I thought I felt a chill in the air last night

I have to admit that I have both “The Creative Class” and “Who’s Your City” and wasn’t able to get through them. A few chapters in I got all bogged down in the efficacy of Richard Florida’s cause and effect conclusions and had to stop reading.

He was in New Brunswick yesterday preaching his message that we have to support arts and creativity as a driver of economic development.

I, as pointed out here several times, am not convinced that investing in arts and culture will lead to economic development. I am not against funding of the arts and culture but not convinced of the cause and effect.

It seems to me that when I look at the cities that he uses as creative models – Austin, San Francisco, etc. – that they were strong economies first that had surplus income to invest in arts and cultural activities which attracted bohemians which, I will agree, were good for the local community.

But on a broader note, isn’t Florida the poster boy for Rock Star Academic? Reading his stuff, just on the academic rigour side of things, I think many of his traditional peers in Academia must cringe.

I guess I am saying don’t expect Florida to win the Nobel Prize in economics any time soon.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to I thought I felt a chill in the air last night

  1. Rob says:

    I thought the same thing this morning when I read the article in the TJ. It’s a classic chicken and egg problem.

    I could also say that my research shows a large concentration of engineering texts in an office building prevents bears from entering. My office, and many other consulting offices, have plenty of engineering textbooks, and there has never been a bear attack.

    Will the T-J be recommending people rush out to buy Fluid Mechanics and Modern Hydronic Heating?

  2. mikel says:

    Sorry, I have to be critical of the blog because in the past you have touted just the opposite. You have fallen even deeper into the ’cause and effect’ bias than Florida does.

    And that has to do with animation. In fact, anybody who has taken a third year accounting course knows how creative accounting is. If you haven’t finished his book then you can’t state ‘conclusively’ what his recommendations or caveats are (does he in fact restrict ‘creativity’ to museums?)

    Personal and economic creativity was of course SUPPOSED to be the aim of the modern industrial economy. You can go to archive.org and watch those old video films they used to show at the beginnings of movies in the fifties. We were all supposed to have so much free time we wouldn’t know what to do with it.

    But again, go look at FatKat and the enormous amount of ‘creativity’ they churn out. That is what the knowledge industry IS. While I enjoy getting my hands dirty, most of my work is creativity that is done in my head, you as well. My wife does medical research, its almost ALL ‘creativity’-another word for problem solving. Their biggest problem is the educational system-its been very difficult for their company to find people who are truly ‘creative’ thinkers in the scientific field. They find good technicians, good workers, but not good THINKERS who can work independantly.

    And contrary to what you are saying, virtually every international think tank states this as a prerequisite. When its a virtual certainty that international trade lets ‘products’ be made cheaper elsewhere, then education of the population becomes the main priority. That comes from the OECD, which points out Canada’s lagging.

    NB is even further behind, but you can tell even basic literacy isn’t much of a concern for government, because of course they WANT semi skilled workers for the industries that exist there (and the lack of programs aimed at actually solving the problem).

    If you asked him point blank whether a city like miramichi should have ‘invested’ in an animation school, or a museum, we don’t know what he’d say, and even if he said a museum, well, even Nobel Laureate’s say stupid things-in fact in economics sometimes they get the award for the stupidest theories imaginable.

    However, Florida isn’t just talking through his ass. I’ve mentioned numerous times the surveys in the states that show the choice of where a facility locates has OFTEN been decided by the tastes of their management. Executives are not going to move to an area whose cultural emphasis is the local bowling alley. That’s why places like Fredericton have a ‘jazz and blues festival’ when regular performances of jazz OR blues at a concert venue has always had rare attendance (but just take a look at the crowds at the country music festival that operates on half the budget of the Harvest festival).

    Finally, like I pointed out in the previous post, it would take only fifteen ‘fatkats’ to employ more people than worked at the mill, with almost no investment at all. So again, you seem to be restricting his definition of ‘creativity’ more narrowly than he means. While its true that an animator ‘draws what he’s told’, thats not the extent of their work at this company (bigger companies may have more restrictions on creativity for economic efficiency reasons).

