Who Knew? Wow!

Is Your City Teaming With Creative Types? How About Your Hospital?

What’s all the hype about creative types? The rise of the creative class has become a very trendy topic in recent years, and unlike many topics that generate buzz, it seems to be an important trend that impacts the economy and quality of life within communities. As an employer of marketing professionals, it is also a huge advantage having a bevy of creatives wandering about. Why is there so much hype about the rise of the creative class? Well, the creative class is a catalyst.  It helps to stimulate the economy and cultivates creative cultural flavors within a community – however you choose to define them.  It leads to more arts and music related activities – and great food. (Or is it that you need the presence of the arts and music scene to attract the creative class? My guess is that it’s a little of both.)

A recent article in The Atlantic Cities titled “America’s Leading Creative Class Metros,” discusses how cities such as Trenton, Huntsville, and Boston rank among the highest for having workforces largely comprised of the creative class. Each of those locations is home to a melting pot of industries and rich cultural offerings.

What may come as a surprise, however, is the city that was named # 1 for having the largest creative class per work force. Do you think you can guess which city it is? Well, If you guessed New York City, you’re wrong. If you guessed Washington D.C., you’re close, but wrong. If you guessed San Jose, you’re even closer, but still off by a bit. The winner, with the highest calculated percentage for creative class per workforce at 48.4% actually goes to Durham, North Carolina – the town I current call home. Surprised? I’m not. According to Durham’s Tourism Bureau, “Durham is a colorful, creative, and entrepreneurial community that continuously earns accolades as one of the best places in the world to visit, live, and do business. With nationally acclaimed restaurants, shopping, historical sites, and myriad other things to do, Durham is the place where great things happen.”

The city is teaming with arts venues and is home to the amazing Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (one of my firm’s pro bono clients). It is no coincidence that beyond my firm’s specialization in healthcare marketing, we also focus on the arts. It is rewarding and liberating work for our creative staff. And it makes them better healthcare marketers! We work with organizations like The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Playmakers Repertory Company, Voices (a regional choral group), FRANK (arts collective), Full Frame, the North Carolina Central University Art Museum, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Kidzu Children’s Museum, and more.

Interestingly, Durham is also known as the “City of Medicine.” Is there synergy between the presence of a strong creative class and a large healthcare community? I sure hope so. I’ve already shown what I believe to be the benefit within my own firm. From a broader perspective, I guarantee that all the press Durham receives about being one of the best places to live and work in the US makes it much easier to recruit physicians and nurses to its hospitals and healthcare facilities. One of my favorite things in Durham in the farmer’s market. It is incredible! At one time, the community surrounding Duke University Medical Center was a liability; today it is becoming an asset. Check out http://www.durhamculture.com and http://www.durham-nc.com.

The author of the article, Richard Florida, states that this finding dispels the belief that geography is destiny in relation to an area’s creative force or potential. For example, another top city on the list was Ann Arbor, which happens to be in the northern Frost Belt. Who’s to say that the cold can’t house the creative? Although I do believe that one reason Durham is doing so well is because of the creatives fleeing the frost belt, looking for a more hospitable climate and perhaps a lower cost of living.

Among other things, Florida also says that “the creative class has become more uneven over the past decade.”

“Back when I did the initial metro rankings using 1999 data, the highest share of the creative class was about 35 percent. Today, it’s pushing 50 percent. There are a dozen metros where it is 40 percent or more, and 34 more where it is 35–40 percent of the workforce. There are 105 metros where the creative class accounts for between 30 and 35 percent of the workforce and 162 where it makes up between 25 and 30 percent of the workforce. On the flip side, there is one metro where the creative class makes up less than 20 percent of the workforce and 48 where it accounts for between 20 and 25 percent.”

To read the article from The Atlantic Cities, click here.

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