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Triangle Ranks As Top Area For 'Creative Class'

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RALEIGH, N.C. — It seems the Triangle is at the top of every list imaginable. It is called one of the best places to live and the economy has been praised. Now, the area is being touted as a hotbed of creativity in a new book.

The book, "The Rise of the Creative Class," ranks the Triangle among the top 6 cities and regions in the country for being the kind of place that attracts creative people.

The author was in Raleigh this week to point to one prime example of what puts the area near the top.


North Carolina Museum of Art

unveiled plans for a

new art park

on 164 acres surrounding the museum. When complete, the park will be the first of its kind in the country.

Author Richard Florida said the museum's plans are the kind of thing that continues to attract the best and brightest to the region.

"The ability to combine outdoor recreational assets with art and a kind of creative stimulation is an enormous plus. If you can connect that with your urban fabric through trails and green ways, you have a big win-win," Florida said.

Many who visit existing walking trails agree.

"This really will be a magnet for all kinds of people and I just think it's incredible," resident Kelly Branson said.

Florida defines the "creative class" as more than just musicians, artists and writers. He includes research scientists, software engineers at SAS Institute and anyone who uses creativity as a key factor in their work.

In the Triangle, Florida said the creative class accounts for two-thirds of the economy. Catering to their lifestyle interests, he claims, is vital to the region's future.

"And that will position you to compete better for people, generate more companies and grow your economy," Florida said.

Gone are the days when metro areas can count on big companies attracting people, according to Florida. He said now it is creative pools of talent that attract employers and cultural amenities that attract and retain the economy's movers and shakers.

"Certainly, what we're doing here is creating a great natural resource and recreational resource that we think will appeal to what he has labeled as the 'creative class of people,'" said Larry Wheeler, N.C. Museum of Art director.

In the book, the Triangle, ranked No. 6, is in company with cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston and New York.

The author points to Chapel Hill's No. 6 ranking in

Rolling Stone

magazine as the best college music scene in the country as another example of what sets the area apart.


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