    So its pretty hard to argue his case, unless the claim is that his case is restricted to the narrowest sense of local governments subsidizing museums and galleries. His association with the “Atlantica school of Music” shows that that doesn’t sound like the case. Music is the most ‘internationally focused’ industry around, virtually every musician goes FIRST to the international market through the internet. I doubt the Atlantica School is training musicians and telling them “here’s how you make a fortune selling your albums here in St. John”.

  3. Harold Jarche says:

    Since you didn’t read his books, you probably didn’t check his data, which are quite comprehensive. Don’t read what others say about Florida, because they usually get it wrong.

  4. David Campbell says:

    Oops. Sorry, Harold. Not only did I check his data, I actually used his detailed methodology to develop a Bohemian Index for Atl. Canadian cities so I am intimately familiar with his data. I just don’t believe his cause and effect.

  5. mikel says:

    Just to update, you are right that he does seem to push this ‘bohemian index’ thing, but he also mentions ‘film and music’, which are FAR from ‘bohemian’-unless we are talking about busking, and even Bruce Cockburn got his start busking and he then started a whole canadian production industry (with stompin tom-another famous busker). And if he mentions film, he’d surely include animation in there, which makes an easy jump to video game creation, etc.

    And he also mentions science and technology, so I don’t think his ideas can be restricted to “get more buskers and you’ll get more industry”.

    Hell, imagine if NB could produce ONE ‘Rita MacNeil’. Cape Breton has made ‘music’ into a tourist treasure trove and permanent industry. At the Atlantic Music Awards a member of the most prominent NB band openly called NB a ‘ghost province’ or something to that effect. So if ANY province should be listening to Florida, its NB. Hell, Newfies reinvented modern satire and PEI’s tourist economy was based on a book about a pre-pubescent girl! The more I think about it, good lord man, how can you actually ARGUE this mans case? Do you know how much world class attention that woman in bathurst gets with that yearly classical music concert she puts on? I don’t even think there’s been a study of even the tourist effect of that. Even the Northrop Frye festival has been growing by leaps and bounds, or so I’ve heard. I think the ‘chill’ is coming from HERE!

  6. mikel says:

    It would be interesting to see your data, but let’s do some experimentation ourselves. First, let’s ask just how much japanese tourism was headed for Prince Edward Island before Anne of Green Gables was published. The government never spent huge money in Japan promoting it, there are lots of other islands in Canada and around the world.

    Let’s not dwell too much on tourism, we know thats a sore spot. So let’s just ask as far as ‘exports’, how many CD’s came out of Cape Breton BEFORE Rita MacNeil, Ashley MacIsaac, The Rankins, Barra MacNeils, Natalie Macmaster, Men of the Deeps, etc.

    And again, let’s ask how much monetary value there was in Miramichi before that guy started fatkat. That’s pretty ’cause and effect’ which pretty much proves his case.

    Tourism is the big draw, but often other industries follow tourism. Nobody ever heard of Montreaux Switzerland until in the sixties they pushed to get it a mainstay on british bands continental tours. But you do have a point that often CERTAIN cultural emphasis only benefits tourism, which only benefits certain sectors at certain times of the year (Montreaux was idolized in Smoke on the Water, which was recorded nearby in an empty Hotel closed for the winter because of lack of tourism then).

    However, again, that certainly isn’t true of animation, or even music. Music is tough to make a living in, but paying a dollar for a band’s song IS an export, so very logically IF you have enough of those songs going out you can get quite a bit of money coming in, which those people can then invest in other areas (as long as those areas exist).

    So the ’cause and effect’ does seem to be pretty concrete, I don’t see what the difficulty is. However, I’d add that making a car or even making pulp is a pretty creative enterprise, and even large corporations have quite a bit of creativity going on-as that last report on workplace productivity showed.

    So the biggest criticism could be that his definition of ‘creativity’ is to constrained, but he seems to know that. However, at least ‘bohemians’ is something that can be controlled even at a local level. Keep in mind that guys like Stompin Tom, Bruce Cockburn and Ashley MacIsaac weren’t even called ‘bohemians’, they were called more accurately BUMS. All of them spent time in jail for doing nothing worse than singing in public places. This is very frowned upon in our society, and I must say that Fredericton at least has far more ‘entertainment’ in that sense than here in waterloo, its unfortunate that they are treated so shabbily. And I can well imagine why young people in particular would want to get away from such strong arm political societies.

