Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Richard Florida on the Economic Crisis, National Reset

Interesting take by writer and academician Richard Florida on our current economic problems. Florida is best known for his work promoting the important role of the "creative class". He was a guest yesterday on NPR.

Florida is not a fan of the term "depression". He thinks it's too, well, depressing. Instead, he prefers the term "reset", and that's what he thinks our nation is going through now.

According to Florida, the days of long commutes, unsustainable sprawl, and homeownership based economies are fading. Instead, he sees an era of emerging mega-regions, increased emphasis on affordable rental housing, and a concentration of creative talent in fewer select areas.

Florida sees tough times ahead for second tier, rustbelt cities, with most Americans being drawn to mega regions. On the other hand, he offers Pittsburgh as an example of how smaller cities can remain competitive. From a current piece in the Atlantic magazine, Florida writes:

"Finally, we need to be clear that ultimately, we can’t stop the decline of some places, and that we would be foolish to try. Places like Pittsburgh have shown that a city can stay vibrant as it shrinks, by redeveloping its core to attract young professionals and creative types, and by cultivating high-growth services and industries."

One of the points Florida made about the revitalization of Pittsburgh during the NPR interview was the important role of "CDCs - Community Development Corporations". He described the way CDCs work at the neighborhood level to rebuild community.

I wish someone would made it on the air to ask a question about St. Louis. St. Louis also has a major CDC presence. I wonder where Florida would rank a sense of community in the heirarchy of things attracting the creative class? Given his support of CDCs, probably pretty high.

You can read the entire Florida article from The Atlantic here.

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