Friday, October 19, 2007

More Creative Class Hoo-Hah

Richard Florida is a hot topic in Dayton.

He must have impressed some movers and shakers as there is a move afoot to retain his consultancy to do some sort of creative class study of the Dayton economy.

The Dayton Daily News even has two articles on this:

Creative Dayton, Will it Work Here?

Dayton area has ingredients for creative class, says task force group.

There is some transparent spin in the article:

For example, from the articles:

"One of the area's major assets, the task force realized, is its high concentration of a diverse group of colleges and universities, which in 2005 contributed nearly $3 billion to the local economy."

What high concentration? UD and WSU and Sinclair? Or are they counting Central State, Wlberforce, Wittenberg and Cedarville College, too? This is laughable, or transparent boosterism.

Then there are some half-truths:

But another study published in August in the Journal of Economic Geography tested the creative class theory and found that results supported the idea that a creative milieu attracting artists "increases an area's economic dynamism."

...and here is that study: Emoting with their feet: Bohemian attraction to creative mileu.

The study focuses to some extent on rural areas as the authors work with rural/ag economics. The article also considers urban areas. From the conclusion:

Moving beyond the attraction of creative workers, our strong definition of creative milieu is more germane to the policy debate animated by discussion of the creative class. For metro areas, our findings are unsatisfying as they identify a potentially large effect, but one that fails to meet conventional standards of reliability.

Given the point estimate, metro counties in the top decile of creative milieu would generate close to twice the number of new establishments per worker compared to metro counties in the bottom decile. This is confirmed in the sample, where the top decile generated three establishments per hundred workers, on average, compared to 1.6 establishments generated in the bottom decile.
Unfortunately, the standard error associated with the point estimate is large. The prudent conclusion is to suspend judgment on the existence of a strong creative milieu in metro areas.

Personally, I think Florida is correct to some extent, but also that should take care in specific cases as his is a generalized theory. Dayton could well be a special case.

As one can see by the extensive look at the local economy elsewhere on this blog, the Dayton area is doing quite well in things like computer services, engineering, consulting, "information", and, in Greene County, Scientific R&D. The driver for much of this is probably defense spending. This military-oriented mileu, with its security clearances, classified programs, and cultural conservatism, is not what one thinks of when thinks of Richard Florida's emphaisis on "bohemianism".

The Dayton area is already attracting elements of the creative class, but more on the techie/military side, not the arty/bohemian side.


Greg Hunter said...

Jeffery - As usual your data gathering and analysis is spot on! The articles mention a group of people that got together to bring in Florida. I can find no makeup of those on this Creative Class Group, but as usual the people that blog about it, i.e. think; are not included in this debate on the utility of Florida's application for the Dayton area.

Yes the elements for a creative class are resident, but our focus on military applications and the attitudes that appear to go with the industry are not apart of the proper mindset for Florida's ideas to take root in Dayton. WE ARE INTOLERANT or another words ignorant. Florida cannot fix ignorance, but he will take the money.

PS Florida moved to a Creative location (DC) and did not convert his hometown - Pittsburgh. He will have no shot with D(umbass)Town. Am I too negative?

Love your stuff.

Jefferey said...

I think Florida is affliated with a college in Toronto, now. Not in DC, and not in the USA, either.

The makeup and resumes of Floridas consultancy is online at his website, at least the top staff. Locally, the group wanting to bring Florida in seems to be local colleges and the Dayton Development Coaltion.

Anyway. I think this is an interesting subject. One thing to consider is that Florida is measuring or finding correlations in something organic to a community, which might be tough to foster via public policy.

In terms of openess to new ideas I think the people working defense technology stuff here are open, within the R&D context they work in. We wouldnt have such a technologically superior Air Force if this wasn't happening.

The economic development challenge is generating private sector spinoffs and applications based on the technology.

That is where I'd spend the money to do a study. Is that happening and if not why not?

Anonymous said...

