With vibrant downtown art and entertainment districts, a burgeoning culinary scene, and neighborhoods bustling with shops and creative spaces, both traditional and alternative, it’s easy to see why businesses and families are moving to Palm Beach County. University graduates are settling here to seize employment opportunities in I.T., life sciences, aviation and aerospace, financial services, and other industries. Today, the median age in Palm Beach County is 43.2, and the number of residents aged 20–34 has grown by more than 15% since 1990, while the 15–19 age bracket increased more than 45%.
Not as easy to see, but of tremendous importance to our economy, are the talented and brave entrepreneurs in Palm Beach County who are inventing new products, creating services, and building processes that will change the world. Many of these startup companies are being created by the generation commonly referred to as Millennials.
Who are Millennials, exactly? Excerpts from Wikipedia tell us that “Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe ascribe seven basic traits to the Millennial cohort: special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving.” Psychologist Jean Twenge, author of the 2006 book Generation Me, attributes Millennials with the traits of confidence and tolerance, but also describes a sense of entitlement and narcissism. Pew Research Center issued a report about how “Millennials in adulthood” are “detached from institutions and networked with friends.” It’s clear that trying to generalize attributes of people born between 1983 and 2000 doesn’t do justice to this population that is making waves in Palm Beach County.
The business-friendly environment that inspired hundreds of enterprises to relocate to Palm Beach County during the past 15 years is matched by our belief in entrepreneurship Millennials find that this is the ideal ecosystem for growth—and I’m not talking about our physical ecosystem of 75-degree weather, 45 miles of coastline, and natural beauty!
Startups are nurtured by the entrepreneurship program at Lynn University, Florida Atlantic University’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship, Palm Beach State College’s Business Entrepreneurship A.S., and college credit certificate programs: the Small Business Development Center of Florida, SCORE, Palm Beach County’s Office of Small Business Assistance, and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County’s Eship.org portal where we connect entrepreneurs with these resources.
Millennials work here. They work at Palm Beach Tech Space for early-stage startups, at Social House (an artisan studio/work/meet space, and craft beverage bar in artsy Downtown Lake Worth), at The Studio 1016 creative space in West Palm Beach, at Cendyn Spaces (with private, co-working, meeting, and event spaces), at Research Park at Florida Atlantic University (where entrepreneurs, academics and service providers collaborate), at the Hacklab makerspace in Boynton Beach, at Kowerk in West Palm Beach, at co-working space Flamingo House in Boca Raton, and at Regus’ seven workspaces in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, and Jupiter.
When they want to relax, they are greeted by the ocean, 125 peaceful waterways, 85 parks, and recreation options—like bike paths, golf, surfing, tennis courts, kayaking, skate parks, picnic areas, waterparks, eco-adventure, and more. The Brightline high-speed rail service that will connect West Palm Beach to Orlando and Miami will only make the area more attractive.
The real story of Millennials in Palm Beach County is captured by David Burstein in his book Fast Future, describing “pragmatic idealism” with “a deep desire to make the world a better place, combined with an understanding that doing so requires building new institutions while working inside and outside existing institutions.” This is the kind of creativity and resourcefulness that’s energizing neighborhoods, universities and our businesses in The Palm Beaches, and we welcome it with open arms and real support.