Friday, April 20, 2007

"City is among creative" (updated)

Lafayette has been ranked as one of the Top 10 Cities in the South for the Creative Class by Southern Business and Development magazine.
So saith this morning's Advertiser. The phrase refers Richard Florida's book The Rise of the Creative Class. Florida's analysis points to the fact that fast, clean economic growth has been associated in recent years with a welcoming environment for the so-called creative class. The thesis runs something like this: Wealth in the new economy flows from youthful creativity. To an unprecedented degree the information economy means that those most productive people can live where they want. And they want to live in a cool place. They want to live in Austin, not Pittsburgh... So Austin booms and Pittsburgh languishes. The conclusion is obvious: if you and your community want in on some of that new, cool, clean, high wage growth you make sure that you provide the sorts of things those folks want. A great music scene, good food, tolerance, outdoor fun, diversity, a relaxed ambiance, low barriers to outside participation in the economy, night life, cool tech, an open politics....and so on.

It is encapsulated in the words of the subtitle to a Florida essay in the Washington Monthly: "Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race."

(If all that sounds somewhat familiar it'll be because you've been hanging around with economic development nerds...or, more likely, you caught a whiff of the discussion surrounding last year's Richard Florida lecture in the Independent/Iberia Bank Lecture Series.)

That's the category Southern Business and Development thinks Lafayette excels in. It's a good place to be. It's fairly easy to see why Lafayette might have ranked. The cool tech factor would be pretty amazing for a major city much less a smaller, laid-back one like Lafayette. The magazine specifically mentions the Fiber To The Home project that is our focus here--and it has to be a nice feature to think that you could tap into your office net at 1 or 200 meg speeds if you want to work from home this week. There's nothing more laid back than staying home. The food and the music is legendary and if you travel in Zydeco circles you might think tolerance wasn't obviously a problem. Cajun and Creole cultures are a huge draw--and huge reason why our talented are hesitant to leave. There's nothing else in the US like Festival International. Francophone music? Really?! From all over the world? Neat indeed.

Sounds pretty good for the hometown...

Of course the effect is spoiled if you scroll to the bottom of the page and read the irrational—and irrelevant—bigotry in the discussion space spouted by some resentful local fool. Talk about leaving a foul taste in the mouth. And putting a stake right through the heart of any feel-good that you might have been harboring. Jeez.

Update: The Advocate also picks up on good publicity the morning after it appeared in the Advertiser. That version points explicitly to Richard Florida and has the following nice fragment:
In naming Lafayette, the magazine pointed out that while the smallest city on its list, “Lafayette keeps strides with the larger metros with the kind of cultural diversity and forward thinking that sets this creative city and parish apart.”

Lafayette Utilities System’s telecommunications project — which will bring an ultra high-speed fiber-optic network to each home and business in the city — is an example of Lafayette’s risk-taking, the magazine wrote.

“Locals still exhibit proudly a ‘wildcatter mentality’ founded on risk taking and entrepreneurial spirit,” the magazine wrote.

So if you need a URL to send those friends from college that you've been trying to entice down here for years you can send them this one without fearing that they'll have to run into evidence that contradicts the upbeat substance of the report.

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