Wednesday, April 10, 2013

THE CREATIVE CLASS OF THE CITY: A NEW STRATEGIC PARADIGM FOR LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

1.1 Introduction
In the past month or two, the issue of the creative class theory by Richard Florida resurfaced. The contention (See Kotkin, 2013) and the counter arguments (See Florida, 2013) rested on the relevance of the creative class theory in the current economic dilemmas of cities. The drive to promote economic development in cities has been raging and several studies have attempted to understand why some cities are declining while others are growing. From mega convention centers, professional sport facilities and Olympic cities, another perspective to promoting urban development emerged early on the 2000s and informed many economic strategies of some urban communities in United States, and even beyond. Richard Florida identifies a theory that suggests that the key to economic development in urban areas is dependent on what he calls the “creative class.” The thrust of this paper is to review this theory in the light of four main objectives: to explore the tenets of the theory; to assess the theory as a new perspective or basis for local economic development, examine the strengths and challenges of the theory, and draw implication for policy and research on urban poverty and local economic development. This is aimed at raising awareness of the theory to inform critical thinking for urban and economic development practice in the new decade.