  7. Anonymous says:

    First I’m not a big fan of him either, but at least I know when good research been done, and his study is robust. Plus when did you get your PhD in Bohemian Statistics? You can’t even read. The TJ article states that he’s in the city tonight. I think maybe you’re confused with Elton John, now there’s a bohemian statistic. Come David. Do your homework!!!

  8. richard says:

    Florida, of course, cannot separate cause and effect. From his POV, however, he does not have to. His objective is not to provide a rational basis for funding ‘bohemia’, but is to enrich himself.

    Florida makes his living from selling himself to business schools. These institutions contain indiduals who, yes, may handle large amounts of data but also suffer from the same problem re cause and effect. That does not bother them in the slightest; indeed having to separate cause and effect might result in many of their pet theories and hypotheses collapsing. Better to ignore the problem entirely.

    Thus business schools and their hangers-on are prime targets for Florida. In turn, associating with business schools greatly enhances Florida’s reach and reputation. So it is a mutually-symbiotic relationship.

    I’d say that until they work out how to separate cause and effect, both business schools and Florida should be ignored.

    The Fredericton Jazz and Blues Festival is actually a good illustration of cause and effect. Does Freddy Beach have a successful festival like this because the movers and shakers thought it would enhance the city and attracrt business? Or is it a success because of demographics? Freddy Beach must have a disproportionate population of civil servants and academics; people with more time and money to attend the festival, so I’d say the latter.

  9. Gawain says:

    David, you’re right about Florida’s Rock Star status and it does indeed make for frustration in some quarters of academe, especially since its causal model is so specious. The problem is, however, that this celebrity status has been bestowed on him in part by the media seeking a good story — and it does read like good fiction — and politicians, who are seeking a panacea of any kind.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is difficult to give credibility to his preachings on something as practical as ED when he comes from one of the most unnatural, removed-from-reality environments you can imagine; a university.

    His ideas may be more connected if he were an unemployed forestry worker.

  11. mikel says:

    Actually Richard, you just proved the reverse and thats a good example. Like any festival, during the first few years most people never HEARD of the jazz and blues festival. The first year had 9500 people, last year had 75,000 people. You can also add the Northrop Frye festival in Moncton, FAR more elitist than a jazz festival.

    But thats not the cause and effect that Florida refers to. He is not talking about whether social events are ‘successful’-thats a judgement call. What he is saying is that an emphasis on cultural forms will lead to industry development, and I’ve already pointed out three concrete cases where that has been true.

    I’ll spell it out…the ’cause’ of Rita MacNeil led to the effect of tourism in Big Pond (mainly her tea house). The cause of Anne of green gables led to the effect that asian tourists wanted to visit there. WITHOUT Anne of green gables, no asians would have been so anxious to see PEI. THAT is cause and effect.

    In New Brunswick you can add Le pays de la sanguine, which is inspired by, damn, that french lady writer, I forgot her name. Some may argue that IF it doesn’t make X amount of dollars then its not ‘successful’, but again thats a judgment call. New Zealand got a HUGE boost in tourism and even investment when it was shooting ‘the lord of the rings’. And numerous towns and cities have gotten tourism from having star trek conventions. Vancouver still gets film investment, on the Daily Show a woman starring in “Battle in Seattle” was saying that they shot in Vancouver, and thats even though there is no longer any dollar advantage, they simply went because NOW there are such professional crews there.

    Like I said, other industries are more of a stretch, but animation in Miramichi and film in vancouver pretty much proves the case. Perhaps its unfortunate that he used the word ‘bohemian’ as all the suit wearing white collar guys think he means pot smoking poets in basement bars. Thats THEIR bias though, not his.

  12. richard says:

    “What he is saying is that an emphasis on cultural forms will lead to industry development, and I’ve already pointed out three concrete cases where that has been true. “

    No you haven’t. You need to read Florida. He isn’t saying that attractions like pays de la saguine or jazz and blues festivals attract development; he is saying that creating an atmosphere in an urban setting that attracts the artistic community attracts development. But his data cannot separate cause and effect. i.e he can’t really differentiate growing urban communities that attract artists from growing art colonies that attract urban deveopment.

