This is Simon Review Paper # 39.


Since the 2002 release of Richard Florida’s seminal book, The Rise of the Creative Class, a considerable amount of the regional and local development discussion has focused on his concept of attracting and retaining the creative class as a vehicle of economic growth. Florida’s (2002) work centers on the premise that contemporary development is not a process of attracting large employers but attracting talented people to an area; it is a process of jobs following people, not people following jobs. Although Florida has a primarily urban focus (Peck, 2005), with more than 59 million or 19.3 percent of the American people living in rural areas, including nearly 12 percent of Illinoisans (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013), ignoring the impact of rural artists and creative activities comes at the detriment of local, state and national economic progress. With Florida in mind as an avenue to increasing economic activity in the region, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute convened a day-long conference held at the Carbondale Civic Center April 29, 2014. As part of the conference the information contained in this paper was presented by Kent Dolezal, Lindsay Knaus and Nichole Sack. This paper’s purpose is to summarizes the concepts in those remarks and disseminate the information to a wider audience.