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GRADE REPORT FOR GREENSBORO

by Whitney Kenerly

TOLERANCE

Millennials tend to lean on the socially progressive side. According to studies conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Center for American Progress, people born after 1980 are more accepting of LGBTQ communities, more supportive of gender and racial equality, and more tolerant of other religions than older generations. Young professionals are looking for cities than reflect these values.

Even though Amendment One passed by a small margin in Guilford County, the ultimate outcome made a strong statement to LGBTQ communities and allies.

Greensboro currently has one gay bar, Chemistry Nightclub, and one gay/lesbian bar, the Q. Many young LGBTQ youth look to their schools for resources and support. UNCG and Guilford County both have very active and visible student organizations. For non-students there are groups like the Triad Equality Alliance and Alternative Resources of the Triad.

Greensboro may have a history of religious tolerance dating back to the original Quaker communities, but it is still a very churchy city. Men’s Health ranked Greensboro as the second most religious city in the country in a 2010 poll. The city has less than five Islamic centers and a handful of active synagogues, so most of the congregations in Greensboro belong to Christian churches, specifically Protestant ones.

Just because a population is predominately Christian, doesn’t necessary mean it’s less open-minded, but the visible imbalance in a city like Greensboro could prevent some young adults from feeling like they can be out and open about who they really are.

OPPORTUNITIES

Two of the hottest cities in the country for people under 30 are San Francisco and Seattle. These west coast havens for creative tech bubbles attract the best and brightest college graduates. For creative millennials, an innovative business atmosphere is a major draw.

According to the Triad Business Journal, the top employers in Greensboro are Cone Health, United Parcel Services and Time Warner Cable. These companies aren’t exactly Amazon or Google, but they are relatively modern for a city where the major source of income was once cotton, textiles, and more cotton.

Greensboro, High Point and Winston- Salem were built on blue collar manufacturing economies. We used to make things here, and a lot of them. Now Greensboro is experiencing a slower economic recovery than other cities in the state as it struggles to find a post-denim identity.

Greensboro’s largest economic sector according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is “Trade, Transportation and Utilities.” This is followed by “Manufacturing” in second place, and the millennial-grabbing “Professional and Business Services” in third. Greensboro’s manufacturing sector is significantly larger than that of nearby Charlotte and Raleigh, while its professional sector dwindles in comparison. The good news is that even though the manufacturing sector is shrinking in the Triad, professional services are growing.

Millennials also look for networking and professional development opportunities in their city, and Greensboro has made a conscious effort to create young professional networking groups such as SynerG to foster an emerging web of community-engaged young adults in the area. The Forge, a community makerspace, just opened downtown and a coworking space next to Elon law school is expected to open the fall.

Creative community spaces are great, but young adults are also looking for jobs that pay well. With a median household income of $41,000 a year, Greensboro residents unfortunately earn $10,000 less than the national average.

AFFORDABILITY

Even compared to the rest of North Carolina, Greensboro is very affordable. For a young post-grad trying to pay off college loans with an entry-level job, a lower cost of living can be extremely attractive.

According to Area Vibes, the cost of living in Greensboro is 12.6 percent less than the average in the state, and 15.7 percent less than the national average. It’s cheaper to live, eat and drink in Greensboro than most cities of its size, meaning millennials can enjoy city amenities at a small town price.

The current national housing market may be better for buyers, but the average cost of rent is rising higher than a trendy downtown condominium. Greensboro’s median rent of $717 per month is still well below the national average of $801. So even if Greensboro isn’t exciting enough for a resdient cool young professional, they can still afford the gas money to get out of town for the weekend.

WALKING AND BIKING

College campuses create walkable communities that millennials look for in their post-grad lives. With rising fuel prices and a growing awareness of global warming, fewer and fewer young professionals own cars. While Greensboro has made steps in the right direction, it is still a terribly inconvenient city for anyone who doesn’t own a car.

Walk Score gave Greensboro a 28 rating for walkability, making it a car-dependent city. The most walkable zip codes were the 27403 and 27402 areas near UNCG, with a score of 50, indicating that some errands could be accomplished on foot.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, only 1.67 percent of people in Greensboro walk to work. This is well below the national average of roughly 3 percent The League does recognize Greensboro as one of 11 bicycle friendly communities in the state, and awarded the city a bronze level medal in 2009. But the League also notes that less than 25 percent of the streets have dedicated facilities for bicyclists.

The further someone is from downtown, the harder it is to get around without a car. Young professionals in Greensboro are starting to flock to many of the new apartment complexes downtown where they are able to walk to work during the week and stagger home from the bars on weekends.

The Downtown Greenways and BiPed Plan should improve all of these ratings, but the massive projects will most likely take several more years. Until then, the GTA bus system will continue to be a lifeline for many residents.

LIFESTYLE

This category is obvious, yet subjective.

Young, single adults like to go out and have fun. But where?

For daytime fun, you can’t beat Greensboro’s parks, unless you would rather spend some green than commune with it. Area Vibes gave Greensboro an “A” for shopping amenities, and the city has just about every store a millennial could want.

Nightlife is where people have their own biases. Compared to other cities in the state Greensboro has a higher ratio of clubs to bars. For people who enjoy clubs, this is great! Beer enthusiasts looking for new bars with darts and pool tables could find it less appealing. For a city that is home to Natty Greene’s Brewery, many bars in Greensboro tend to have a relatively small selection of local and craft beers. For the microbrewery loving 20-something, this can be pretty lame Things become even more idiosyncratic when considering the live music scene. After years of competing with Raleigh and Charlotte for top contemporary acts, Greensboro has settled into a different niche and has become a go-to destination for country, hip-hop, and classic rock acts. There is nothing wrong with this, but if you’re an indie music loving millennial then you’ll probably have to travel in order to catch a show by almost any band with a song that Pitchfork Media has deemed a “Best New Track.”

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