    And again, that is exactly the same problem that denizens in business schools have, and why no one in his/her right mind would listen to either. A previous poster referred to Florida’s media status. That’s correct and something else he shares with the high-flyers in business schools.

    Your comments about the growth in attendance at various festivals are irrelevant unless you can show that they have attracted non-associated industry to those locations. Have many non-art companies moved to Freddy Beach because of there is an artisitic community there that supports the Jazz and Blues Festival?

  13. mikel says:

    Heck, I forgot some of the biggest examples: Hollywood, Aspen, St. Moritz, Monaco, Seattle.

    If you want a mainstream source, here’s the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond:

    “..research has shown that the Arts have the capacity to serve as an effective engine of economic development… nonprofit arts organizations offer 50 million performances a year, generate 1. 3 million jobs, and contribute $37 billion a year to the national economy. (These figures exclude Broadway and Television)….

    Some communities, such as New Orleans, Louisiana; Seattle, Washington; and the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; have taken a bolder approach by creating arts districts. Arts districts attract business investment, reverse urban decay, revitalize struggling neighborhoods, and attract tourists….

    … Cultural resources are considered an important reason why businesses relocate to new communities, and a presence of strong arts amenities can help recruit employees.”

    That’s a BANK talking, not Richard Florida or an unemployed forester (why they’d know more about economic development beats me). The first examples are communities (like Kings Landing) that were CREATED simply by cultural amenities, in some they are just talking about ‘revitalizing’ but its not like cities in NB don’t exist.

  14. mikel says:

    He doesn't NEED to differentiate between the two. His four books certainly aren't as cut and dried as the above statement. If that was all he was saying, then he wouldn't be talking about investment in R&D. Why would he be?

    IF it was as simple as critics make out, then of course all he'd be doing is going around and telling cities to 'get more gay men'. I highly doubt that even if you COULD test that theory, then a place like Fredericton, which has always had a large gay population (but repressive political structures), is not going to have many business leaders saying "I came here because of the gay factor".

    So absolutely, its a little silly to say that gay men will lead to more urban development, but he doesn't actually SAY that.

    That is 'sort of' kind of true what Richard says, except the part about saying 'non art industries'. He certainly never says if you have lots of gay men in an area then Toyota will come and build a plant. Hollywood is pretty much tied to ONE industry, and nobody would respect an economic theory that said 'because Hollywood has lots of gay men and art then GM and IBM are going to want to set up factories.' Cultural industries lead to cultural development-not blue collar jobs.

    But again, check out my comments from the bank above, or go check out what business leaders are saying, guys like Google and the Web 2.0 people. They are all claiming that there is a shortage of 'creative' people, and THAT is what they are looking for. So if you live in an urban setting that fosters those 'skills', then obviously that is an available labour force that such companies are looking for.

    And it goes back to the point where you build policies that attract the types of businesses you want. New Brunswick's policies, predictably, don't lead to much at all. But awhile ago I posted the article on how Nova Scotia got the RIM investment. They made the right 'pitch', something David thinks is integral,but Lazaridis stated that he knew nothing about Nova Scotia (he's an immigrant) and was impressed with the high concentration of post secondary educational facilities. Though a dropout, education is big on his list, so when he sees those policies, he knows those are the types of people he wants to deal with.

    And again we can go to animation. Fatkat certainly didn't lead to the new Walmart store, and Florida doesn't say that. IF you are that animation company 'from away' that David is always talking about wrangling in, then what type of local labour force would you want? If you are an animation festival then you want people with those interests. That animation 'culture' is being built up, David posted awhile ago about the animation festival which is integral in bringing those people together. But its certainly not like UPM is going to turnaround and say "wait a minute, they have an animation festival now….they have gay men…what were we thinking…start up that mill!"

    Knowledge industries will naturally gravitate to these creative places, the business leaders are already SAYING that. Google may not set up a shop in Fredericton because they have a jazz festival, but it doesn't hurt-its part of the mix. The subsidies also probably have to be there, the tax breaks, the labour force, etc. But if a city can prove its got the goods, then companies will look that way.

