Rural Matters

Redwood Valley

July 23, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

From the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship: Regional Technology Strategies and its partner in the Alliance for Creative Advantage, Mt. Auburn Associates, has recently completed a series of reports in Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming and North Carolina that show how creativity and creative enterprises help rural regions develop their economies more effectively.

By the creative economy, RTS strays from the pop-economic notion of the “creative class” that too often sees metropolitan areas, with their high concentration of people with advanced degrees, as the only places where creativity is taking place.  Applying the creative economy to a class of workers rather than to an actual set of industries misses a crucial component of economic development. Rather, we define “creativity” to a select group of businesses that produce and distribute goods and services and for which the aesthetic, intellectual and emotional engagement of the consumer adds value to products in the marketplace. This can range to traditional arts and crafts made by residents to high-end manufactured products that depend on design for their appeal.  In particular, we see the creative economy being made up of:
•    Individual artists who are the talent and source of creativity
•    Non-profit cultural institutions and commercial businesses that take the original ideas of these artists

and produce creative goods and services
•    The businesses and institutions that bring the creative products to the marketplace
•    The institutions and commercial businesses that depend on creative talent to survive and prosper
•    The support system that nurtures and sustains the creative economy

When and where these elements are in place, you have all the hallmarks of an industrial cluster-but instead of producing automobiles or pharmaceuticals, your region is engaging in creativity, with often exciting results. In Mendocino County, we could chart local companies into this graphic.

To access the complete article go Daily Yonder here.