Some say the U.S college town is the next Detroit.
|Jobs, sales, and tax revenues in college towns have depended heavily on campus teaching and research. That’s made them prosperous in good times or bad.
But higher education is changing to respond to high costs, five-figure student loan debts, and automation and offshoring of college graduates’ jobs. These changes may affect the economies of college towns.
Observers even see a parallel with Midwestern auto plant towns and college communities. College towns, they warn, could be the next Detroit.
To maintain and grow their prosperity, says John L. Gann in CarpeHoram's The Third Lifetime Place, college towns still do well to diversify economically.
And they have a unique and powerful but as yet underutilized economic asset that can help do that.
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But it’s not research parks. It’s instead the special resources found in every college town and the emotional connection with thousands of alumni.
Academia assumes its chief asset is knowledge, but a more potent marketing asset is feelings.
Booming Florida is a favored place in working and retirement years because it became a Third Lifetime Place (TLP). But with the Baby Boomers' embrace of education and later generations, college towns can replace vacationlands as tomorrow’s TLP.
New roles as A Place for Sports, A Place to Meet, A Place to Heal, and A Place to Vacation can make college towns A Place to Live and A Place to Retire.
Overlooked Economic Value
The Third Lifetime Place offers unconventional wisdom, looking beyond the past to a better future.
John, with a degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s in city planning, had an Extension appointment at Cornell and has lived in several college towns. He's done consulting and training in economic growth marketing. His How to Evaluate (and Improve) Your Community’s Marketing was published by the International City/County Management Association.
John is fascinated with finding overlooked economic value. His Marketing UNterstate Highways: Bringing Out-of-Town Dollars to Non-Destination Small Towns, shows how towns and businesses can be boosted using our older roads. Now John sees opportunities to make college towns more successful.