    This isn't to say that Florida is a genius or god, but to be fair, he's been saying it awhile and he's turning out more prescient than most of his critics-who were bullish on the housing market.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Mikel- Maybe you should re-read Florida. A point he stresses is creativity, competitive advantage and therefore economic prosperity comes from those hands-on in factories (and forests) i.e. not just the CEOs, MBAs, engineers and academics.

    BTW, he specically points out that arts and culture in itself is not an economic driver; it is part of the ingredients of a modern community that attracts and satisfies the creative class.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have to admit it. This is the very first time that I agree 100% with Mikel!

    I think that we need to separate Richard Florida, the rock star, from the concept that he presented in his first two books. What we see today is a guy who got blinded by the repercussions of his first books and is just milking every drop of his early success and casting doubt on a concept that makes total sense.

    I really don’t want to sound condescending but, to those who argue so much against the creative class concept, I recommend that PLEASE do travel with an open mind (staying in a resort doesn’t count at all!), try to live in a successful city for at least six months (also with an open mind!), and then think again about the concept. By the way, David, it would be very interesting to find out how many of the young NBers that you mentioned in your TJ column end up living in NB after volunteering abroad.

    And if you are still not convinced, here is the acid test. It is the first week of December (it could be January, February or March, but I am being kind) and you are looking for something to do with your wife in Fredericton, Moncton or Saint John. What are the options? (1) The movies? No, thanks, there hasn’t been a good movie in the NB or PEI theatres since “The Boleyn Girl” (and perhaps “Michael Clayton”?). (2) A music show? Ops, sorry, we don’t have any venues to host a show after summer is over (well, I will concede that the Playhouse in Fredericton has some good stuff every once in a while, but you gotta be lucky and in the mood). (3) To the theatre? Idem (4) For a walk? Where? The trails became useless after the first rain of the fall (5) OK, then let’s go out for dinner. Where??? I have been eating the same food in the same half a dozen so-so restaurants for the last four years!

    And if you are “lucky” enough to be in PEI, rural NB, or out of Halifax, you don’t even get the chance to get a coffee on Sundays in a place other Tim Hortons! Are these places where creative people would like to live? I don’t think so. I am sorry to say this Harold but, even if Richard Florida said last year that Sackville is a place that the creative class loves, I say no, thanks.

    Atlantic Canadians are wonderful and very welcoming people, but I just couldn’t live there for more than four years. My wife and I got tired of the lack of cultural and leisure options so we decided to move back to Central Canada.

    David, I will leave you with one thought. If I am the manager of a knowledge-intensive foreign company looking for a new location to expand its operations, one of the first key factors that I will consider is if I will be able to convince my people to move to the new place. And if you still have doubts, here go two examples that come to mind right away: how many people from the NB Department of Energy moved from Fredericton to Saint John? Why??? And why was so hard for the Health Authority in Saint John to find a VP Research?

  17. David Campbell says:

    I can’t respond to everyone but it looks like this is a hot button issue.

    Let me just say a few things. 1. I think fostering a dynamic arts and cultural environment is important particularly for the reasons stated by Anonymous at 3:27 AM. It makes NB more enticing to people thinking about moving here. My original premise was related to the cause and effect of arts and cultural spending – not on the merits of it.

    Finally, my fear on this has also been that we would divert some of the already limited funding and effort used to stimulate real business investment in the community into arts venues and then cross our collective fingers.

  18. mikel says:

    The topic is getting too huge to handle in one blog posting. Lots of interesting comments, but not relevant. Are we talking about arts in NB, elitism, a critical analysis of Florida’s texts, an appraisal of his ‘status’. Those are all different topics.

    Again, the ‘few resources’ are the fault of provincial policies, so IF some arts group can get a few meagre dollars, I say more power to them. That’s again like NBT complaining because a Yarn Factory got some money that ended up going to workers, while ignoring that Irving got a tax break that saves them millions in their pocket. In a FUNCTIONAL democracy of course we’d be correcting the problem of ‘few resources’ before being cheap on anybody who needs some.

