The Great Transition: Is Your Community Prepared?

Seismic population, demographic and cultural shifts are beginning to take place in communities across the U.S. Engagement, pride, investment, economic and workforce sustainability, or all of the above, hang in the balance for many of these communities. We might consider these collective forces ‘The Great Transition.’ Communities must consider how they plan to position themselves to reach their preferred futures amid the variety of significant market changes The Great Transition is bringing.

Driving a lot of these shifts is the retirement rate for Baby Boomers, which has accelerated considerably since COVID-19. According to Pew Research Center, about 29 million Boomers retired in 2020, which is about three million more than 2019. About 75 million are expected to retire by 2030, leading to what some call ‘The Great Retirement.’ 

For cities, countries and regions, we like to think of ‘The Great Retirement’ as ‘The Great Transition’ instead. As the skills often championed by Baby Boomers for years begin to disappear, other, more progressive competencies will increasingly emerge. 

Small-to-medium-sized communities – where the abilities and industries of Boomers drove economic growth and sustainability for decades – will face pressure to replenish talent and broaden their economies more than ever. Through the right strategy, they can rethink how they position themselves to residents, businesses and other prospects in order to ensure long-term economic viability. 

Beyond the health and evolution of local economies, civic engagement has also arrived at an inflection point. Younger generations aren’t joining professional associations or faith, nonprofit and service organizations (such as Rotary and Kiwanis) at the same rate as their parents and grandparents. These groups have historically played a significant role in advancing and protecting community interests.

As these institutions experience even steeper declines in support, membership and contributions, your community’s collective spirit and voice that it has enjoyed for years will become less defined. 

These are just a couple of areas where U.S. communities are feeling the effects of ‘The Great Transition.’ There are many challenges associated with this trend, but with every challenge comes an opportunity.

Ultimately, this transition period is about how communities rethink their position in the marketplace to reach their preferred futures. What does your evolving population represent? What are you to this emerging demographic? How do we engage them to invest themselves and build together for the long term? What skills and talents exist among them and to what industries are they attractive? 

A community brand development process can help answer those questions. It’s a strategic and important endeavor that expands beyond replacing people, jobs or a few lots downtown. We’re not patching a leaky bucket – we’re renovating the bucket for a stronger future.

Through brand development, you discover what is distinct, authentic and ownable about your community. It uncovers a narrative that describes why you are unique. It tells your story before others tell it for you, especially as population and economic shifts take place. It inspires your residents to buy in.

Your brand not only engages and fosters buy-in among the people that call it home – it also positions your community as the place others should come to visit, work, invest and live. 

Let’s get to renovating and rethinking together so the Great Transition becomes your great opportunity.