Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The Presence of a Creative Class does not a Growing City make.

The push for cool cities hosting a creative class is all en vogue these days. Michigan's Governor Granholm is heavily pushing the idea of turining Michigan Cities into cool places where people want to live...by fiat of committees and central planning no doubt.

However, a critique of the theory that the creative class that is drawn to cool cities helps create a region rich in small business and young professionals is, as pointed out by the Volokh Conspiracy, an article by Steven Malanga entitled The Curse of the Creative Class. The Creative Class and the Michigan Cool Cities initiative seem to have their origin in Robert Florida's "The Rise of the Creative Class", and Malanga's critique points out, among other flaws in the argument that .

Jobs data going back 20 years, to 1983, show that Florida’s top ten cities as a group actually do worse, lagging behind the national economy by several percentage points, while his so-called least creative cities continue to look like jobs powerhouses, expanding 60 percent faster than his most creative cities during that same period.

I certainly hope Michigan doesn't pin its hopes for a statewide urban renaissance on a nice, but flawed theory that puts increased government spending for "cool culture" at the forefront.

Let's fix the core infrastructure here in Michigan first. After all, if you build a habitable city with decent roads (Michigan's are the 5th worst in the nation), good powerlines and other attributes of civilization, along with a business and employment friendly environment, the creative class will come. They won't just move here if there are no decent jobs awaiting them, regardless of whether the land is overflowing with culture or not.

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