, sporting events and nightlife.

Zoom out: When compared to other Midwest cities, Indianapolis was third behind Nashville and Chicago in desirability. We ranked higher than Cincinnati, Columbus and St. Louis.

What they're saying: IMS President Doug Boles says Indianapolis has a number of big events that draw attention, but we need to diversify and grow beyond that.

  • "If we're just a racing city or we're just a basketball city, it's going to fail really, really quickly," said Boles, one of four experts who took part in a panel discussion at IUPUI after the data was presented.

The other side: Kristian Little Stricklen, president of Madam Walker Legacy Center, said we shouldn't lose sight of areas that don't require additional attention right now.

  • "Maybe (Gen Zers) feel like we already do it," she said. "Now, it's about keeping it going so that you don't lose it."
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