A series of articles examining why young people are leaving the Cape and profiling some who have stayed and made it here.
Although there are many young and successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople on Cape Cod, they are in fact a dying breed. Cape Codders age 25 to 44 have been leaving Cape Cod in droves to search for greener pastures. From 2000-2010 the population of 25- to 44-year-old residents declined 26 percent.
The fact that a quarter of our youth has left means, of course, that the Cape is getting older. Not only that, but the area is losing the energy, vibrancy, new ideas and the accompanying revenue that a young population brings.
Why is this? Why is it that so much homegrown talent finds it so hard to achieve success on this side of the bridges? The Barnstable-based Cape Cod Young Professionals took it upon themselves to try to find out. In September, 2013 the CCYP launched a survey known as ‘Shape of the Cape.’ Data was collected from more than 5,200 people from the 25- to 44-year-old age group. The data was sent for analysis to the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.
The full 160-page report is online at ShapetheCape.org but the main findings are relatively evident. The main reasons for the sharp and continuing decline in the youth population on Cape Cod are:
1. The lack of affordable housing. Homeowners in the key demographic are spending more than the recommended percentage of their monthly income on their mortgage.
2. The need for year-round employment that provides a living-wage and a chance for professional advancement.
CCYP is hoping to help change that. Some of the group’s suggestions for making the Cape more attractive to younger workers include increasing high-speed internet connectivity; cross-marketing between municipal, civic, and business leaders; stepping up the timelines of needed approvals for new businesses; and increasing local amenities like daycare.
When it comes to the housing dilemma, CCYP looks toward Boston and its ‘Millennial Village’ concept. This housing, targeting younger workers, features smaller apartments and many shared amenities like common lounges, laundry facilities, and exercise areas. The advantages are obvious: greater affordability and giving young professionals places to gather and network.
Stefanie Coxe, a dialed-in young professional who is the founder of Nexus Werx Consulting believes the Cape Cod scene for young professionals is already improving.
“Young people have so many more options these days,” she says. “There’s the mentor exchange program, tons of events, a whole local movement. In my opinion, people who say there’s nothing to do on the Cape haven’t looked lately.
“My calendar is constantly filled,” she continued. “There’s a vibrant community of young people. But as a fellow business owner once said to me, the Cape’s social scene isn’t going to show up at your door. You’ve gotta go out and look for it. But it’s there and it’s growing.”
In the coming months, Capecod.com will profile some of the young professionals who are determined to make a living in the place that they love.
These entrepreneurs and businesspeople are bucking the trend. They haven’t fled to Boston, they have stayed and despite the obstacles they are making it on Cape Cod.
— By Christopher Setterlund