In the documentary “Roger & Me”, there is much information on the impact of General Motor’s decision to shut down most of its auto factories in Flint, Michigan during 1980s. Actually, this film was written, produced and directed by Michel Moore, a person who was not indifferent to the economic fate of many cities in the US. The degree of controversy that could be found throughout the film is connected with the accusations of “bad practice” or decline of the so-called “company town” in the 1980s. In fact, this sad story has been replicated across 100s of small to large cities in the industrial Northeast over the last 50 years, including Waterbury, CT: Worcester, MA; Allentown, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Detroit, MI; Youngstown, OH; St Louis, MO; etc.
Undoubtedly, there is a question to answer: how to once again restore the vitality of these cities. Richard Florida, a famous American urban studies theorist, is focused on the investigation of the dynamics of the knowledge economy and provides an overview of the economies, examining the growth performance and other important issues. His findings are supported by social and economic theory. According to John Eger, “the new economy’s demand for creativity has manifested itself in the emergence and growth of what author Richard Florida has termed ‘the creative class’”(7). In fact, Richard Florida discusses the core meaning of this term rather broadly. However, he makes attempts to underscore the facts of life and work in the new knowledge economy. He states: “every aspect and every manifestation of creativity-cultural, technological and economic – is inextricably linked” (Florida 76). In general, Richard Florida has developed a concept of the creative class and discussed its implications for urban regeneration in his book The Rise of the Creative Class.
Florida proposes that metropolitan regions, or large cities, with high concentrations of creative social groups, such as technology workers, artists, musicians, lesbians and gay men, and the so-called “high bohemians”, would contribute to a higher level of economic development. Actually, Florida defines these social groups as “the creative class.” Florida believes that the creative class would foster more dynamic urban environment. At the same time, this urban environment could attract more creative people, as well as more businesses and more capital. Florida states that it is necessary to attract and retain talented people and develop such projects as sports stadiums, architecturally iconic buildings, and shopping and leisure centers that would help to restore the vitality of the cities and regenerate the city’s resources for long-term economic prosperity. He writes: “creative class identity runs much deeper than a set of changing affections and affectations; it is rooted in our changed economic circumstances” (Florida 37). Florida has developed his own ranking systems that help to better understand the major aspects of economic development of the cities through rating cities by the creativity index, which involves a Bohemian index, a Gay index, a diversity index, a high-tech index, and some other indexes.
Actually, some other economists state that to improve economic development of the cities, it is very important to pay special attention to “enterprising human capital”(Taylor & Plummer 51). Globalization has an enormous impact on economic changes, reconfiguring the demands for skills and professionalism, providing technological change and transforming interpersonal relationships. The term “enterprising people” means to use the ideas of people in order to turn them into the proper outcomes applying the effective competencies and capabilities. This concept differs from Richard Florida’s theoretic approach that is based on the use of the creative human capital when people with the proper skills and knowledge generate new ideas. Taylor and Plummer suggest that “the transition of new ideas into socially and commercially viable enterprises is a non-trivial process” (51). In other words, this process requires the creation of wealth, income and jobs in order to maintain and improve the well-being of community members. Moreover, this process “involves having the strong grasp of markets and market potentials, sourcing, financing, business planning , accountancy, cost control, timing, coordination and negotiation” (52). These are the limitations of Richard Florida’s ideas.
Undoubtedly, there is some hope for Flint and similar cities to restore their vitality. It is necessary to make the city an enjoyable place accessible to all people. Based on Florida’s findings, the growth of service class can be used to improve the so-called creative economy of the cities. Florida states that today “working class and service class members do engage in creative work” what leads to higher productivity and higher wages (49). Moreover, restoring the cities’ vitality should involve outcome-oriented people who are ready to work in teams and share their knowledge and ideas.
Thus, Richard Florida describes cities as the so-called “big idea labs”, that are focused on the existence and effective work of the creative class. The creative class is used as “a tool to eradicate economic decline” (Verderber 93). If Flint and similar cities will function with the higher velocity of new ideas and the relationships between people will be improved and become closer, the economic development of these cities will be increased. This process requires strong interrelationships between manufacturers, designers, marketers, financial experts and other representatives of creative class who are ready to establish a creative economy.
Eger, John. Globalisation 3.0 – Nurturing Creative Communities. GRIN Verlag, 2011. Print.
Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class. Basic Books, 2011. Print.
Taylor, Michael & Plummer, Paul. “Endogenous regional theory: a geographer’s perspective and interpretation” in Endogenous Regional Development: Perspectives, Measurement and Empirical Investigation, ed. by Robert John Stimson, Roger Stough, Peter Nijkamp. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011. Print.
Verderber, Stephen. Sprawling Cities and Our Endangered Public Health. Routledge, 2012. Print.