By James Forrest
We hear a lot of talk around town about how the Bull City is rising. Perhaps we should acknowledge that the Bull City has, in fact, risen—and in a big way.
As if all of our fine community’s work hasn’t moved us in plenty of the right directions—Durham routinely places well in a variety of “Best of” surveys by leading magazines and media outlets—now comes a fantastic study by Richard Florida, an expert on creative communities, published at The Atlantic Cities, an online property of The Atlantic magazine.
All of us in Durham will recognize what has become our secret sauce in becoming a proud community bursting with entrepreneurial energy, as Florida’s study sees the Bull City achieving the number one ranking for percentage of creative class professionals with a whopping 48 percent of our workforce tied to sectors such as design and architecture, life sciences, healthcare, technology, entertainment and media, law, management, and education.
When you look at the study’s findings, as well as some of the metro areas coming in behind Durham in the rankings, such as the Silicon Valley’s San Jose, Washington, DC, and Boston, the reasons for Durham’s emergence become absolutely clear. Anyone could guess that these “usual suspects” would rank highly in creative class, but the fact is that many people in our community have been putting in long hours of hard work coupled with hard dollars investing in their businesses, be they large and mature or small startups.
The best part about this ranking is that we’ve all achieved this together as a community. You simply don’t rise to this level of creative entrepreneurship without attracting new talent to join in the mission. We’ve seen this togetherness over and over again, through public-private partnerships, area economic development entities such as Bull City Forward and the Durham Chamber, public investment and development in areas such as the Durham Performing Arts Center, and the expanded presence of Duke University and its Medical Center.
This is personal for me, since I work with a number of clients who fit the criteria as creative class professionals. When I think of Durham, I think of many things, but most of all I think of all of these great people (and many more), who push our business community to new levels of greatness every day.