Sunday, August 29, 2004

Linking creativity, diversity and economic dynamism

Quotes from Richard Florida
Author of The Rise of the Creative Class

'The great urbanist Jane Jacobs has a word for this kind of person. What distinguishes thriving cities from those that stagnate and decline is a group of people she calls the 'squelchers.' Squelchers, she explains, are those political, business, and civic leaders that divert human creative energy by posing roadblocks and saying 'no' to new ideas. What worries me is that, even when they are wrong on the facts, my critics continue to provide ample ammunition for squelchers.'

'My book is no paean for more government spending. It unequivocally states that large, top-down government development projects, like stadium-building efforts and massive downtown revitalization plans, are a major part of the problem. Like Jane Jacobs, I argue that real economic development is people-oriented, organic, and community-based. In the preface to the paperback edition of The Rise of the Creative Class, I write, "While certain initiatives may help to encourage [creativity's] emergence and others will certainly squelch it, the development of environments cannot be planned from above.'

'Much has been made of the fact that such 1990s growth centers are losing population. But the simple fact that people are leaving misses a much bigger point.
Using IRS data to compare who's moving out to who's moving in, the statistician Robert Cushing has found that these regions are losing low-income people but gaining high-income people. He found, for example, that families moving from Austin, a high-tech boomtown, to slower-growth Kansas City in the 1990s earned an average of $25,912 a year. Those going in the other direction, from Kansas City to Austin, earned over $65,000. It makes sense that these regions would gain higher-skill, higher-income people as their economies develop, their occupational structures shift toward high-value-added employment, and their housing prices rise. As this cycle occurs, higher-skill, higher-wage people move in and lower-skill, lower-wage people move out. While it may not be fair or even good, these regions continue to gain competitive advantage as a result.'

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