How Can the Triangle Sustain an Engaged and Creative Economy?

ED Forum 2015 discusses the assets that have positioned us for economic success, and what’s around the corner.

Earlier this month, Steven Pedigo provided answers to the question of “how can the Triangle sustain a creative and engaged economy?” at Wake County Economic Development’s (WCED) Annual Economic Development Forum.

Pedigo, Director of Research for the Creative Class Group, a global advisory services firm founded by Richard Florida, and director of New York University’s Initiative for Creativity and Innovation in Cities, provided global context for why “place” drives innovation and how creativity and ideas, driven by a knowledge-based economy like the Triangle’s, will allow our community to maintain competitive advantages in a global economy.

Some of the major takeaways from the Forum are outlined below, and his full presentation can be downloaded here.

reasons why our communities matter:

1. We are living through the greatest shift in the global economy. Pedigo suggests that today’s economy is driven by the rise of the creative and service sectors and that knowledge and human creativity will fuel further development of the world economy.

2. The Creative Class is the core force of future economic growth. Pedigo defines the creative class as thinkers, leaders and innovators – a group that is growing and has significant economic impact with a strong presence in the Triangle. 

3. As we urbanize, our cities and suburbs are more alike than ever before. More than 50% of the world’s people live in cities and metros, with an estimated 60 million more moving there each year. Pedigo suggests that jobs, innovation and all economic development flow from urban areas. He also points out that the line between urban and suburban is becoming blurred.

4. Clustering is a driving force…both economically and socially. Clusters lead to innovation and competitiveness, and allow each member to benefit as if it had greater scale.


What does this mean for the Triangle?

Pedigo highlights universities as the key driver of the creative economy, but notes that engagement with universities is key. The Triangle is well-positioned, with three tier-one research universities, and an additional seven institutions of higher learning. He sugests that technology, talent and tolerance are critical tools for effectively leveraging universities:

  • Technology: University research has been found to make corporate innovation more efficient. 
  • Talent: Universities affect talent both directly and indirectly. 
  • Tolerance: Research universities help shape a regional environment open to new ideas and diversity. 
Pedigo cites case studies from other cities that the Triangle should look to moving forward:


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