I’m a fan of the work of Richard Florida.
Florida has written several books about the “creative class”. He examines why certain places seem to be hotbeds of creativity and innovation. Simply put, “creative” communities that are tolerant, and have an interesting arts scene, tend to also be communities that attract new business development. You don’t have to read Florida to intuitively know that some places just “feel” like better spots to start a business. Silicon Valley, if you’ve ever been there, has that feel. Austin, Texas has that feel. Apparently New Zealand and Singapore have that feel. And, those areas are indeed hotbeds for entrepreneurial development. Florida did the studies that proved this out.
I’m going to go a step further than Florida with this idea: While a few communities/cities do what they can to make there locale attractive to innovators, I’ve often wondered why they don’t simply invite them to come? The idea I have is to seek out top innovators, or even budding young innovators, artists, etc. and literally send them an engraved invitation. Depending on how it might be organized and the size of the city, you could invite just a few, or thousands. Over time, economies could be re-created.
I mean, what has Detroit, for example, got to lose? The city has been on a downward slide for years. Practically the only thing it has going for it now is empty space. Detroit, fill the space, invite some talent to Motown. The invitation should come with real tangible benefits, such as low cost health care coverage, inexpensive places to live, start-up incubator space, tax breaks, and a slew of locals who are willing to help with various types of support expertise. I mention Detroit here because it seems like something is bubbling in Motown, see this NY Times piece.
An old friend currently lives in Hillsboro, Ohio and he put a message on his FaceBook page recently lamenting that his community was losing jobs and asked the simple question, “what can we do?” It’s not an easy answer, but my idea above is certainly something they could try.