City brands and the making, management and communication of a city’s strongest assets in the eyes of potential residents, visitors, investors and students, has been a key occupation of economic development professionals all over the world. In this interview, Richard Florida explains why the Creative Classes are so important in achieving city strength and a competitive position.
- How cities can attract or retain creative talent;
- Why creativity is so important for economic development and competitiveness of cities;
- The most significant changes in urban development during the last years;
- Why detailed analysis and research is so important for communities;
- The 3 T’s of economic development: talent, technology, tolerance.
Richard, do you remember what got you interested in urban studies, economic development, and the competitiveness (or lack thereof) of cities?
Yes. It stems directly from my time growing up around Newark, New Jersey (USA). It was a vibrant city when I was young, but I saw it go through wrenching decline. It was the late 1960s and my city was torn apart by riots. I saw also the factory where my dad worked – an eye-glass factory where hundreds of workers made their livelihoods close and shutter. That made a significant impression on me; however, I did not realize it at the time.
I had to find my way to my passion, cities and urbanism. I had found my love for cities early in my sophomore year at Rutgers University. It was an assignment from an amazing professor named Bob Lake who made us visit and explore Lower Manhattan and write up our observations.
My undergraduate studies and experiences were my attempts to make sense of that world of cities and urbanism. But then they were declining. I’m still doing the same thing, trying to make sense of our urban world.