It seems we’ve been snookered.
Richard Florida of “The Rise of the Creative Class” fame, is now back-pedaling hard on his theory that places could be saved by being more tolerant (coupled with technology and talent). Just focus on the gay geeks and all your troubles will go away was his tune, and DaytonCreate was born, money invested and the process begun.
It’s time to ask for a refund.
Now Richard says places like Austin and Boulder will make it- and places like Dayton won’t. Here are some excerpts from an excellent article from “The American Prospect”
All along, his detractors have been chipping away. Geographer Jamie Peck penned the most exhaustive broadside, Struggling with the Creative Class, in 2005. Conservatives have questioned Florida’s elevation of gay-friendliness as an economic driver and noted that, by some measures, yuppie idylls like San Francisco and Boston have lagged behind unhip, low-tax bastions like Houston and Charlotte, North Carolina. Liberal critics have noted that his creative hubs suffer high inequality, and argued that other cities should develop their own human capital — including that of the low-income minorities who have little place in Florida’s universe — instead of chasing a finite number of laptop professionals.
In a standard version of this critique, Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution — with which Florida was once affiliated — praises him for debunking “smoke-stack chasing” as economic development but says he has replaced that with another flawed “attraction” strategy. “The problem is that he omits a whole group of cities and parts of the country that would never be magnets for talent,” she says. “Most of the places that really need economic development are cities that must grow skills and talent from within.”
…it’s another thing for Florida now to be declaring, from his high-profile perch, that many of these same cities are not part of the country’s strategy for future growth simply because their prospects as creative magnets are too daunting….
“It’s funny that the roots [of his argument] were in Pittsburgh — which is now lauded as the only [city] that believed in itself enough to reinvent itself.”
The idea of an economy based purely on knowledge workers is only relevant if you have a population of people capable of being knowledge workers. This is the part that Florida ignored. What do you do with the elevator attendants in the information age?
And here is the key: The idea of luring business by marketing or with incentives is absolute bunk. Advertising that Dayton is a great place to live and work- doesn’t work unless people believe it. The idea of buying business with incentives is also pointless- since other places have bigger checkbooks- just ask NCR. Until Dayton starts to believe in itself- there will be no reinvention- and the way that happens is from within. We need to attack our own problems of too many fiefdoms, and refocus on delivering first-class living experiences. If you need an example- I point to Kettering with good schools and great athletic and arts programs for its residents. I point to the works of Five Rivers Metroparks and their bike paths, parks and programs.
If you want this city of your dreams- it’s time to start making the best use of what we have here. Richard Florida was never the answer.
Here’s our Dayton Grassroots Daily Show with the “told you so” edition