MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Millennials could help to shape the future of Myrtle Beach. City officials plan to speak to the younger generation to gauge interest in certain topics.
On Tuesday afternoon, a select group of students from HGTC and CCU will meet with Myrtle Beach City officials. According to City Manager John Pedersen, those students will discuss the type of community students want to live in after graduation.
The conversation will also look into what they will be looking for in a vacation destination and in a potential employer.
WMBF News Reporter Stephanie Robusto conducted her own small focus group on the campus of CCU. All of the students agreed that the beach and warmer weather first attracted them to the Grand Strand.
However, it will take a lot more to keep them here.
"The availability of jobs and opportunities matter," said CCU student Reghan Timmons. She added, "I'm looking for more than just a hospitality job."
According to the City's Comprehensive plan, 35 percent of the jobs within city limits are accommodation and food service related. 13 percent are retail, and 8 percent are construction-related.
"Right now, I'm a marine science major working for marine protection. If I could find a job like that here, that's what would make me stay here," said CCU student Brooke Lee. He also mentioned he would like to experience a different part of the county post-graduation.
For many students, it depends on their major and interests to determine if a job would be available for them.
"There's not really a lot of writing opportunities here and also I'll be going into publishing so a lot of publishing companies are in NYC," shared CCU student Kimberly Holcombe.
It is a hurdle the Myrtle Beach Planning Department has already identified.
"When they graduate they don't necessarily stay in the community. They go somewhere else where there is a higher paying job," said Diane Moskow-McKenzie with the Planning Dept. She explained that results in the city losing a lot of talent.
She sorts through the City's Comprehensive Plan which guides the City on a 20 year plan. It noted that there is a slow process to turn the local economy into year-long jobs that are more industrially diverse.
Many times during past city council workshops, Pedersen has noted the need to engage Millennials in the conversation regarding the direction of Myrtle Beach.
College students said they are ready to talk.
"Being in a digital age, definitely social media is going to bring people here," said Kimberly Holcombe.
With Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram giving students instant access to information, the students admitted they would look into connecting with the city.
"I just tagged them in an Instagram post," joked CCU student Tyja McNeil.
His friend, Reghan Timmons said, "if they followed me first, I may follow them."
Other students said city officials just need to simplify it.
"Don't try to figure out how to communicate with us because we have different mind sets, we think like everyone else," said Brooke Lee. He added, "just don't talk down to us, treat us like adults."
The group of students will meet with city officials on Tuesday following the City Council meeting at the Law Enforcement Center in Myrtle Beach.