Young Professionals Engaged in Stark County

Next Leaders Survey benchmarks ystark!’s impact on young professional community

ystark!, the Canton Regional Chamber’s young professional initiative, contracted with Next Generation Consulting, to conduct an online survey designed to gauge the level of impact that the organization has had on young professionals in Stark County, and to what extent ystark! has fulfilled their mission of attracting, retaining and engaging YPs.


Next Generation Consulting is led by Rebecca Ryan, the consultant hired in 2005 to assess the Canton/Stark County region and its aptitude for cultivating a brain gain. With Ryan’s guidance, the community, led by the Canton Regional Chamber, developed the Brain Drain to Brain Gain initiative, which ultimately became ystark!


The Next Leaders Survey (NLS) measures young people’s perceptions of the community’s quality of life, and also predicts possible “YP flight” from a community. The survey also measures the direct impact YPs make on their communities, including volunteerism, voter registration and participation, job creation, and economic impact.


The survey was completed by 237 Stark County young professionals; comprised of 166 ystark! members and 71 non-members.


The following is a topline overview of the Next Leaders Survey results. Click here to download a copy of the full Next Leaders Survey.


Survey results show that ystark! has had a positive impact on the quality of life for area young professionals:


  • 69% of all respondents (76% of members and 59% of non-members) said their perception of the Canton region’s quality of life was very positively or somewhat positively impacted by ystark!.
  • Additionally, 27% of all respondents (34% of members and 19% of non-members) said they were more likely to stay in the community because of ystark!.


Our region has an interesting YP makeup: while 48% of respondents were “lifers,” 20% define themselves as boomerangers (raised here, moved away and eventually returned) and 32% are transplants.


  • 77% of all respondents had a VERY POSITIVE or SOMEWHAT POSITIVE perception of Canton.
  • Ÿ72% of all respondents plan to stay in Canton for at least five years; while 53% plan to stay in the region for the long-haul: 16+ years!
  • 85% of YPs feel that that they can afford the cost of living in our community; Cost of Lifestyle (living in a community where I can afford to live work and play) is the most important factor when valuing a community (95%).


Young professionals in the Canton region are invested in the community!

  • ŸNearly all (97%) are registered voters, and 73% voted in the last local election.
  • The vast majority (82%) volunteer in their community at least once a month, with an average of approximately 10 hours per month.
  • ŸVolunteerism was highest at non-profit organizations (47%), followed by educational initiatives (33%), and individual assistance (27%).
  • Last but not least, respondents were very charitable, with 83% donating over $50 to nonprofit or charitable organizations over the last 6 months, with an average donation of approximately $750 (and a total of $178,000 for all respondents).


Entrepreneurship and business leadership are crucial elements in Canton/Stark County community.


  • Approximately 11% of respondents identified themselves as entrepreneurs or business owners.
  • Earning (I want a broad choice of places to work and an environment that is friendly to entrepreneurs) is the second most important factor when valuing a community (93%).


Overall, the survey respondents were:

  • Well-educated (88% have a four-year degree or higher)
  • Married or living with a significant other (63%)
  • Mobile (53% do not have children)
  • Home-owners (68%), with an average home value of approximately $170,000
  • Working in Management, Professional, and Related Occupations (68%)
  • Earning a median individual income of approximately $47,500
  • Less than 35 years old (71%)


How important is the young professional community to the greater Canton/Stark County business community?


While the vast majority of our respondents plan to stay in the community, 13% do plan to leave within the next two years.


What kind of economic impact could this have on the community? Using a standard economic impact calculator of 1.2 we can see that when a YP leaves our community, it makes a $57,000 impact per person.


In other words, the Canton region will lose an average of $57,000 for each young professional who leaves the area. With 13% of young professionals planning to leave, and approximately 23,930 young professionals in the Canton-Massillon metro area, the area stands to lose a total of $177 MILLION in the next two years. 

We believe that these findings demonstrate the importance of our mission - to attract, retain and engage YPs - and show that we are delivering on these objectives. But we believe there is still much work ahead. For more information about ystark! and ways you can get involved, be sure to explore our website and create a YP Profile.

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