Throughout the twentieth century, numerous commentators, pundits, and scholars have proffered numerous strategies for maintaining the vitality and economic growth of urban areas. Some of the more traditional forms of economic development have included the construction of sports facilities, festival marketplaces, and new buildings for established cultural institutions, such as art museums and opera houses. While many cities continue with these familiar policy initiatives (despite evidence that these strategies may be somewhat ineffective), other cities are working on attracting (and retaining) members of the creative class. This idea is derived from the work of Richard Florida, a professor of planning at Carnegie-Mellon University, who has suggested in his recent work that cities should concentrate more on attracting young persons who work in the numerous vocations that constitute this creative class, which includes visual artists, software developers, and writers. Most recently, this idea has proved to be of great interest to mid-sized cities in the US (and abroad), including places such as Cincinnati, Memphis, and Milwaukee.
The first link will take visitors to a recent USA Today news piece that discusses the various efforts made by medium-sized cities around the United States to attract and retrain these members of the creative class. The second link leads to a story from the Washington Times about the efforts made by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan to create a Cool Cities initiative that will also keep young people from moving out of the state for more attractive locales. The third link leads to the Creative Class Web page, where visitors can read about Florida's work, view maps and lists of those areas that (currently) best foster the creative class milieu, and read about Florida's creative class colleagues. The fourth link leads to an interview conducted with Florida last year on Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning show by Katherine Lanpher. In the interview, Florida offers a brief overview of his inspiration for the book, and responds to a number of engaging questions and comments by listeners. The fifth link leads to the Memphis Manifesto, a document produced by a group of concerned persons in and around the Memphis area who would like Memphis to increase its ability to attract young, talented people. The final Web site leads to a list of the 50 most creative cities in the UK, created by utilizing a modified version of Florida's criteria, and generated by the DEMOS group, an independent think-tank. Not surprisingly, cities such as Manchester and London are ranked quite high, while cities such as Milton Keynes (in the south of England) fall towards the bottom of these rankings.