Published March 15, 2011

TWISler Update: Rise of the Creatives

Just so you know, the TWISler takes comfort in the baseless assumption that those last 14 citizens who pulled the voting lever for Paul Carigiulo in last week’s city commission election did so from legitimate fear of The Terminator’s wrath, but it’s probably just healthier to admit that we failed to motivate the vast majority of city registrants (82% of them) to express theirs concerns with the ballot punch.

Alas, we have two brand new bouncing baby commissioners, and a third expected in May. And they are gonna be deciding which direction to go at some critical forks in the road. Sarasota has long had an economic game plan aimed at importing and accommodating tourists and retirees. But now with the Creative Class itch people have started scratching, the city is realizing that maybe a more internally focused workforce development approach that seeks to import and accommodate innovative young entrepreneurs might work better to diversify and expand the local economy.

We here in TWISville are big fans of the latter method, which fits in with what we call our “Creative Class Agenda.” The Creative Class is a concept concocted by economist, social scientist and deceptively named Canadian Richard Florida, who uses the term to describe a socioeconomic class of about 40 million workers — 30 percent of the U.S. workforce — that have become the key driving force of economic development for U.S. cities in the post-industrial era. A wide range of occupations including science, engineering, education, tech, arts, music, entertainment, design, media, architecture, healthcare, business, finance and law all employ “creatives,” as long as they’re serving an economic function to create new and innovative ideas, technology and content.

Another nasty habit of the creative class that we TWIS folk know well, due to us all being card-carrying members, is our non-traditional work attire and ways of doing bidness. We don’t punch time clocks, we don’t dress to impress (at least during normal work hours), and our office is our laptop and smart phone. That’s how we roll…. Anywhere we want. And it might be smart to try to get as many of us entrenched here as possible, because if our pretty little beach ever gets graced with a complimentary slick courtesy of Asshole Oil Inc. and all the spring breakers and ridiculously rich retirees decide to abandon ship, we’ll still be here making your economy grow — with or without the bikini contests.

Good ol’ Richard Florida also tells us that in order for cities to attract these elusive “creatives” they must possess “the three ‘T’s”: Talent, Technology and Tolerance. Unfortunately, this isn’t a Meatloaf video, and two out of three ain’t gonna cut it. We have tons of talent and tech, but we need a serious makeover in the tolerance department. That’s why you can count on the TWISler taking up these issues with our two new city commissioners, as well as the two District 1 candidates duking it out in the May runoff.

Many issues, such as noise regulations, the recently approved way-finding system and the Rosemary Park proposal, represent clear divisions between the tourist/retiree-promoting agenda and the creative class-promoting agenda. It vill be vedy, vedy interestinck to see whose side zey choose…

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