The creative class, Richard Florida, cooltowns and Joe Namath

Some people have been wondering how the creative class relates to cooltowns and to Richard Florida, who coined the term, creative class.

True story: Back in 1999 while on a business trip to Pittsburgh, one of my contacts suggested I just had to go see a Carnegie Mellon economist professor named Richard Florida because we were speaking the proverbial ‘same language’. I literally dragged my business associate with me who happened to have a history of working in sports agencies, including the agency that represented Joe Namath that for better or worse catalyzed the ‘athlete as superstar’ phenomenon.

Well, long story short, my associate thought Richard could mainstream popularize progressive cities the way Namath did it for football – an ‘economist professor as superstar’ if you will. I might add, that’s not a typical observance in the slightest. He told him he needed to write a mainstream popular book and promptly introduced him to his current literary agent today, Susan Schulman, A Literary Agency (highly recommended I might add). Flattered, and with no fear of the limelight whatsoever, Richard asked, “So what should I call the book?” I suggested, “The New American Dream”, which was under consideration until a much better, targeted title was chosen and the resulting book was finally published over two long years later, The Rise of the Creative Class.

Today, Richard Florida, in many ways, is arguably the spokesperson for progressive, creative cities. His research team provides the economic evidence for why the creative class does indeed equate to economic prosperity. What CoolTown is and has always been about, is the implementation of the places – on the neighborhood, building or business scale – that attracts the creative class. We complement each other perfectly.

What we can help you with is in answering a vital question, “Who are the Joe Namaths in your city?” More on that tomorrow…

  • Too bad it wasn’t you, Neil. Florida was getting $36,000 per speaking event back in 2003. He was booked solid for months too. Not to say I didn’t enjoy his speech–it was very good. Still haven’t read the book yet…

  • I’m thrilled he’s on the international speaking circuit, it’s not my role, nor something I enjoy doing. His success does make my job a lot easier though, which is crowdsourcing cool places for creatives. Love it!

  • Sandy

    Neil, I think Cooltown is more than just “implementation of places”. You’ve transcended the silo effect of urban planning, per se, and have recognized the critical component- people. Places are just places. It’s the systems and networks of people along with the built environment which make a cool town cool. You are far more evolved.