Millennial Council to Hold Listening Sessions Across N.H.

Feb 5, 2018

The millennial council has met several times since September, and now plans to hold meetings across the state to get feedback from young people and stakeholders in local communities.
Credit Casey McDermott / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu's Millennial Advisory Council is still waiting to hear the governor's feedback on a set of policy recommendations they put together at his request last month. 

In the meantime, the group continues to meet. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with council member Carolyn Leary about upcoming plans on how to address issues millennials are facing in the state. 


(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

Carolyn, you're a young professional yourself living in Manchester. Why don't you tell us a little more about you and your background?

Sure. So I grew up in Manchester and you know loved being in that community growing up, but sort of thought there's not a lot for me here anymore. So I went to college out of state, and then I was gone for about eight years in other large areas. So I was in New York City, and D.C., and you know then really started missing New Hampshire and all the wonderful amenities the state has to offer. So I moved back to Manchester about two and a half years ago, and it's been really a wonderful experience seeing the city grow and change. And you know we have so many new amenities in the city that weren't there when I was growing up. So along with that, you know it's been really fun getting to see all the young professionals that have come to the Manchester area and the state at large.

Attracting I think a younger workforce to an area like Manchester or Portsmouth, you know, maybe Concord or Nashua—that's one thing. It is harder to get them into places like Berlin and Claremont and so on. So what is the council hearing about changing that?

One of the exciting things that we're going to be doing in the year ahead that we just talked about is taking the show on the road. So we'll be meeting across the state in the upcoming months, hosting events, or meetings or just opportunities to bring in outside groups that have not been a part of the council thus far. So I think we really need to take some time and figure out what the workforce issues are across the state, really get a good understanding of them. So we can start to strategize with young professionals, not only in the southern part of the state, but in the North Country where job opportunities are different. You know the amenities up there are different, but I think we have a good opportunity to figure out how to market that part of the state and be effective in that so that young professionals do see that there are opportunities statewide, across all of New Hampshire. It's just figuring out how to get that story out and share that message, and I think we have a big opportunity to do that.

I know you are doing those listening sessions and meetings on the road. But can you give us a brief overview of some of the recommendations that the council has submitted to the governor so far?

The recommendations are more for us to have an opportunity to learn more. So really just getting an understanding of how we can be advocates for young professionals—that was sort of what our first report focused on. So now the next steps are here, now that 2018 has come. You know I think that we have an opportunity to focus a little more on advocacy as a council. So you know maybe that's putting out some bills that we think are important to young professionals, hearing from legislators and having them come speak to our committee so we can get their thoughts on things. You know I think something that's exciting about this council is we do all have so many different viewpoints, but we're from a similar age demographic. So we have a big opportunity to you know look at things, not from a partisan standpoint, but bring in lots of different stakeholders and then figure out how those issues make an impact on young professionals.

I'm wondering how that will work. You're saying the council does plan on getting involved on the legislative side of things. Could that potentially create some kind of conflict if the governor isn't backing your initiatives?

I really do think that as a council we might agree on different issues or have different perspectives on things, but I think that it will give us a chance to really share what young professionals are looking for. So we want to be a voice for young professionals across the state, and I think that the governor and his office has been very open to that and hearing our perspective. Young professionals haven't had direct access to the governor like this in really over 10 years. Right now in the legislature, you know young officials don't have as much of a voice as you know we do have an impact across the state.

One of our listeners from Concord submitted a question to us on millennial issues recently. Kelly Buchanan is a 24 year old young professional. She moved to Concord from Boulder, Colorado after graduation for a job. And she says that she would love to see more growth of New Hampshire's downtown areas—I think you alluded to that—more opportunities for engaging millennials, making the state a more attractive place for young people in general. But if you want to build the downtown, of course you need to do that on the city or town wide level. Does the council see itself getting involved at the municipal level?

Everybody on the council is very involved in their home community, whether it's through their local young professional network, volunteer activities, even in their professional career. You know I spend a lot of time in Manchester talking with our members about ways that we can improve downtown. Coming up in March we're going to have our first meeting in Manchester. So we don't have all the details confirmed yet, but you know I imagine that at that event we will bring in key stakeholders, and business leaders and young professionals from Manchester to talk about that specific community and how young professionals can make an impact in Manchester. But what are some of the things that we can do in Manchester to make it more attractive, to market it differently? So I do envision us having an opportunity to go across the state, talk to the local communities about what they want for young professionals and what the young professionals in that community want from our council, and how we can make a difference in that area.