Both the outgoing and incoming presidents of the U.S. Conference of Mayors agree they must look to the future in order to grow their cities. Attracting younger citizens helps cities keep up with infrastructure costs, harnessing new technologies and growing the workforce.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (R) say they have seen growth in the millennial populations in their cities, leading to more economic growth.

“Millennials are very choosy about where they are going to live, the reason they are going to Baltimore and Oklahoma City it’s because they are getting what they are seeking,” Cornett says. “Economic development is really the result of place making and so cities that are attractive to millennials are going to grow.”

“I think what works and what works in Baltimore is an acceptance that we have to use all of the tools we have in order to see the growth that we want to see,” Rawlings-Blake says. “For me, I saw that we had an emerging tech and innovation industry and even when we had a challenging budget. Knowing that, I increased funding for that sector and we’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth.”

Rawlings-Blake passed the gavel as president of the Conference to Cornett on June 27. He says he has a long wish list of important tasks, but there are some that make the top of the list.

“Almost everything that we do is important but certainly infrastructure, criminal justice reform, I also think we need to roll up our sleeves and get ready for the technology advances that are coming. Autonomous vehicles, flying cars. What’s coming? It’s going to directly affect how citizens interact with the infrastructure that is in place.”

See our interview to learn more about how the country’s top mayors are working together to achieve economic growth and about Rawlings-Blake’s call for cities to aid Flint, MI.

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