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Thread: Rise of the creative class

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    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Rise of the creative class

    Have any of you read the book, or heard the wider hypothesis?

    In essence, that we should pursue building communities based on attraction of the creative class. This challenges a lot of the old notions of economic development.

    Many towns here in Iowa are playing a losing game trying to get an industry, etc, when maybe we should be selling the quality of life: Good schools, an adjacent State Park with a Lake, no commuting, rec trails connected to larger systems.

    Interested to hear some thoughts on this.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66
    Have any of you read the book, or heard the wider hypothesis?
    So, I'm glad to hear that some of IMMI sunk in

    Seriously, if you do a search on Richard Florida you will find several threads on the subject.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by giff57
    So, I'm glad to hear that some of IMMI sunk in

    Seriously, if you do a search on Richard Florida you will find several threads on the subject.
    Well, it sunk in...but its sort of hard to apply to small town Iowa. Not sure how much tolerence you can get. Heck, getting along together now would be an improvement. Do people actually look at this when doing ED? I wonder.

    I wanted some thoughts from people on it.

    Did you like IMMI?

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    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    The creative class doesn't necessarily have to be Florida's creative class. We have a very active arts alliance, and its major support is a group of artists who had quietly been creating in their various locations and a new senior community in town. In combination, the artistic members of our community have put together a performance series, Monday and Tuesday arts movies at the local theater, and a soon to be opened arts center. Those are now the most vital activities in the downtown and we are seeing a more active restaurant/coffee shop/retail establishment. You may have to find your own creative people in town, rather than trying to import them.

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Figure out what your strengths are and that will indicate your target industries. Once you've identified your target industries, you can determine what factors are attractive to that type of industry and the types of workers they need. Your community's strengths may not be suited for the types of industries and workers Florida addresses--you have to inventory your strengths and work from there.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66

    Did you like IMMI?
    It was pretty good. Like always, you get more out of the after hours conversations than you do in the sessions.

    Most do not consider that sort of thing in ED. I did attend a ED conference once that had a session that applied the theories to small towns. Mostly it said that towns need to keep the old cheap downtown buildings available for artists to use.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by giff57
    Most do not consider that sort of thing in ED.
    It really depends on the size and existing strengths of the community. When I worked at a regional ED body for a mid-sized city, our President really like Florida's theories, thought they applied to our region, and integrated them into our targeting plan. It became the central theme for the region's new campaign. The types of businesses we want to attract are the types Florida studies (intellectual as opposed to manufacturing). Depends on the community.

  8. #8
    What makes a community of artists and intellectuals unique is the fact that they are unique...or at least few and far inbetween. I do believe that The US could afford to have a greater number of creative communities... but if every small town tries to attract wealth by flooding the downtown with galleries, you're going to have way more supply than there is demand for. Unfortunately at least on a national scale there needs to be industry, and that usually amounts to manufacturing.

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    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Big Green Scott
    What makes a community of artists and intellectuals unique is the fact that they are unique...or at least few and far inbetween. I do believe that The US could afford to have a greater number of creative communities... but if every small town tries to attract wealth by flooding the downtown with galleries, you're going to have way more supply than there is demand for. Unfortunately at least on a national scale there needs to be industry, and that usually amounts to manufacturing.
    I dont think we are going to have that either, nor is likely attainable. I would be happy if we could attract a somewhat more professional workforce and establish a quality of life identity to build upon. We have an adjacent state park and lake, along with a developed trail system. For a town like ours, I think there is more chance to build a community based upon those strengths rather than playing a losing cost game with manufacturing.

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Big Green Scott
    What makes a community of artists and intellectuals unique is the fact that they are unique...or at least few and far inbetween. I do believe that The US could afford to have a greater number of creative communities... but if every small town tries to attract wealth by flooding the downtown with galleries, you're going to have way more supply than there is demand for. Unfortunately at least on a national scale there needs to be industry, and that usually amounts to manufacturing.
    Richard Florida isn't saying if you build galleries, you'll attract business. The title of the book may imply that, but he's saying if you want to attract creative businesses (and he includes microchip, lawyers, biotech, not just advertising), you should think more about the qualities of the community that attract workers rather than the classic ED approach of looking at what qualities attract businesses (low business taxes, low union rates).

    His thesis is that intellectual-based companies's main asset is their people, so their location critieria is based on the people's needs. This is in contrast to the old model where commodies (steel, paper, cotton) were the manufacturing companies's main asset, so location critiera was based on access to those raw materials. That's why the auto industry was in the northeast and the textile industry was in the south.

    So intellectually-based companies want to locate in places that have all the benefits bright young professionals are attracted to, not just galleries. They want hiking, white water rafting, a night live, museums, etc.

    PS--I know Detriot isn't in the northeast, I was just generalizing to save space.
    Last edited by CosmicMojo; 27 Mar 2006 at 7:24 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by Cosmic Mojo
    intellectually-based companies want to locate in places that have all the benefits bright young professionals are attracted to, not just galleries. They want hiking, white water rafting, a night live, museums, etc.
    I think I better understand the point now... I haven't read the book and was pulling inferences from what little was written here. It sounds really interesting... (I just put in on my Amazon wishlist).

    I'm imagining more of a Microsoft or Google "campus style factory town" now more than a small artsy tourist town. And I can see the appeal of that type of development, or at least the logic in that type of promotion for your region.

