Creative class will arrive

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2008

If you’ve looked up and down Water Avenue lately, you’re likely to see some changes in the works.

The avenue has at least one new resident in a loft on the upper end. Barrett Welch, The Selma Times-Journal’s sports editor, decided he wanted to move into digs close to the office and around activity.

Barrett represents a lot of younger people who move into a place, seeking convenience and shopping and services.

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Urban studies professor Richard Florida examined young workers and trends in his work, “The Rise of the Creative Class.” Florida’s thesis in this book published six years ago: “The truly big changes of our time are social, not technological.”

In his book, Florida contends the social changes focus on the creative class: people engaged in science and engineering, computers and programming, architecture and design, education, arts, music and entertainment. The creative class then draws in anyone who draws a salary for creative work or paid to create rather than draw a check for performing a task.

He points out that this class of people, who earn more disposable income, tolerate diversity in their neighborhoods.

He also says for a place to really grow, it must attract creative people. The creative jobs follow the creative people, who generally live in diverse neighborhoods; seek friendly, easily accessible outdoor activities, such as jogging or cycling; and who want night cafes and dining opportunities.

Florida developed his thesis with major metropolitan areas in mind, but it has an application in rural areas like ours that lose a lot of young talent as our high school graduates begin to leave.

We need to attract talented young families, midlife career movers, active retirees and others for their talent base and, of course, as an economic base.

And, if you look at the avenue, we’re on our way. The St. James Hotel, Major Grumbles, Warren’s and The Vineyard all provide that cafe, intimate feel for the evenings. The Frame Shoppe offers something for the artistic and the artisans among us. ArtsRevive recently purchased the Carneal building at the top of the avenue for the arts. The city has planned jogging and bicycle trails.

We’re getting there. Soon, more younger, older and families of this creative class will push their way onto the avenue by the river.

Leesha Faulkner is executive editor of The Selma Times-Journal. You may reach her at 410-1730 or by e-mail at