Eclectic Curiosity


Posted on May 18th, 2002, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

The Rise of the Creative Class: Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race. It’s an excellent article about “the creative class” of new knowledge workers and where they live (in the U.S.) and why. It even has rankings of American cities by such variables as creativity, innovation and diversity. Some excerpts:

“More and more businesses understand that ethos and are making the adaptations necessary to attract and retain creative class employees—everything from relaxed dress codes, flexible schedules, and new work rules in the office to hiring recruiters who throw Frisbees. Most civic leaders, however, have failed to understand that what is true for corporations is also true for cities and regions: Places that succeed in attracting and retaining creative class people prosper; those that fail don’t.”

“Stuck in old paradigms of economic development, cities like Buffalo, New Orleans, and Louisville struggled in the 1980s and 1990s to become the next “Silicon Somewhere” by building generic high-tech office parks or subsidizing professional sports teams. Yet they lost members of the creative class, and their economic dynamism, to places like Austin, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Seattle—places more tolerant, diverse, and open to creativity. Because of this migration of the creative class, a new social and economic geography is emerging in America…”

“Creative centers also tend to be places with thick labor markets that can fulfill the employment needs of members of the creative class, who, by and large, are not looking just for “a job” but for places that offer many employment opportunities.”

“Cities and regions that attract lots of creative talent are also those with greater diversity and higher levels of quality of place. That’s because location choices of the creative class are based to a large degree on their lifestyle interests, and these go well beyond the standard “quality-of-life” amenities that most experts think are important.”

“The creative class people I study use the word “diversity” a lot, but not to press any political hot buttons. Diversity is simply something they value in all its manifestations. This is spoken of so often, and so matter-of-factly, that I take it to be a fundamental marker of creative class values. Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, trade views and spar over issues.”

“As with employers, visible diversity serves as a signal that a community embraces the open meritocratic values of the creative age. The people I talked to also desired nightlife with a wide mix of options. The most highly valued options were experiential ones—interesting music venues, neighborhood art galleries, performance spaces, and theaters. A vibrant, varied nightlife was viewed by many as another signal that a city “gets it,” even by those who infrequently partake in nightlife. More than anything, the creative class craves real experiences in the real world.”

The article’s authour, Richard Florida, is a professor of regional economic development at Carnegie Mellon University and has just published a book this month titled “The Rise of the Creative Class: and How Its Transforming Work”.





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