    I wonder though how much is based on a corporate structure rather than city structure? Well designed older factory towns crumbled after the corporate structure was changed to favor the management at the expense of the worker (Stock options for CEO's weren't commonplace before the 60's). This was the last dying breath for the middle class in our big manufacturing towns.

    These new intellectually-based companies usually include a large amount of stock options for their workers, so I imagine the risk of that kind of collapse is fairly low, at least until this generation wills it's stocks to their children who've never worked for the company. The motives of corporations are to make the most profit possible... for now it benefits them to have happy well paid and well invested workers, but if the formula ever changes I could see history repeating itself.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CosmicMojo
    PS--I know Detriot isn't in the northeast, I was just generalizing to save space.
    Its not? Last time I checked we were next to Canada and accross the lake from New York. We are i the eastern time zone as well. We are sort of half-way between midwest and the Northeast. I like to think of Detroit as more associated with the province of Ontario than any other part of the United States (outside of Michigan).
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    [QUOTE=Big Green Scott]What makes a community of artists and intellectuals unique is the fact that they are unique...or at least few and far inbetween. I do believe that The US could afford to have a greater number of creative communities... but if every small town tries to attract wealth by flooding the downtown with galleries, you're going to have way more supply than there is demand for. Unfortunately at least on a national scale there needs to be industry, and that usually amounts to manufacturing.[/QUOTE]

    One word: CHINA. There won't be much "manufacturing" left within ten years.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I thought that it was a fascinating book and brought up some very interesting points. Additionally there was an economist who isolated the idea of having an community that was open to the homosexual community. His theory was that if they can attract homosexual men, you have two often higher income, no kids, and individuals that are socially active and spend a good amount of money. Additionally as represented in the documentary “Flag Wars” the director shows how the Gay community is more likely to being the progression of gentrification in extremely impoverished yet historic inner city neighborhoods, without any outside influence.

    Having said all of that, I think that it is just one of many possible economic tools, and should not be the primary focus when establishing economic development programs. I think that a good start is to create vibrate interactive urban cores with a wide range of social and entertainment possibilities. Form that, several different types of businesses, including those listed as creative, will being to emerge within that area. Depending on other development, housing, and economic factors, the growth may or may not spread into impoverished neighborhoods.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Its not? Last time I checked we were next to Canada and accross the lake from New York. We are i the eastern time zone as well. We are sort of half-way between midwest and the Northeast. I like to think of Detroit as more associated with the province of Ontario than any other part of the United States (outside of Michigan).
    thanks. I didn't know if you'd think of it more as northeast or midwest?
    I never thought about how it is so close to Canada...

    This brings up why I like SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) best--it leads you to theories and targets that fit YOUR community best. Each community will have different strengths, and thus, different approaches. There is not one perfect approach or philosophy. What Baltimore needs is not what Detroit needs, or what Richmond has to offer compared to New York.

    Richmond is trying to expand their biotech industry, so our tactics are based on that, rather than manufacturing, or tourism, for example. The biotech industry is part of what Florida calls the creative class, so his book was helpful to us.
    Last edited by CosmicMojo; 29 Mar 2006 at 10:24 AM.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    It should not be a surprise that ANYBODY would want to live in a more desirable community. It is equally true of an artist, an engineer, a tool and die maker, or a store clerk. Several years ago we surveyed the businesses in the community in which I worked, and asked them what were the most significant improvements in recent years. Topping the list were not the industrial park and other major economic development projects, but the new lakefront park, the new residential development, and the new bike path. Why? Because labor topped their list of concerns. Adding housing and improving the quality of life in the community attracted new residents and made it easier for them to recruit people because the community became a better place to live. Economic development has long been held back by a philosophy that you take care of the primary industry and everything else will take care of itself. It was never true, but that is the way we operate.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CosmicMojo
    thanks. I didn't know if you'd think of it more as northeast or midwest? I never thought about how it is so close to Canada...

    This brings up why I like SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) best--it leads you to theories and targets that fit YOUR community best. Each community will have different strengths, and thus, different approaches. There is not one perfect approach or philosophy. What Baltimore needs is not what Detroit needs, or what Richmond has to offer compared to New York.
    Strengths: A staggering 80 percent of the trade between the United States and Canada Crosses though in either Detroit or Port Huron. This is due partly to geography (connects Canada with industrial heartland, west coast and Mexican Markets), and historical context of industries on both sides of the river working interdependently. Downtown Windsor Ontario is only a few blocks from my office. Essex County, if it could be included as part of the Detroit MPO would add over 500,000 people. We already collaborate more on moving traffic across the border with the MTO, (Transportation Ministry), and the Cities and amalgamated counties that border our crossings. We also share the same geography, an old lake bed. Between the two Cities there are 5 casinos, 4 of which are easliy accessible through Transit Windsor, this makes the area like a mini Las Vegas or Atlantic City, 'cept of course its bitter cold, and there are no beaches. I just hope we get more tatoo parlors and pawn shops as a result of this.

    Weaknesses: Dependance on manufacturing as a primary economic generator. When people buy our stuff it is great. When the market slows, we die.

    Opportunities: Strong international trading ties, better than average universities, historic buildings being converted to lofts, new houses of various types being developed throughout the City. New riverfront walkways and parks, Campus Martius fills-in the empty spots of the central city with a lively interactive space that ties the whole downtown together again, new stadiums compliment downtown's existing convention facilities.

    Threats: Slow downs at the border congest our streets in a pretty quick fashion. Following 9-11 or in the time of the NE Blackout, the freeways and major arterials leading to and from the border were at a standstill.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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