What is a Creative Professional?

CarrieComputer.jpgBetween the HRA’s staff report and various newspaper articles, I’m fielding many questions like that in the title of this blog. In spite of my best efforts, there are a few people out there that think that the NDDC is going to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t call themselves an artist.

First, no one associated with the NDDC has ever called it the “Artist Building”. Although it is also true that no one at the NDDC is particularly wild about the name “Building for Creative Professionals”, the working title was selected to clearly identify the target of the marketing efforts.

The phrase is based on ideas in Richard Florida’s book “The Rise of the Creative Class” that was discussed at an NDDC Forum in March of 2005. The jobs in this group start with artists, designers, and media workers. From the very beginning, I added architects, chemists (due to my close working relationship with the great, late Don Tarr), and computer programmers. Since then, I’ve heard that most people also include educators, health professionals, and even lawyers.

I’m sorry, but I’m drawing the line at lawyers, unless or until my board of directors overrules me.

Back in the ’80s, when I was earning my MBA at the College of St. Thomas, we referred to these people as “Knowledge Workers”. They all made their livings by coming up with creative new ways to approach the same old problems. In fact, I remember reading “The Knowledge Executive”, a book by Harlan Cleveland, Dean of the Hubert Humphrey Institute, that suggested that it was going to take a new type of manager to provide leadership to this new type of worker.

Depending on the source, and the professions included, it’s usually considered to make up between 25 and 50 percent of the U. S. workforce. I would venture to say that in Northfield it’s probably close to two-thirds of the workforce. In fact, if you are a proponent of Asset Based Community (or Economic) Development, you probably would be advocating for efforts that would attract more of these types of jobs and these types of workers to our town.

However, none of this matters for the Building for Creative Professionals, because our marketing efforts are going to include not only vocational creatives but those that practice avocational creativity.

So, if you’re one of the 67% of Northfield’s workforce that is creative in your professional life or if you find that you explore your creativity in your private time, and you’re looking for rental housing in an authentic downtown, within a community that values art and culture, we hope that you’ll consider the Building for Creative Professionals. We think that our efforts will bring a positive contribution to Northfield.