Courageous Conversations: Retiring baby boomers’ impact on cities

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –  As baby boomers are retiring, they’re leaving jobs behind that millennials can’t fill.  

KOLR10 spoke to the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce on what the city is doing to combat this.  

“One of the key things that businesses that are looking to relocate to the area look for, is a growing workforce and plenty of people to fill the jobs that they have available,” Robin Robeson, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Chair-Elect, said.  

Robin Robeson and Ryan Mooney, also with the Chamber, say cities are deeply affected by baby boomers retiring and leaving jobs open that companies are left to fill.  

“What we’ve seen in the data suggests to us as of late is that every time a worker enters the workforce, a new job is created,” Mooney said.  

Robeson says the race for companies is where Springfield needs to be taken seriously. 

“Make no mistake it is a competition,” said Robeson. “There will be winners and there will be losers. 

“What are we doing to make those visitors go, ‘Wow, maybe I want to live in Springfield. Let me check out what jobs are available here,’ so are we leveraging and using those recourses to make sure that when we have the opportunities that we’re taking full advantage of it?” 

But how does Springfield come out on top as a winner in the contest for companies looking to relocate? 

“Well we have, kind of, a chicken or the egg, you know, chicken or egg situation,” Robeson said. 

Peter Kageyama, the author of, “For the Love of Cities,” says people in Springfield have to demonstrate that they love their city.  

He suggests going to parks, participating in community gardens and going downtown to support business. That makes the city enjoyable for people that will be filling the open jobs left by baby boomers. 

“Having a great workplace, that’s important but also, a great city, that’s important too,” Kageyama said over Facetime. “If you get those two working together, then you’re far more likely to see that talent stay in a place. Cities, companies they’re natural allies in this process.” 

What they’re seeing is that they’re connected. If you want more companies to come to your city, you must have people there to fill the jobs. To have people there to fill jobs, you must have people demonstrating to others that they love their city to get even more people to move there.  

“The term for that is a virtuous cycle,” said Kageyama. “Where good things compound upon good things. That’s exactly what you’re hoping for. We’re very familiar with the vicious cycle but the virtuous cycle is the exact opposite of that.” 

“From our perspective,” Mooney said. “We’re talking about a lot of big community projects that…how do we take those on as a community and make those big investments?” 

Mooney says the city needs to constantly work toward improving…and they are.  

“We have to continually be pushing our community to even better and higher expectations of ourselves,” said Mooney. “If we do that, we know companies are going to respond and we know that for the next couple of decades, we’re going to be dealing with worker shortages and that’s the number one thing that companies are thinking about. 

“We feel like Springfield has a lot of good things going for it right now, but we need to continue to enhance that. We need to figure out how we can get to an even better community. Where, more people will want to live and work.” 

Mooney also said the city is heavily focused on providing education to enhance Springfield’s talent pipeline.

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