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The Bull City’s Rising Creative Class

In this presentation, I examine recent shifts in the demographics of workers in Durham, including the development of a “creative class,” and what implications these shifts have for policy makers in the Bull City.  Specifically, the literature in this area proposes that monetary incentives have a limited effect on the locational decisions of the creative class, and the presence of other factors that attract them, such as cultural amenities or a diverse, open and creative milieu (Florida 2002) may justify alternative forms of investments in a city.

Click here to view the presentation.

Sarah Chan


  1. Good looking presentation on an interesting topic. I never knew lawyers and analysts are considered to be in the “creative class”, which I found very interesting.

    The maps you chose in the beginning are also extremely useful, especially in demonstrating how strong of a “creative class” Durham currently has.

    The section on American Tobacco also does a great job illustrating another facet of the Durham economy that relies heavily on the creative class.

    The empiracal model and the Creative Industries Effects table were a little confusing to me. I assume when you explain them in your presentation they will make more sense, but make sure to thoroughly explain them so everyone can understand what points you are trying to make with these data.

    Otherwise the presentation looks good and I look forward to seeing it on Wednesday.

  2. Piggy-backing on Daniel’s comment, I found the presentation to be very interesting but also was a little confused by the empirical model. The model presented on slide #10 is very clear, but where are the regression results? Also, where do the results shown on slide #12 come from? Aside from that, which I am sure you will clarify during the in-class slide show, I thought the presentation was very straightforward and interesting.

    The potential problem of gentrification leading to an outwards migration of ‘bohemians’ (i.e. writers and artists) is a fascinating one. It seems as if this type of ‘creative’ individual is usually an early-adopter but also an early-abandoner. The type of people who may have been drawn to Durham’s budding arts scene 10 years ago may be pushed away from a gentrified Durham 20 years down the road. Is it possible for Durham to attract both these so-called bohemians and creative professionals alike? Or is there an unavoidable trade off Durham will face between satisfying the wants of the small-time performing artists, lawyers, financial analysts and scientists who call it ‘home’?

  3. To agree with Daniel and Will, I was confused by the empirical model, but assume that you’ll clarify that in your presentation. I liked the emphasis on American Tobacco, and think it’d be interesting to expand on its potential effects on RTP. Also, it’s clear from the DT Durham masterplan that the draw of residents (which would primarily be young and “creative”) is one of the city’s main goals at the moment. It would be interesting to look at the reverse relationship between them and businesses, in that while businesses/amenities may be responsible for drawing residents, those same residents will be primarily responsible for the success/failure of these same businesses.

  4. This is a very interesting presentation.

    It seems as if the whole term “creative class” is a bit value-driven. It is difficult to economically quantify lifestyle decisions, but I really enjoyed your discussion of a rapidly changing Durham

    I think that it would be interesting if you framed your creativity analysis within the Tiebout model.

  5. This was a very interesting presentation! One thing I’ve always wondered about Durham, though, is why there seems to be a pretty constant increase in entertainment/dining options and very little bread and butter retail – like groceries and hardware stores. Doesn’t it seem that the creative class would be attracted to a walkable city? (which would include the range of amenities in a compact location). I’m surprised by the survey results indicting that people would come to Durham more often for more dining options. Did you think about or explore other sorts of development like schools, groceries, and retail have a relationship with the “creative class”?

  6. Endogeneity is always a big issue dealing with this type of question. Perhaps using a lagged value of employment could alleviate some of the problem. I’m not sure I understand why you were using creative employment as a predictor for creative employment. But overall, very interesting presentation.

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