Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Does Rural Matter? the Creative Class in South Carolina

Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Does Rural Matter? the Creative Class in South Carolina

Article excerpt

Introduction

For rural communities, finding ways to achieve economic competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-based economy presents several unique challenges. From cultivating and maintaining a skilled workforce to attracting high quality jobs, there are a variety of issues that rural communities must address in order to improve their economic positioning. Additionally, there is a burgeoning body of literature that has examined the complex relationship that exists between human capital and economic development. This literature has increasingly suggested that highly skilled and educated individuals are important drivers of economic growth (Barro, 1991; Mathur, 1999). However, in the field of regional economic development, there is a lack of consensus regarding the factors that affect the geographical distribution of high-quality human capital. This debate has led some economists to examine the ways in which cities can emphasize certain local characteristics in order to attract individuals who work in creative, or knowledge-based, occupations. Referred to as the "creative class," these individuals represent a type of high-quality human capital that can drive economic growth within a regional economy.

According to Florida (2002), the "creative class" is comprised of a variety of professions that are either heavily engaged in creative processes or in complex problem solving. Such creative class professions include individuals working in the arts, media, engineering, education, healthcare, business, and finance. These professions are considered to be members of the creative class since each requires some degree of creation, innovation, or complex usage of knowledge (Florida, 2002). Likewise, various researchers have drawn linkages between the presence of these creative professionals and higher levels of economic productivity within a local economy (Florida, 2010; Amabile, 1996; Andersson, 1985). As a result of this connection, it may be useful for development professionals to understand the ways in which members of the creative class can be attracted to small cities that wish to expand their economic influence. This may be especially true for many rural cities and towns, where it is often difficult to attract and retain high quality human capital. Accordingly, this research will address the following question: Why are creative class professionals attracted to some areas and not others? Answering this question may be especially pertinent in state of South Carolina, where declining agricultural and textile industries have left many communities economically disadvantaged. In order to assist these communities, it may be beneficial to research the factors that have allowed certain South Carolina cities to be successful in attracting members of the creative class7. This research should also provide insight into the factors that influence the distribution of the creative class among various localities. By identifying several of the factors that affect the location of high-quality human capital, this research will fill an important gap in the existing economic development literature.

Although there exists a growing body of literature on the creative class, very little attention has been given to the factors that influence the location of creative class professionals in non-metropolitan areas. To date, the vast majority of this research has focused on the factors that have attracted the creative class to large metropolitan areas (Florida, 2002; Florida, Mellander, & Stolarick, 2008). As a result, little attention has been given to the factors that can assist smaller metropolitan areas, as well as nonmetropolitan areas, in their efforts to attract creative class professionals. By identifying the factors that have attracted the creative class to non-metropolitan areas, it will be possible to examine whether smaller (and possibly rural) areas differ from large urban areas with respect to theft ability to attract members of the creative class. …

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