January 21, 2008 - Dayton Business Journal

New initiative seeks to boost 'creative class' in Dayton area

A consortium of local universities is launching the Creative Region Initiative, an effort to retain and attract a talented workforce by cultivating a creative and vibrant community.

The initiative is culmination of a yearlong process spearheaded by the Southwest Ohio Council for Higher Education. The group worked with 20 local organizations as part of a Creative Class task force.

The initiative will include projects intended to foster an environment that attracts the creative class, said Sean Creighton, executive director of SOCHE. For example, one project could target keeping college students from leaving the area after graduation.

The initiative is expected to last for a year. SOCHE is raising $175,000 to support hiring a part-time director and to hire the Creative Class Group, a firm run by Richard Florida, author of "The Rise of The Creative Class."

The group is taking applications to find 30 volunteers to serve over the next year to drive the initiative. Applications, due Feb. 8, can be downloaded at soche.org.

"A Community Catalyst is a dedicated community volunteer committed for one year to educate, engage and enable fellow citizens to build a more authentic, sustainable and prosperous region through the Creative Region Initiative," Creighton said.

The initiative draws from Florida's research, which shows how regions can build their economies by targeting the creative class -- workers whose jobs involve "thinking for a living" and come from all fields. The sector, consisting of scientists, engineers, managers, innovators and people in research and development, as well as artists, writers and musicians, are the thought to be the educated and demanding consumers in the marketplace. The sector is expected to grow 20 percent over the next decade.

Florida spoke in Dayton in March. SOCHE launched a Creative Class Task Force in January 2007. The task force's work lead to the creation of the initiative.