"I will resettle your cities, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, "This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited and thriving." - Ezekiel, Chapter 36: verses 33-36
This column will focus on the power of human creativity. And particularly, the transformative power of entrepreneurism. It will feature the creative dynamism of not only Detroit, and the region, but the creative fervor and the creativity revolution that is sweeping the globe. This creativity revolution has been made possible by the expanding and deeping wave of communications technology generated by the advent of the electronic digital age. We now live in a world driven by the silent flight and dance of electrons. Computerization and all of its concomitant technological reverberations has unleashed a tsunami of creativity unprecedented in human history.
At the same time we see beginnings of the complete reconfiguration of traditional social, governmental and financial systems and structures. Human evolution is being challenged to accommodate -- indeed keep up with -- the massive global change wrought by our technological genies. Our humanity is now in direct competition with our technology.
Detroit is in a very unique position to take advantage of this evolutionary wave. It is in a position to recreate itself because in a real sense much of its slate of traditional structures has been swept clean. Most of those structures, social , political and economic, emanated from the monolithic power and influence of The Big Three automobile manufacturers. They didn't call it the Motor City for nothing.
That monolithic influence has been shattered by international automotive competition and the pressure of automation. The entire landscape of "business as usual" in Detroit has changed. It is ripe for an entirely new seedbed of entrepreneurs and the businesses they spawn. Detroit can become, and I predict will become, a premier model of what a post industrial 21st Century city can be. All the creative ingredients are available: great geographical location, excellent transportation infrastructure, a history of creating and sustaining successful industries, an experienced and expanding technological workforce, tremendous local and regional educational assets, and the ever present creative fire of a population that has given us cars, music, art, literature, architecture and dance.
This cauldron of creativity is purposely being churned and channeled by a new entity called the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) which itself is a product of the Detroit Creative Corridor Initiative.
The Detroit Creative Corridor Center is a recently created business incubator housed in the new campus of the College for Creative Studies in the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education. Formerly known as the Argonaut Building, it is located immediately behind the old General Motors Headquarters on Grand Boulevard. The Creative corridor itself is roughly a 2 x 4 mile long sector that is now commonly known as Midtown -- New Center to the Detroit River, between the I-75 and Lodge freeways -- that has been designated to receive massive financial support to attract new businesses. Especially those that are engaged in creativity based services or products, such as design firms, digital media, film, fine art, advertising agencies, apparel design and production, and the design and production of other creativity intensive products or services.
The DC3 is committed to promoting the success of the creative economy in Detroit, and Detroit's Creative Corridor is quickly becoming home to some of the nation's most innovative creative practitioners. It is working with creative sector businesses -- from world-class advertising agencies to up-and-coming fashion designers -- to ensure that creative talent is informed of the opportunities in the city, supported in their business functions, and supported in the development of their creativity and business skills.
The Creative Corridor initiative's goal is to bring these institutions, businesses and people together to serve as a magnet for yet even more -- to create an "Attractor" if you will. Creative people are not only drawn to each other but are driven by one another.
This is why dense urban city centers are characterized as prime breeding grounds for creative minds to spawn the next big idea. It also explains why so many of the brightest minds drain out of neglected cities like Detroit and into locales that have greater "creative mass," such as Chicago, LA, Miami and New York. This effort to attract and nurture new entrepreneurs is not just aimed at local or regional talent; it is national and international in scope.
Writes Crain's Detroit:
According to a report by Austin, Texas-based AngelouEconomics, there are more than 33,000 people working in the region's creative sector -- architects, advertisers, designers, writers, film and music producers, graphic, visual and performing artists. And their industries are growing twice as fast as the service sector and four times as fast as manufacturing.
Creative industry jobs pay well, too, particularly in fields like advertising, design and digital media. According to AngelouEconomics, creative industry jobs in Detroit pay an estimated 50 percent more than the U.S. average wage ($64,768 vs. $42,535).
Given the low "barriers to entry" like the low cost of housing, office and production space, and job creation tax incentives, plus the sheer numbers of young people moving into Detroit from places near and far, the "Detroit Miracle" is well underway.
There may not be a "stairway to heaven," but Detroit has definitely provided a Corridor to Success.
David Rice can be contacted at DesigNationBlog@gmail.com.
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