The Creative Class: What is it & How can Sacramento harness its power?

by Ronnie Nurss on April 30, 2012

This month’s Book Club Pup Crawl is about a new class of people: the Creative Class.

“Leading this transformation are 40 million Americans–more than one third of our national workforce–who create for a living. Called the “Creative Class,” they are found in a variety of fields, from engineering to theater, biotech to education, architecture to small business. They all have a huge economic impact, not only nationally, but also locally wherever they live. In the future, they will determine how the workplace is organized, what companies will prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities will thrive or decay in this new economy (think Austin vs. Detroit)”

-Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida is literally a textbook primer on this new economic class of people….covering the whole spectrum. In it, we learn more about this Creative Class, who they are, why they’ll be influencers in the new economy, how they work, where they work, and what cities can do to take advantage of them.

We chose this book because we believe Sacramento can become a go-to destination for the Creative Class.  Sacramento can become the next Austin (another state-government town) or the next Portland. It can become the next thriving and creative hub not only in California or the West Coast, but in the country.

Sacramento has the main ingredients to do this: a large population, the workforce and the talent, education, the infrastructure, the community, the diversity, a very large up-and-coming generation of young people and talent, even amazing weather and a prime geographic location.

Oh yeah, we also happen to be the capitol of the world’s 8th largest economy, California.  (Proof?  Check it out here.) 

The Rise of the Creative Class can be a primer that introduces the ideas and strategies on how we can make this happen. Interested in joining?  Sweet–join us for this month’s Book Club Pub Crawl. More information on that later…first, let’s take a quick intro look at The Rise of the Creative Class.


This is the theme of the book. Florida argues that creativity is the driving force of economic growth. It’s defined as “the ability to create meaningful new forms,” and it has become the most highly prized commodity in today’s economy. It can’t be outsourced to technology. It comes from people.

The big thing about the Creative Class is that creative people don’t necessary cluster where the biggest cities are or where the most jobs are.  They gravitate toward the centers of creativity and where they would enjoy living.

The Creative Class

Who’s apart of the Creative Class? Florida defines the core of the Creative Class of consisting of two components.
The Super Creative Core of the Creative Class includes:

  • Scientists and engineers
  • University professors
  • Poets and novelists
  • Artists
  • Entertainers and actors
  • Designers and Architects
  • And though leadership of America: writers, editors, cultural figures, think tank researchers, analysts, and opinion makers.

The Super Creative Core are fully engaged in the creative process. Their work requires them to constantly create new ideas, new technology, or new creative content.

Beyond this group, the Creative Class also contains Creative Professionals. They work in knowledge-intensive industries like:

  • High-tech sectors
  • Financial services
  • Legal and Healthcare
  • Business management

Creative Professionals are anyone who works in a field that demands them to solve complex problems and requires high levels of education and human capital.

The Creative Economy

Today’s economy is the Creative Economy according to Florida. Advanced nations are shifting their economies to information-based, knowledge-driven economies.

Florida breaks it down this way: Creativity, which is the creation of useful, meaningful new content or work out of knowledge, is the key driver in today’s economy. In his formulation, “knowledge” and “information” are the tools and materials of creativity. “Innovation,” whether in the form of new technology, new businesses, new methods or ways of doing things, is the final product.

The Creative Economy will reward the people and the cities that embrace this new economic model.

How can we make Sacramento the next creative hub of the country? Sacramento, which coincidentally Florida ranks as number 9 on his list of top creative cities in the country (just above Denver), is right on the verge of becoming a major creative and entrepreneurial hub of innovation in this country. Maybe a few ideas from The Rise of the Creative Class can help spark us as a city to reach that.

Join us over the next month as we dive into major themes of this book in several blog posts. Then join us for a discussion during our monthly Book Club Pub Crawl on Thursday, May 31 at 7 p.m. here at ThinkHouse Collective.

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