The following is an article I wrote in Fall 2010 for a local magazine. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to print, so here it is for anyone interested.
(Photos: online sources. Exception Kelley Armstrong – April 30)
The Creative Economy
Ideas, knowledge, creativity and innovation. Words that describe the Creative Economy. It is a simple assumption that this kind of economy is rife with artisans and dramatic actors, but in fact, it is far more. It is broad reaching in it’s embrace, even described as “industry agnostic.” In it’s simplest terms, the creative economy consists of people who are paid to think, invent, design, inform, craft and motivate.
In the recent report, Creative Potential: Straddling Two Mega-Regions, released by the County of Elgin, it explains “The creative economy is as much about architects as it is about artists, programmers as it is about potters, it is beyond bohemians and includes brokers; stock, insurance, real-estate and more.”
Major urban centres such as London, recognized internationally for it’s medical research and Waterloo with world-renowned RIM and it’s business friendly Blackberry, these cities stand in the forefront as the core of Southwestern Ontario’s economic growth. Creative economy, however, knows no bounds and is not tied to physical centres.
Centrepiece Marketing is one example of the creative economy emerging in Elgin County. Michelle Fournier began Centrepiece Marketing in Port Stanley as a means to “promote and bring Canadian talent to our area, to introduce them and develop a fan base.” Once she began though, Fournier adds “it grew immediately into a provincial demand. The beauty about Elgin County is that there is a uniqueness about it offering an intimacy that large cities cannot. My musicians appreciate the closeness that they get from a smaller community.”
This is the impact that Heather Adams, Administrator and Economic Development Officer of the Town of Aylmer agrees with. Creative economy “provides new and expanding options for diversity in lifestyle and entertainment opportunities that we can access right here at home – both for our local residents but also for tourism attractions.” Adams adds, “Locally we have many undiscovered businesses that operate in this economy who either are providing a niche service, not well known or are in fact internationally known and do not have local visibility”
Such is the case with local author Kelly Armstrong. With books including The Reckoning and Tales of the Otherworld, Armstrong is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who resides east of Aylmer. Quoted in the Elgin County E-Newsletter, Armstrong describes her surroundings in Elgin County as “an inspiration in the sense that I have purposefully picked a very nice, quiet place here.” The location is ideal for Armstrong explaining “I am less than two hours from Toronto so I can easily commute and attend business events.”
Fournier echoes this sentiment. “Elgin County is beautiful in many ways. I live in Port Stanley and it offers a lot of inspiration. Touring through the county also does. I love the fact that we have such great abundance of produce, wineries, art galleries, walking trails, restaurants and a wonderful sense of community.”
While some may see life in the creative economy as small in scale, even novel and touristy, others embrace it with a recognition of it’s unique business advantage. Fournier explains “I have been approached by larger companies as they appreciate the foundation of a smaller rural county rather than being in a larger city and getting caught up in that environment.” This exemplifies that while larger urban centres play an important role, there is a shift in the economy and the mindset of business.
As industry and agriculture shift in Elgin County, open doors and creative minds are giving rise to the new creative economy; a new style of economy that knows no bounds.