Urbanist Richard Florida Suggests New Role for Local Governments

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesday's general session featured Richard Florida, the urbanist perhaps best known for his concept of the “creative class,” which posits that metropolitan regions with high concentrations of technology workers, artists, musicians, and other creative groups exhibit a higher level of economic development. Florida explained that though the creative class makes up a relatively small portion of the total workforce, it creates a disproportionate amount of economic growth. For example, the creative class comprises about 30% of the workforce but produces about 75% of disposable income in the U.S. and Canada. This means that the old conceptions of land, labor, and capital are no longer as relevant to economic development. For example, the factory used to be the organizing unit of the economy and before that the farm. Today, metropolitan regions that provide the environment for innovation and creativity are the new organizing unit of the economy. It will be up to finance officers to help their local governments take on and thrive in this new role.