    Forget restaurants, that can’t be done provincially anyway. A municipal government can ‘be creative’ mostly by laxing up regulations. Most ethnic restaurants started life as a cart or home bakery. In Vietnam entire subdivisions are homes that are shops on the main floor and living quarters in back and streets are lined with ‘product’. In NB, I remember a woman trying to do some baking to sell and she had to build an entire second kitchen because of regulations. It didn’t matter how clean she kept it, as long as it was separate.

    We have tons of every kind of restaurant, but it wasn’t from policy decisions, it was from the ethnic population and student base. They are always hit and miss. Tastes aren’t always ‘class based’, but are often ‘age based’. To try and get somebody over 50 into a Viet Thai restaurant is a tough thing to do. And there is a culture of ‘experimentation’ that comes from a university population.

    You can perhaps at LEAST let restaurants eligible for the same funding that is available to others. While at university I helped people fill out ACOA applications and there is simply NO money for ‘service industries’ PERIOD (that MAY have changed). But money is still generally tied to product. That’s VERY unfair, here’s an example. An Indian restaurant opened near us, won an award for its ‘heart healthy mulagatawny soup’. So they started not just serving it in the restaurant, but having a cooler so people could buy it in a jar. Then local specialty stores picked it up, and now the major grocery chains carry it. Food is a very important export that is usually ignored. I can remember our local food specialty store used to carry blueberry syrop from some hick town in the backwoods of NB. I know its not an auto plant, but more is always better.

    It’s also a bit unfair to talk about “thatuh” for the upper classes as a means of economic development. Unlike the above poster states, in economic development (particularly David’s emphasis), then its executives you are talking about. In fact, from anon’s post above, thats almost a reason why David should be SUPPORTING the kind of spending he doesn’t support. I hate to be critical, but its almost like David sometimes wants the whole but doesn’t want to invest to get it.

    But ‘stuff for executives to do’ is only part of it. Why Florida’s work is so important is because he calls it a ‘creative CLASS’. In other words, there are certain attributes that are common and should be fostered and maintained. That ‘homosexuality’ is one of them is sort of silly, what I’d add as a caveat is a local ACCEPTANCE of homosexual says a lot about tolereance and inclusivity in an area-which is a good advertisement for companies.

    That leaves out Fredericton’s bigoted Mayor, and the ‘scene’ remains largely underground but well known (at school I took a book down to read on the green and was tried to be picked up three times before somebody told me that after seven along the green is the main pick up place-so always bring a friend!).

    In forestry, to be creative you can look at private woodlot owners and McAdam and the emphasis on ‘community foresting’. That lets local communities ‘get creatives, whereas now they are pawns of whatever the province and leaseholders want.

    Unfortunately, the main barrier here is the government, and having so many people out and out chuck out his theories doesn’t help. It maintains the status quo, which is the LAST thing NB needs. The government doesn’t do much, and if they see there is no reason to do much then they will happily comply. I certainly hope at least the critics here aren’t the same ones saying that “we have to build an oil refinery because at least its SOMETHING”. There are LOTS of OTHER somethings out there, but policies have to be enacted and changes have to be made to get them.

  19. richard says:

    “That’s a BANK talking, not Richard Florida “

    Again, Mikel, you and some other posters are confusing the issue. The issue is not whether theme parks, festivals, etc are economic drivers. The issue is whether having a vibrant arts environment is a cause of economic development (in that it causes significant non-art urban economic development to occur)or whether having a vibrant economic climate in an urban setting leads to a vibrant arts community. Florida claims the former, but he cannot separate cause and effect.

    I am not sure why, in this partucular instance, you think a statement from a BANK is meaningful.

  20. richard says:

    “My wife and I got tired of the lack of cultural and leisure options so we decided to move back to Central Canada. “

    The issue then is why there are more cultural and leisure options in Central Canada. Well, for one thing, there are a lot more people there; more demand for various options. Any large urban area will offer more such options than a small urban centre.

    As to why people don’t move to SJ: Well, I know that some provincial depts in Fton have trouble keeping SJers in Fton. Why? No idea. Can you provide any data to back up your belief that differences in the arts communities between SJ and Fton are responsible for the difficulties you describe? Could just as well be the climate; some of us are adverse to fog.

