In today’s turbulent times, many young professionals (20- to 40-year-olds) are viewing their work-life balance through a different set of lenses than prior generations. Historically, the life plan for most has been to get an education, find a job, buy a house and settle into a community. Today’s YP generation is doing things differently by finding a community that meets their needs and then finding a job-sometimes phrased as "work to live" rather than "live to work." Although sometimes misconceived, this posture should not be taken as a lack of commitment, but rather a change in priorities. One significant benefit is that as individuals becomes enriched by their surroundings, they become more productive in their communities and professions.

Young professionals today are considerably more critical about what a community has to offer in terms of lifestyle. For example, are there good coffee shops, and what is available after work hours for shopping, entertainment or sporting events? Building communities within our community, such as Peoria’s downtown riverfront area and warehouse district, shows solid opportunities on the horizon. YPs are pushing for communities that allow you to park your car for the day, go to work, grab lunch and meet up with friends for dinner, all without driving anywhere.

Each year, Next Generation Consulting (NGC) of Madison, Wisconsin publishes a list of "Next Cities"–which cites the best places to live and work for young professionals. NGC has studied the relocation patterns of young professionals since 1998. The highest ranked cities are or have the capacity to be great places to live and work for the next generation. According to NGC founder Rebecca Ryan, "simply being the cheapest place to live or the city with the most jobs is not a long-term workforce strategy." Although jobs are important, Ryan goes on to say "the next generation is very savvy about choosing where they’ll live." YPs today look carefully at quality-of-life factors. The study analyzes communities by evaluating indicators like:

The study classifies communities into three population sizes-Mighty Micros (100K-200K), Midsized Magnets (200K-500K) and Super Cities (500K or more). Peoria is considered to be a Mighty Micro.

By no accident, Peoria was selected and ranked 16th in NCG’s 2009 listing. Employers, individuals and organizations have made significant investments that help to attract, engage and retain members of our community. With this accolade, we must continue to shape our community to meet the changing needs of generations to come. Bear in mind that our future leaders are looking for the ideal community to call home. Let’s continue to be the community of choice! iBi