As someone who joined the Creative Class task force and who will be contributing financially to work with Richard Florida's group, I'd like to weigh in here.

First of all, the Coalition supports our efforts, but is not an integral part of the process. In other words, they are not driving this bus.

This is also not a typical case of hiring an outside consultant to come to town and tell us what to do. They have a framework and a process that we are interested in, and tons of research data we can access. In other words, we will not have to reinvent the wheel.

There will be 30 "key catalysts" that make up the core team, but those individuals will recruit & work with many, many other Daytonians. Anyone interested will be able to apply for these positions. More on that process will come about as we move forward.

The Creative Class group will not tell us what we need to do, we will determine that through tons of community input. These 30 key catalysts will not be descending from the mount with tablets in hand dictating our direction.

Further, we're not attempting to become Austin, Baltimore, Indianapolis or anyone else. We are trying to determine our strengths & weaknesses and determine our best course of action.

What I love most about Florida's approach is that it is designed to attract TALENT not jobs or companies. In other words, if we have a desirable talent base, then companies will come to us with jobs and without us having to give away the ranch to attract them.

FYI - the group has included people from Five Rivers Metro, CultureWorks, Victoria Theater, Lexus Nexus, Care Source, WYSO, Research Park, various universities and many other organizations.

A lot of thought and consideration has gone into this decision. I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that this is tied to the Military.

More information will be coming soon. This is a real opportunity for us to try a new approach. Traditional methods of economic development have not served us well previously, so I hope you'll give this process a chance and not be what Richard Florida refers to as "squelchers".

Jefferey said...

"A lot of thought and consideration has gone into this decision. I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that this is tied to the Military."

My point is that military R&D may be what is attracting what Florida calls talent to the area, not that the study is tied to the military.

One can see this in census stats on the growh in computers and scientific R&D employement for Greene County. Presumably some of this number are scientists, programmers, and other technical professionals. So a talent pool of sorts is being established.

I'm wondering if this process will be working with the miltiary and the defense contractors, as it might be prudent to do so.

Greg Hunter said...

Squelcher Alert

Greg Hunter will wait ten more years (which we do not have) to "go through the process". It is obvious that Dayton's problem is INTOLERANCE.

"One of his eye-catching measures is the "gay index," where he says the more gay-friendly a city is, the more susceptible it is to economic prosperity because of its open-mindedness.
-Richard Florida"

Just as a test of the Creative Class Group lets pose the question.

How many of the Group's members went to Masquerage?

I think the first mission of the Creative Class Group would be to show up in mass to an existing base of support from which to grow the Creative Class. Did you go?

PS I did not go this year (I have been 3x and it was great!) because it was at the MERC. I am depressed about losing the central heating plant that used to provide steam to the downtown locations including those of the Arcade Complex. We will regret that decision.

Jefferey said...

The Merc, as a venue, was pretty good for me, as it was riffing on Dayton's industrial/gritty side and I'm into industrial archeology a bit. The Fairgrounds, last year, was a bit blah (or the crowd this year was particularly good, or the theme really resonated with the venue)

I think the plant that fed downtown proper was on Longworth, while the Merc fed Webster Station (be interesting to know how DP&L had that district steam system zoned)

Anonymous said...

"How many of the Group's members went to Masquerage?"

Don't know, didn't ask. We were focused on raising the funds for the contract with Florida's group.

The task force is just trying to contract with Florida's group and get the ball rolling. Each of us will go through the same application process anyone else will if they're interested in participating.

It really doesn't matter if members of the task force are gay or straight, involved with the arts or not, what matters is touching base with as many people as possible once the process begins so that everyone is represented at the table.

I cannot stress enough that we're still setting up the process, nothing has started yet. So many of you have ideas to make Dayton better. So when the time is right, I hope you will get involved and be part of the solution.

I'm very excited about this project because it is solution oriented and is very inclusive. Literally thousands of every day people can be involved at some level - if they're willing to make the commitment.

We hope to launch things in January, so stay tuned. Good things are about to happen in Dayton.