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30 May

Havasu’s ABC team to target younger demo

Job opportunities hurt by disproportionate older citizenry

  • By HALEY WALTERS TODAY’S NEWS-HERALD

Lake Havasu City’s America’s Best Communities Contest team will spend the next ten months perfecting its five-pronged development plan – and it will do it with young people in mind.

Demographic starvation was a key concern identified during an ABC team meeting on Thursday. The disproportionate amount of older to younger citizens in Lake Havasu City is jeopardizing its job opportunities with a smaller workforce – and that can be fatal for communities who do not try to even out their age groups, Mayor Mark Nexsen said.

“For us to be sustainable, we have to make some changes. The biggest change we’re trying to make is in our demographics,” Nexsen said. “If we’re able to change our demographics that means jobs will be available. If we have jobs available then the town is more sustainable.”

City Manager Charlie Cassens said the city had a “wake-up call” a few years ago when Havasu was passed up by a large business interested in setting up a call center in the area.

“The company decided to go elsewhere because we didn’t have the workforce it needed,” Cassens said.

The average Havasu resident is 53 years old, making Havasu an older city demographically than most other U.S. towns, which are typically made up of 37-year-olds on average. Nexsen said the city needs more 22 to 44 year-olds for it to thrive, but those people need jobs.

Last month the city won $100,000 through the America’s Best Communities contest to develop their plan that consists of five focuses. Plans for that money will be divided into each initiative as follows:

• Economic Development and Job Creation will be allocated $45,000

• Education and Talent Supply $15,000

• Tourism and Place Development $8,500

 • Water $10,000

• Community Engagement $21,500

“Our vision was one that the judges, and many of the other communities, thought was very high-level thinking. [Other] cities presented one or two specific projects – they were going to make a Makerspace or some kind of lab or an interactive trail. Ours was a completely comprehensive plan with an outlandish goal,” said James Gray, president of the Partnership for Economic Development. “If you really think about what we’re trying to do about demographic starvation and lowering the median age of our community, it’s high-level thinking.”

On Thursday the ABC Team welcomed about a dozen new members who were, not-so-coincidentally, Havasu professionals mostly under the age of 35.

“We took the median age of people who have been driving this thing so far and cut it down,” Gray said. “We’re going to take people who are going to be here in the future and let them have a hands-on to what we’re trying to achieve.”

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