Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Great Creative Class Debate: Revenge of the Squelchers

[Issue 5 - THE NEXT AMERICAN CITY] Along the Amtrak ride north of Baltimore, a 875,000 square foot Rite Aid distribution warehouse has sprouted from cornfields. Some might point to this as a sign of healthy market growth. But considering that $7.1 million in taxpayer money went to help build the warehouse -- and hundreds of millions more may come in the future in the form of new roads and subsidies to transport workers from distant Baltimore neighborhoods -- it sounds a lot more like state-sponsored socialism than the free market. Many of Richard Florida's critics try to marginalize his theory of the creative class as being just about a few kooky artists in Austin. They are wrong. Florida promotes a vision of economic development that returns government to its core functions-building the civic infrastructure necessary to attract and retain people and businesses. As governments take a serious look at his ideas, billions of dollars spent on subsidies of politically-connected industries hang in the balance. Readers of TNAC know that Florida's ideas have encountered serious criticism in these pages, too. But our writers engage in the debate with an understanding that the issues that Florida raises matter. Where those billions go make a big difference for the future of cities. This issue kicks off a three-issue series on "The Great Creative Class Debate." Here, we present a response by Richard Florida to his critics. In coming issues, we will feature Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Martin O'Malley discussing the role of arts institutions in cities and take a look at how cities throughout the country are reacting to the Creative Class Debate. More

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