Viewed on a map or at face value, Windsor and Grand Rapids, Mich., are in some ways similar.

Both are midwestern cities in their respective countries. Each has about 200,000 residents. Both have a waterfront, a university and nightlife.

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Like Windsor, Grand Rapids is a city that has managed to keep some of the charm of its older buildings.

But unlike the Rose City, Grand Rapids has won over its younger population. Millennials love Grand Rapids.

"We're a cool city," said Bridget Clark.

"There's lots of variety, lots of events that you can go to," added Amanda Passage.

The downtown core in Grand Rapids is a hub for young professionals. The city is bursting with initiatives to keep millennials here.

Retaining young professionals

The Right Place is a regional non-profit economic development organization that helps local businesses grow by matching local talent with local companies.

And most of that talent comes from the area's universities and colleges.

In an effort to keep young people in the city, Grand Valley State University assists by giving 7,000 internships to their students each year.

"There's actually millions of dollars saved by those local industries because they're getting talent that they can try out. And then, in turn, they can say, 'Hey! Want to stay on board and we can continue this relationship?'" university president Tom Haas said.

George Bosnjak is the business development manager at the Right Place.  He tracks university grads.

"We have a full graduate list every year - of how many people graduate in everything from fashion design to engineering to finance to accounting to food processing," Bosnjak said. "There [are] about 300 different degrees that we graduate and we track every year."

And once they graduate, many of them are immersed in leadership roles in the community.  The centre for community leadership keeps the development going.

Part of the community

The city's business community doesn't abandon students once they've graduated. The Centre for Community Leadership, a resource of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, places grads in key community leadership roles.

"We introduce them to key initiatives that are going on in the area," the centre's marketing coordinator Lizzie Williams said. Arts and culture is also a major part of the city's identity.

The city's ArtPrize is an arts festival that describes itself as part festival, part social experiment. The winner of the international contest is decided solely by public vote and takes home $250,000 US.

Rick DeVos is the founder of ArtPrize. 

"You can see more people in the streets than you can any other time of the year," he said. "It's sort of almost a community open house because of the nature of art prize venues are everything from sides of buildings to office spaces to restaurants everything."

Negatives into positives

Opportunities and acceptance are seemingly everywhere.

Rob Bliss and two fellow twenty-somethings started Status Creative when they became dismayed by the fact Grand Rapids was featured in a Newsweek article entitled America's Dying Cities.

Bliss and his partners shot a video chock full of youth singing the praises of their city. It went viral, received 3 million views on Youtube and garnered international attention.

"There is just this willingness to accept new ideas," Bliss said.

"If you see something you want to participate in you can make a difference you can help," Kirstin Quinn said.

Michael Lomonaco is marketing director for Open Systems Technologies, a technology consulting firm.

He said companies and residents invest in a sense of community to make their town or city a place people want to call home.

"Open Systems Technologies' Fun Days didn't bring us a multi-billion dollar account, but it did in the sense that we invested back into our employees and that's what's important," he said. "We've also had folks like ArtPrize that have reinvested into the culture of Grand Rapids so that young people and old people alike look at it and say that's where I want to be because it's a beautiful city, it's growing, there's jobs there, but it's also a lot of fun."

With files from Arda Zakarian