Map Locations of Creative Class Growth Meet Up with “Rise of the Rest.” (Part 2)

Let’s face it: Economic growth is boring, though important. The better it is, the more resilient a community becomes. Out of this comes the culture and cultivation of the Creative Class. Houston may be the 4th largest city in the country but its creative class designation is, while on the upswing, crawling.

In this Part 2 blog post, I share some of the findings of Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, and his colleagues. Houston, despite all its size and culture, remains a lukewarm bed of creativity, especially when compared to New York, LA, and even Chicago. Most of that is due to the client base in Houston; much more B2B than B2C. More oil-n-gas than cornflakes; more energy than autos.

Based on Florida’s research and his colleagues’ input, they found that one of the most troubling trends of the past decade is the deepening geographic inequality across the U.S., especially through the clustering of particular types of talent in coastal cities like San Francisco and New York.

But a growing chorus of economists and urbanists suggest that we may be seeing the “rise of the rest,” a result of both increasingly unaffordable housing in established hubs and the improvement of the economies in less-established hubs.

While startups and tech employment remain highly clustered, recent reports suggest that some Rustbelt and Sunbelt metros are increasing their ability to attract college graduates.

Cincinnati Riverside

Cincinnati saw nearly 20 percent growth in its share of the creative class from 2005 to 2017. Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Investigating what is actually happening to the geography of talent, Florida concentrated on changes in the location of the creative class for a period immediately before, during, and post-recession. While most studies equate talent with the share of adults who hold college degrees, his creative class metric is based on occupation.

About nine in 10 Americans with a college degree are members of the creative class, which is made up of knowledge workers in education, healthcare, law, arts, tech, science, and business. But, only six in 10 members of the creative class hold a college degree.

CreativeClass 2005

In 2005, the top ten list read like a veritable who’s who of the nation’s leading knowledge and tech hubs, led by Washington D.C., San Jose, and San Francisco. But Baltimore (with a large cluster of medical and scientific research centers around Johns Hopkins University) and Minneapolis-St. Paul also make the top-10 list, besting bigger metros like New York and Los Angeles.

In 2017, the creative class makes up more than half the workforce in the leading metros, and there are substantial changes in the rankings. San Jose tops the list, followed by D.C. and San Francisco, and now Denver and Philadelphia have joined the top ten.

CreativeClass2017

The map below shows the percentage growth in the creative class from 2005 to 2017. A number of Rustbelt and Sunbelt metros which have previously lagged now show robust growth. Salt Lake City posted the fastest growth, with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati next in line. Las Vegas, which had the smallest creative class share of large metros in 2005, also saw significant growth.

Of leading creative class metros, only Seattle and Baltimore registered comparable gains. On the flip side, superstar hubs New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., all ranked among the ten metros with the slowest creative class growth.

CreativeClassGrowth

The even better news is that the creative class—which often garners the highest paying jobs—appears to be growing as a percentage of total workforce employment across the board.

This next chart shows Houston coming in at 32nd out of 53 metro areas, between St. Louis and Pittsburgh for the 2005-2017 time span. Houston’s Creative Class growth rate approximates 37% over the 12-year span.

Growth:Change 2005:2017

According to Florida and his research associates, the creative class has seen remarkable growth over this time frame, increasing from 44 million members in 2005 to more than 56 million in 2017, as virtually all large U.S. metros saw growth. The rate of creative class growth (27.2 percent) was more than double the growth rate of overall U.S. workforce (13.6 percent) over this period.

Florida believes we may well be seeing the beginnings of a tipping point in the geography of talent as housing prices continue to rise in superstar cities, while metros in once talent-lagging parts of the country capitalize on the significant cost advantages and quality of life they have to offer.

Houston Skyline Glow

Houston Skyline Sunrise Glow Panorama – Color Texas Canvas Print is a photograph by Bee Creek Photography – Tod and Cynthia.

In Houston, as in other comparably sized metro areas, technology and shared work spaces are in the forefront of change and innovation. The medical community, at least in Houston, is striving as never before to consistently research and provide for better and faster disease fighters. Economic and infrastructure expansion in the Texas Medical Center continues to roll along. This progress goes hand-n-hand with expansion of the Creative Class.

But we can’t let up. Just as important as innovative medicine development is, so, too, is the expansion and underwriting of the arts, culture and creativity in its purest form.

 

So, let me know your thoughts, questions or comments. I’d really like to hear from you.

 

Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a university professor in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management.

Meow Wolf’s Art World Raises Millions Highlighting Creative Economy’s Potential. Houston, take note! (Part 1)

Meow who? Wolf, Meow Wolf. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Meow Wolf is an arts and entertainment group that is attracting audiences of all ages in its immersive art world.

Meow Wolf is comprised of over 400 employees creating and supporting art across a variety of media, including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, video production, cross-reality (AR/VR/MR), music, audio engineering, narrative writing, costuming, performance, and more!

Meow Wolf creates immersive and interactive experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration. This includes art installations, video and music production, and extended reality content.

 

Their first permanent installation, the THEA Award-winning House of Eternal Return, (HOER) launched in March 2016 with support from Game of Thrones creator, George R.R. Martin. Inside, guests discover a multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals to magical worlds, and an expansive narrative amidst surreal, maximalist, and mesmerizing art exhibits. Located in Santa Fe, HOER features a children’s learning center, a cafe and bar, and a music venue.

ImpactAlpha called this choose-your-own adventure, art installation, “one of the most successful examples of the creative economy.”

Meow Wolf champions otherness, weirdness, challenging norms, radical inclusion, and the power of creativity to change the world. Houston, are you listening?

Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return

Legally registered as a public benefit corporation and certified as a Benefit Corporation, or B Corp, Meow Wolf values investing in their creative team, giving back to their community, and doing their part to better the environment.

Through ticket, gift shop, food and beverage sales, and events, Meow Wolf is pulling in more than $1 million a month in revenues. George R. Martin, author of the novels adapted for HBO’s Game of Thrones series, is Meow Wolf’s landlord in Santa Fe. He’s also an investor and creative advisor to the firm.

This company, according to ImpactAlpha, emphasizes the potential of the creative economy. “This does not mean impact capital is not flowing to the creative economy—it is just not doing so on purpose,” Laura Callanan of Upstart CoLab told ImpactAlpha.

Meow Wolf firmly believes that accomplished artists must be compensated on an equal level with other skilled, in-demand professionals. Successful businesses must give back to — and participate energetically in — their communities.

Wolf provides financial assistance, expertise, and other forms of active support, and is excited to support innovative, community-focused art and social projects.

Meow Wolf’s path echoes what last year, in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Callanan wrote: “When creative people pursue businesses that have a social purpose, they can have a catalytic impact on job creation, the economy, and social well-being.”

Asset 1

Meow Wolf’s jaw-dropping 10 year journey of an anarchic art collective has grown into a multi-million dollar business. According to their web site, Wolf grew from having no access to blowing a new, profitable portal into the art world.

This tumultuous journey has yielded new ways of participating in culture and entertainment for not only these artists, but for the people from all walks of life who engage in and are inspired by their work. With a mission to provide access to and inspire creativity in everyone, Meow Wolf continues to experience growing pains, while continuing to reach for new impossibles.

Does Houston have anything like this? While Houston is considerably larger than Santa Fe, the expansive geography lends itself to challenges for cultivating a strong and viable creative economy. Sure there are the museums, NASA, Space Center Houston as well as several start-ups in and around the Texas Medical Center serving as a harbinger of creativity and innovation.

Houston logo

But is that enough? One might argue that it is not.

Houston doesn’t seem to have a “meow wolf” instigator-like venue or organization to stimulate its own creative economy. Not that the city hasn’t tried. The Houston Arts Alliance, Greater Houston Partnership, Only in Houston/OiH Creatives, American Advertising Federation Houston are but a few of select organizations who have tried, and are still doing so, to pull together what it takes to stimulate the region’s creative economy.

As Meow Wolf would tell anyone or any city, this takes continuous effort and a belief that what one is doing is worth it for everyone. That remains a challenge for Houston, and one it must overcome.

 

 

Wanna put some fun back into advertising? Sure ya do!

Remember when advertising used to be, dare I say it, fun? We actually enjoyed working in this industry. And, I’m not even talking about our three-martini lunches!

The work. The creativity. Client interactions. Clients actually willing to work with us. I know. Sounds like it’s all from a galaxy far, far away.

Well, not quite. You’re invited to come join AAF-Houston on Wednesday, May 16, for a special appearance by a renowned creative from The Richards Group in Big D, Chris Smith.

Come be our guests and learn how to put some fun back into your advertising. Feel free to register right now!

ChrisSmithLuncheon_update HR2

Rich Klein – RIP

The advertising community in Houston recently lost a good friend. Rich Klein passed away Sunday, October 12, 2014. This blog is a big believer in creativity and nurturing that in students and young professionals (and pros from all age groups for that matter). Rich was a valiant supporter of young people’s dreams and aspirations, and encouraged many to enlist in the advertising profession.

Jay Hagins, a longtime friend as well as a believer and supporter of creativity, had this to say about Rich:

Rich’s passion for the advertising industry was unparalleled; he mentored literally thousands of advertising professionals and with his partner, Bill Fogarty, built an advertising agency that attracted clients from coast to coast bringing national attention to the Houston advertising industry. Rich and Bill won national and regional clients such as Chef Boyardee, Ranch Style Beans, Waste Management, Advance Auto Parts, Popeye’s, Builders Square, Mattress Firm, BFI, Randall’s Supermarkets, Shiner Beer, Mission Foods, Amegy Bank, ConocoPhillips and many others. Rich and Bill nurtured the industry’s future with a highly competitive internship program with teams of college students that would actually get to present their own strategies, plans and creative to real clients.

Rich was recognized as a Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame member, AAF-Houston Silver Medal award winner and Living Legend. Rich and Bill began giving scholarships to qualified college students in 1991 and later established the Rich Klein and Bill Fogarty Communications Scholarship within the Advertising Education Foundation of Houston where Rich became Chairman leading the foundation to unprecedented growth. This year Rich and the Foundation awarded $30,000 in advertising scholarships to students throughout the Southwest.

From the unlikely pairing of a seasoned packaged goods brand manager and an ex-journalist-turned advertising maven it has been a long voyage from the day Rich Klein had to break it to Bill Fogarty’s wife that the pair was leaving their jobs to start a business with no business in hand. Lucky for advertising in the Southwest, Rich Klein and Bill Fogarty stayed true to their vision and made it happen, creating the best, darn agency in Houston, one with a rich legacy of innovation and accomplishment, integral community work, and programs to inspire future ad folks like themselves.

Rich will be truly missed but to further his legacy and to honor Rich’s passion to further the education of young people, the family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to:

The Rich Klein Communications Scholarship
AEFH
P.O. Box 27592
Houston, Texas 77227

I would encourage all who may read this to consider donating to this very worthy scholarship.

Thanks for reading and your interest. Thank you, Rich, for your advice, friendship and guidance over the years. We’ll miss you!