Bridging the generation gap in Lake Tahoe |

Bridging the generation gap in Lake Tahoe

Jenna Palacio

As Lake Tahoe's Baby Boomer generation prepares to retire, it's time for all of us to start thinking about passing the proverbial torch to the next generation in the business community. And just in time, a generation of bright, talented young people are standing up to breathe new life into South Lake Tahoe.

Meet the Millennial generation: Young adults born between 1980 through the early 2000s, called "Generation Y." They're our area's highest educated, technologically savvy demographic, according to a study released last month by Pew Research. The good news is that there's a network of young professionals here in town ready to step into leadership positions (some already have) but there's limited opportunity for them in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Low pay, low employment rates and a low level of understanding of how this generation can make a difference in the destination are some of the many factors that lead to this group taking their talents elsewhere. But these factors also lead to remarkable things. As a Millennial myself, I see my peers starting new businesses here in town ­— creating their own dream jobs and starting new businesses and nonprofit organizations. These new businesses contribute not only to South Lake Tahoe's tax base, they make the destination better as a whole by offering products and services that didn't exist before.

Lake Tahoe's future depends on the cooperation of Baby Boomers and Millennials to carry the momentum of our community's redevelopment and environmental improvement initiatives that are currently being put in place. We urgently need to bridge the generation gap to ensure a collaborative, stronger tomorrow. Not sure how? Here are a few ways get started:

Become a mentor: Open a line of communication with promising staff members and share your personal and professional experiences with them. Hear their stories, too.

Recognize talent in the workplace: Don't just praise them, raise them. Invest in training and pay Millennials what they're worth based on education, passion and professionalism.

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Encourage young professionals to get involved: If you conduct a high level of business in town, bring a promising team member to observe an important meeting or include them in the decision making process.

Collaborate: Consider a business membership to the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals, which provides two interchangeable passes to monthly professional development workshops and networking events — anyone can get involved with TRYP.

Let's shed the stereotypes and look at the facts. Millennials here in Tahoe want to get involved and are more likely to volunteer on matters that are important to them. They're coming into affluence and are the next generations of homeowners, while also being more likely to invest their discretionary income in the local economy. Think about how a 5-percent raise would affect the local spending of a young professional. Or better yet, think of how doing business with young professionals would boost your company's revenue. There's much to gain from one another if we work together.

Jenna Palacio is an active member of the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals.

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