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Richard Florida on What Toronto (& Other Creative Cities) Need
Creative Class | October 24, 2012

Richard Florida on What Toronto (& Other Creative Cities) Need

"The success of cities is powered by clustering and concentration," Richard Florida writes in Toronto Life, " [due to] their ability to attract people, push them together in new combinations and spur productivity, creativity and economic growth. They are the places where ideas come to mate, and people and firms generate inventions and new industries." With more people gravitating toward urban centers than ever before, it would stand to reason that major cities would be prospering and attracting talented, new leaders with creative and ambitious plans for improvement. However, Florida notes that bustling metropolises like Toronto (among others) are not drawing the effective leadership they need, are becoming increasingly fragmented and combative towards their rural counterparts and are experiencing widening class divides. His advice? Ban together rather than pull apart and give more power to those in office to make the changes that the city needs in able to thrive.

"It makes no sense for separate towns to compete for businesses that are going to locate in a shared region," Florida writes. Rather than competing for new businesses, especially when they will be crossing borders between suburb and city, the municipalities must work together to attract new companies. Doing so, he says, will broaden those borders, expand the greater region's power and enable them to compete against larger cities in other parts of the country, or, in other countries across the world. This, can be achieved through a dedicated effort to hire and empower "more effective leadership vehicles that can braid their myriad efforts together as a real force for change." The old adage if you can't beat 'em, join 'em has a ring of truth to it in this instance, it seems. 

Class division must also be addressed, Florida, the author of The Rise of the Creative Class and Who's Your City? says. Despite hard economic times, he argues that providing higher wages and more opportunity is "not a pipe dream," and goes on to cite the fact that such an overhaul was " exactly how we turned manufacturing jobs from low-paid work during the Great Depression into high-paid, family supporting jobs after World War II." Though his piece was mainly focused on Toronto, his insights have broader implications that expand to other cities across the world who are floundering despite possessing creative potential. His work has inspired successful ad campaigns for companies like BMW. The cutting edge research presented in his talks both intrigue those in academic circles and inspires those in the business world to become leaders in the 21st century world.
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