Our town has accomplished a number of economic development gains in recent years including Zachry Corp, Tractor Supply, L&M Diagnostics, Masonicare in Mystic, and more. It is important to continue to look and innovative approaches and embrace the Creative Economy. That opportunity is human ingenuity, and it is what drives the Creative Economy. Human ingenuity is mobile; it seeks a high quality of life, and the Town of Stonington with its natural beauty, modern day blend of history and sense of community the potential of sustaining and attracting those opportunities.
A leading scholar on the issue of community vitality, Richard Florida wrote The Rise of the Creative Class. In his book he focuses on diversity and creativity as basic drivers of innovation and regional growth. He states,”In the post-modern world, the ability to create and innovate gives a person the ability to control his or her destiny. Places that succeed in attracting and retaining creative class people prosper; those that fail don’t.” The creative economy is a powerful and positive economic force. Together, artists, cultural nonprofits, and creative businesses produce and distribute cultural goods and services that impact the economy by generating jobs, revenue, and quality of life. Empowering people and organizations to create their own jobs by tapping into their thinking power can be accomplished through a toolbox of methods, work practices, culture and infrastructure. I have had continued discussions with various creative economy entities and look forward to creating the infrastructure for this approach.
The first approach is to prepare to “set the table” for this creative growth. Technology is significant and I am working with local technology providers to encourage high speed interconnectivity for the town. This connectivity is essential for our downtown areas to flourish. Along with that, Wi-Fi Hot Spots would be an asset to community locations in downtowns.
Along with the technology there needs to be location availability. The second approach is to make available some “start-up” workspace for new entities to thrive. The growth of Co-op Workspaces and Business Incubation is here. I have visited several sites and look to continue the research in the are, as we look to join the growth of these locales.
One result of these approaches includes hybrid, innovative and unique low impact commerce emerging in the area. According to U.S. Small Business Administration statistics, over half of all small businesses begun in the last decade have been home-based. The embracement and fostering of home-based & virtual businesses provides an opportunity for jobs, increased acquisition of residential properties, and low impact commerce to the community. Similar areas like Massachusetts Pioneer Valley have embraced this approach with success. The ability to attract, encourages, and provide legal & tax options is critical.
All of these concepts and approaches encourage a more sustaining and resilient Creative Economy. Such an economy includes creative industries to include without limitation the many interlocking industry sectors that center on providing creative services such as advertising, architecture or creating and promoting intellectual property products such as arts, film, computer games, multimedia, or design. By focusing on enhancing the creative assets our region possesses, we can become a stronger community that gives voice to the innovators who are designing tomorrow’s solutions for business, government, education and the like. These are workers who create new ideas, new technology and/or new creative content. They have “considerably more autonomy and flexibility” than those who “are primarily paid to execute according to plan.”
The future of our town — its economy, its living patterns, and its priorities — is in our hands, challenging the old assumptions. We need to spur economic vitality and vibrancy within the Stonington area through creative thinking and community initiatives. It is a foundation of our local economy that thrives upon innovation and ingenuity.
Sources: New England Foundation for the Arts, Boston, MA ; http://www.nefa.org Retrieved 07/14/14
Florida, Richard; 2005,”Rise of the Creative Class; New York : Harper Business,
Karl R. LaPan; “Our community can be a creative destination”, March 12, 2003;
CreativeFortWayne.net Retrieved 07/14/14
http://www.creativeclass.com, Retrieved 07/14/14
Koy, Peter; (2000 August 28) Business Week Online; The Creative Economy;
Mass.gov; Creative Industries; Retrieved 07/14/14
Worley,Matthew; “The Growth of Home Based Businesses” www. Cooperator.com