Saturday, November 25, 2006

More on the Young and the Restless

The NYT has another story about the fierce competition for young talent that cities like Greensboro are waging:

Mobile but not flighty, fresh but technologically savvy, “the young and restless,” as demographers call them, are at their most desirable age, particularly because their chances of relocating drop precipitously when they turn 35. Cities that do not attract them now will be hurting in a decade.

“It’s a zero-sum game,” said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, noting that one city’s gain can only be another’s loss. “These are rare and desirable people.”

They are people who, demographers say, are likely to choose a location before finding a job. They like downtown living, public transportation and plenty of entertainment options. They view diversity and tolerance as marks of sophistication.

The problem for cities, says Richard Florida, a public policy professor at George Mason University who has written about what he calls “the creative class,” is that those cities that already have a significant share of the young and restless are in the best position to attract more.

“There are a dozen places, at best, that are becoming magnets for these people,” Mr. Florida said.

Then Greensboro had best get busy marketing itself to woo these desirable young people, right? No.

What we’re seeing is the jury of the most skeptical age group in America has looked at Atlanta’s character and likes it,” Sam A. Williams, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, said.

But Mr. Williams acknowledged the difficulty of replicating that phenomenon on purpose.

Had the chamber tried to advertise Atlanta, he said, “we might have screwed it up —because they’re much more trusting of their own network than they are of any marketing campaign.”

“You can’t fake it here,” he said. “You either do it or you don’t.”

Similar sentiments have recently been voiced locally in the comments at Hoggard's blog.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been very interested in towns that the "creative class" has chosen to live in, usually upon graduation. One of the criteria that seems to be ignored by Richard Florida is spirituality.

If one looks at a map of cultural creative centers in NC, the centers are Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Asheville, Wilmington, Winston-Salem, and so forth. While Dr. Florida has been concentrating on homosexuals as his "canary," I might suggest that he study religious or spiritual trends instead---all of the "creative" centers in this state have an active number of practicing Buddhist Meditation Centers. Could areas for spiritual growth actually be the key?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I have been very interested in towns that the "creative class" has chosen to live in, usually upon graduation. One of the criteria that seems to be ignored by Richard Florida is spirituality.

If one looks at a map of cultural creative centers in NC, the centers are Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Asheville, Wilmington, Winston-Salem, and so forth. While Dr. Florida has been concentrating on homosexuals as his "canary," I might suggest that he study religious or spiritual trends instead---all of the "creative" centers in this state have an active number of practicing Buddhist Meditation Centers. Could areas for spiritual growth actually be the key?

9:09 PM

David Wharton said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the correlation between alternate spirituality and the creative class is quite high.

Does this fit in at all with Flordia's "Bohemian Index"?

Nathan Tabor said...

I believe the magic formula for attracting the best talent to North Carolina cities is low taxes and low cost-of-living.

NC must compete with Florida, SC, and Kansas for young talent.

State Senator Fred Smith has discussed the need to lower taxes and reduce NC government spending across the board if the state is to remain competitive. Why would a top-notch engineer move from New York to Raleigh or Charlotte if he's going to be taxed up to his or her neck?

They could give a hoot about how many Buddhists live in a city.

David Wharton said...

According to Richard Flordia, who's studied these people a lot, they care much more about cultural amenities in cities than they do about low taxes.

What kind of engineer are you thinking of? Because most software engineers I know of live in very high-tax areas like Silicon Valley. I'm not aware of any exodus of that talent pool to Tampa or Topeka.

Kansas is losing population, isn't it? I recently visited Atchison, KS, and found it to be rather lovely but forlorn, having trouble keeping any young people around at all.

Low taxes, though

Anonymous said...

oh yeah...those lovely cultural creative centers in SC, KS, and FL---somehow I can almost close my eyes and envision several gay, artistic types sipping sweet tea at Maurice's BBQ in Columbia, SC thanking their lucky stars that managed to save some bucks--

lovely mental image, isn't it.