  21. mikel says:

    I quoted a bank because they are certainly less likely to parrot any journalistic or political line (maybe an ideological one though). But its all right there.

    What Richard seems to be saying is that cultural investment does not lead to urban development OUTSIDE the cultural sphere. That is true, that is something VERY difficult to prove. However, I can prove that from a story I mentioned long ago, that IBM set up in rural Vermont because of its proximity to the skiing. The chairman’s son who would be heading the division was an avid skier and said that was why it was chosen. Sorry, I no longer have the links for it, but Richard is essentially saying that a scenario like this is IMPOSSIBLE. That a ’cause’ like having good skiing can’t be linked to an ‘effect’ of IBM setting up a plant.

    But again, scenario’s like that play out over and over again, in the states its stated frequently in business journals, because executives have so much power. In fact, most companies outrightly SAY that, we tend to be cynics and attribute it to subsidies, but we don’t KNOW either way except from their statements.

    So quite obviously we CAN make a cause and effect case. Perhaps good skiing is not considered ‘cultural’ or ‘creative’. That’s fair, but can you honestly state that if a company builds a manufacturing plant because the executive likes the skiing then they wouldn’t make the same decision based on, say, the creativity of the local marketplace?

    The investment died, but remember about a year ago there was a game manufacturer from BC who was going to set up manufacturing in a rural area of Nova Scotia for the simple reason that he had spent time there before and really liked the people. Likewise, RIM’s focus on university towns is the same. University’s, some in particular, are the highest concentrations of creative people anywhere. RIM could probably have gotten similar deals on subsidies in any other province of canada-he liked Nova Scotia because of its emphasis on university education.

    Again, thats a clear cause and effect, you really can’t FIND more clearer cause and effect except maybe in the natural sciences-and even there they are often misunderstood.

    It’s true that the poster above is getting mixed up in the ‘cart before the horse’ theory. But again, I’ve posted example after example of cause and effect, from PEI to Cape Breton, which has NOTHING to do with an arts community setting up shop in an economically advanced area. PEI didn’t get aerospace technology and then discover some old book written by a woman and start a festival around it. PEI always got tourism, but nowhere near the level now, and certainly not from asia.

    Likewise Cape Breton didn’t have a built up economy which then just naturally attracted singers. THose singers are FROM there. Again, Rita MacNeil was produced and supported by Stompin Tom’s company, and she got Arts grants from various institutions in the country. Now she single handedly brings TONS (relatively) of money into a hick town called Big Pond.

    So honestly, either some people here simply have no idea what cause and effect actually means, or else there is serious propaganda going on here. Nobody has disputed ANY of these examples or shown how they are not cause and effect.

    You could argue that Cape Bretoners are ‘creative’ in music and yet it hasn’t built a solid economy for Cape Breton. That’s a fair statement, but Florida, and nobody in their right mind, would say that a vibrant urban development will come to any place that has a few singers or gay men. It has to have a CLASS, and that class has to be diverse, and it has to be built up over time. Cape Breton NOW is far more economically diverse than probably ANY time in its past.

    The other comments about arts communities are cultural criticisms, but as Richard points out, that doesn’t have anything to do with the stated argument-except unless we FIND one of those people who state they go to one region or another based on X. So the argument seems to be “we haven’t asked the questions, so we don’t have the evidence, therefore the theory can’t be accurate”. Again, that’s the black swan theory of science, where you state there are no black swans because you’ve never seen one…but you just haven’t SEEN it.

    So to make it even clearer, we don’t know what the anon poster above does for a living. But lets say that he owned a business. If he owned a business and packed up and took his employees with him that would be pretty concrete proof of Florida’s theory.

    Here’s another quick anecdote. I think the movie “Strange Brew” was hilarious even though a stereotype, and was surprised to see a guy like Max Von Sydow playing the bad guy. Some years ago I remember reading an interview where he said that the whole reason he took the job was because his kid was a huge bob and doug fan.

