Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Jun 28th 2010 at 9:30am UTC

The Creative Class in Rural Areas

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is: How can rural areas best cope and thrive in the increasingly spiky creative economy?

New research by economists David McGranahan and Timothy Wojan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Dayton Lambert of the University of Tennessee provides some new and important insights. Their study, entitled “The Rural Growth Trifecta: Outdoor Amenities, Creative Class and Entrepreneurial Context,” published in the July 2010 issue of  the Journal of Economic Geography looks closely at the economic forces that are acting on rural areas and the local assets these areas can use to most effectively respond to these forces and spur development and prosperity. Rural areas can no longer depend on manufacturing branch plants as a source of jobs and growth, but rather can work to bolster local amenities, spur entrepreneurship, and enable the creative class to generate jobs and growth.  Their main conclusion is that amenities matter a lot to rural development.  Here’s the abstract for the study:

Recent work challenges the notion that attracting creative workers to a place is sufficient for generating local economic growth. In this article, we examine the problem of sustaining robust growth in the periphery of the USA, demonstrating the contingent nature of talent as an engine for economic growth. We test the hypothesis that rural growth in the knowledge economy is dependent on the ability to utilize new knowledge, perhaps generated elsewhere, in addressing local economic challenges. Tests confirm that the interaction of entrepreneurial context with the share of the workforce employed in the creative class is strongly associated with growth in the number of new establishments and employment, particularly in those rural counties endowed with attractive outdoor amenities.

The full version is here (PDF).

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