Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A (Creative) Class Act

By Jack Rossi, Chairman, &
Matt Ballard, President/CEO
Charleston Area Alliance

The creative class is a group of people that social scientist Dr. Richard Florida, a professor and head of the Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, believes is a key driving force for economic development of post-industrial cities in the United States.

Florida says two broad categories of workers comprise the "creative class":

• Creative professionals: "Knowledge workers," expanding to include lawyers and physicians.
• Super-creative core: This comprises about 12 percent of all U.S. jobs, and includes a sizeable range of occupations (e.g. architecture, education, computer programming) with arts, design, and media workers making a small subset.

While the work of the Alliance often involves recruiting industries specifically advantageous to our region, such as the chemical, automotive, energy, and printing industries, we are also mindful of the need to diversify our economy and community by developing creative class opportunities in the region. In working toward that goal, the Alliance has accomplished two important projects in the past month.

The first was the recruitment of a new Italian business, "B&W Creative," which announced its arrival in Charleston during an Alliance ArtWalk in late June. B&W Creative is owned by Dario Cardina, with whom the Alliance met on an international trade mission in 2007. B&W Creative is a graphic arts company that can help U.S. businesses develop marketing materials and strategies to support sales in Italy.

Not only does the attraction of this business in itself create jobs and investment and enrich the cultural diversity of our region, but it will also advance another important Alliance goal -- assisting and supporting local businesses that want to export. Over the last decade, U.S. exports have accounted for a significant share of our economic growth. Exports support 12 million American jobs and rising living standards and are vital to our nation’s economy. About one of every five factory jobs -- 20 percent of all jobs in America’s manufacturing sector--depends on exports, and workers in jobs supported by merchandise exports typically receive wages 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce. The Alliance is committed to the continued recruitment of new businesses and jobs to our region while supporting local businesses through the expansion of their business in new markets through export assistance.

The second "creative class" accomplishment was the announcement that our East End Main Street (EEMS) free public wi-fi project is now up and running. This project provides free public wi-fi Internet connectivity along the Washington Street Corridor of the East End of Charleston.
What does this mean? It means the next time you are patronizing Charleston Area Alliance member businesses such as like Tricky Fish, Delish and Blue Grass Kitchen, or walking your dog at the dog park, you can have access to the world through a system of wireless internet provided by EEMS.

It also means that as growing numbers of creative class workers conduct business through "virtual offices," small business owners should experience more foot traffic and business as visitors extend their offices to these public places for meetings with customers, vendors, clients or employees when they know they have access to the internet and can therefore conduct business and presentations. This means more profitability for these small businesses on the East End and a more creative "vibe" in that neighborhood. Through these successes and many more, the Alliance continues to build a more vibrant community and prosperous economy, and drive the destiny of our region.


Post a Comment

<< Home