    Now, say some animation company owner of a french animation company wanted to invest and get a partner in Canada. He asks his staff for ideas, and some are big fans of happy tree friends, or that other animation show about the unemployed guy. So they call up miramichi and the rest is history. In fact CLOSE to that is how fatkat and other business deals are made. Like I said, you don’t GET any more cause and effect. If that animation college weren’t in miramichi, then whatsisname wouldn’t be there with fatkat and those 100 people would be somewhere else. Miramichi itself wouldn’t be gone, however, a pretty big aspect of it would be. And like the pulp mill, all it needs is MORE of that ‘creativity’ to prove the point. It doesn’t NEED the creative aspect, it could be, well…Campbellton. You tell me which place you’d pick to live in.

  22. richard says:

    "That is true, that is something VERY difficult to prove. "

    But the basis for Florida's book is just that. As he cannot separate cause form effect, he is, in effect, left with anecdotes. Anecdotes are a poor basis for governmental policies.

    Immigrants, knowledge-industry workers, and artists tend to go where there is more opportunity. TO has a large population; this inherently provides more opportunity and lifestyle options than NB. An urban population in an economically vibrant area is even more attractive.

    In order to increase opportunity in NB, you could increase NB's attractiveness in various ways. Lower energy costs, educated workforce, tax policies, lifestyle improvements, R&D investments, etc are all options but nothing by itself will work miracles.

    "If he owned a business and packed up and took his employees with him that would be pretty concrete proof of Florida's theory. "

    Absolutely not. You would have to know why the company moved, not why he said it moved.

    One final point. If 'brevity is the soul of wit', then a corollary would be: the length of a comment is not directly proportional to its value.

  23. mikel says:

    Again, let's look at his actual theory:

    "metropolitan regions with high concentrations of high-tech workers, artists, musicians, lesbians and gay men…CORRELATE with a higher level of economic development. (correlation is not the same as causation-although I proved causation)"

    So far he's in complete agreement with Richard (sort of), but keep in mind that this definition of 'metropolitan' leaves out most NB cities.

    "the creative class fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment. This environment, in turn, attracts more creative people, as well as businesses and capital."

    Again, same as what Richard says.

    "He suggests that attracting and retaining high-quality talent, versus a singular focus on infrastructure projects would be a better primary use of a city's regeneration resources for long-term prosperity."

    Thats it in a nutshell. Nothing about cause and effect. Only that if you want economic development, look at people first, and not shopping malls.

    We aren't talking about building a city out in the woods in the middle of nowhere and wondering what policies to enact. In fact it agrees with Richard in one aspect, and thats about the work force. Virtually no government policies aim toward a 'creative' workforce, which is why this theory is important. Actually two, because Richard mentions R&D, which was the main emphasis on his talk. R&D IS the 'knowledge sector' essentially (public servants in Fredericton most certainly are not, in fact much of the university's payroll can't even be counted in there).

    "Lifestyle improvements" are debateable, as Florida discounts shopping malls and infrastructure, but thats not necessarily lifestyle improvements. Miramichi might have a new Wal Mart, but that doesn't mean they are 'better off'. In a choice between a Wal Mart worker and a fatkat worker I think any ED would choose the latter.

    However, tax policies and energy costs are a different matter. But as we've seen, the knowledge sector doesn't often require large scale energy needs. So the aim of low energy costs is outdated for the knowledge industry. But Florida certainly never states to ignore other factors of economic development.

    As for the above, the poster above SAID why he's leaving, there is no question as to why the business left. A CEO or owner can leave or go for any reason.

  24. Anonymous says:

    “The issue then is why there are more cultural and leisure options in Central Canada. Well, for one thing, there are a lot more people there; more demand for various options. Any large urban area will offer more such options than a small urban centre.”

    Richard, that’s a very simplistic way of looking at things. You should be asking why Atlantic Canada has only one city (Halifax). The answer is: because of politics. Everybody is so busy trying to keep things the way they are that they stop thinking about what needs to be done.

    As for the proof that you are asking, just go to the website of the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity and you will find plenty.

    I said several times in this blog that the problem of the region is that it is too rural and people want to keep it that way. What everybody else in the rest of Canada is saying is: sorry, not with my money!