Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Houston #7 for "Creative Class"

Richard Florida's "Creative Class" city rankings have Houston at a very respectable #7, actually ahead of NY, DC, LA, Chicago, and even Portland. If you're not familiar with the Creative Class, a quick definition from the Amazon book description:
"Florida, an academic whose field is regional economic development, explains the rise of a new social class that he labels the creative class. Members include scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists, and entertainers. He defines this class as those whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content. In general this group shares common characteristics, such as creativity, individuality, diversity, and merit."

I'm sure there was an amusing moment as they tweaked their formula to make sure that the "obvious" cities of San Francisco, Austin, Boston, and Seattle ended up at the top, and they said "How the hell did Houston get in the top 10?" They probably kept playing with the formula, but every time they got Houston to drop out, it probably also dropped out one of the "obvious" ones, so they were stuck.

Actually, my guess is that the problematic one was New York, which, if you look at the table, has very similar component rankings to Houston. They knew any "creative city" rankings that didn't have NY in the top 10 would be laughed out the door, and there was no way they could tweak the formula to keep NY in but exclude Houston.

I, of course, believe Houston is a great creative class city, but I know that's not our national stereotype/image. It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall watching them try to reconcile the hard facts/rankings with what they "knew" to be true about Houston (which was that it certainly couldn't come out ahead of New York... ;-)


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