Creativity is changing the way in which cities approach economic development and formulate policy. Creative metropolises base their economic development strategies, at least partly, on building communities attractive to the creative class worker. While there are countless examples of high-tech regions transforming into creative economies, traditionally industrial cities have received much less attention in this regard.
In a recent article with Monica Megyesi, we study Baltimore to assess the potential of transforming a traditionally industrial region into a creative economy. It analyzes Baltimore’s performance on dimensions of talent, tolerance, technology, and territory both as a stand-alone metropolitan area and in comparison to similar industrial metropolises.
This case study concludes that Baltimore has the opportunity to capitalize on the creative economy because of its openness to diversity, established technology base, appealing territorial amenities, and access to the largest reservoir of creative talent in the USA: Washington, D.C.
While a decade ago it seemed that you can transform an industrial city, today it looks bleaker than ever. Baltimore is a case in point. The rise of the creative class and the international creative class has driven a wedge between the members and nonmembers of the creative class. The evidence is to be found in the rise in inequality in income and wealth.
Without resetting the goal posts to create opportunity, America faces an uncertain future. It appears that without investing in the education and training of the non-creative class, the U.S. is on a long-run decline. How we reform, invest, and deliver educational services remains one of the most daunting challenges for the U.S. in the 21st century.