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Colorado’s creative sector creates … jobs

Neil McKenzie //January 21, 2011//

Colorado’s creative sector creates … jobs

Neil McKenzie //January 21, 2011//

In November 2010, the Colorado unemployment rate rose to 8.6 percent versus 7.4 percent in the prior year. While the unemployment rate increased, 3,800 new jobs were added to our State’s economy, the third consecutive month of adding more jobs. As more people return to the labor market and look for jobs, it is projected that our unemployment rate will continue to rise even as we add new jobs.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, employment increased in five of Colorado’s 11 major industry sectors over the 11 months ending in November. Here is a look at the overall picture:

Employment Sector Gainers

Education and health services +8,300
Professional & business services +2,300
Leisure and hospitality +1,200
Other services +200
Mining and logging +100
Total Gain 12,100

Employment Sector Decliners

Construction -9,400
Information -3,500
Government -2,700
Trade, transportation and utilities -2,600
Financial activities -2,500
Manufacturing -1,900
Total Declines -22,600

Net Change -10,500 Jobs

While employment has increased in the past few months, it is clear that we have quite a bit of work to do to keep adding jobs and reduce our unemployment rate.

Some refreshing news

In his recent inauguration speech, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that job creation was one of his top priorities. The Governor is developing a “bottom up” approach to come up with ideas and strategies to improve our employment situation. He has proposed that each of Colorado’s 64 counties develop their own economic development ideas and plans. These county plans would then be consolidated into 14 regional plans and then into an overall State economic development plan.

It is refreshing to see that the Governor is taking a “bottom up” business approach to improving our employment situation. An advantage of the bottom up approach is that it involves a larger number of people who probably have a better idea of their local situation and what will likely work for them.

The challenge will be to put together all of these ideas into a cohesive plan that will be effective. It is likely that what will be effective for one county may be of little use to another county depending on their situation, resources and historical economic base.

Development Clusters

In my recent article, Selling to birds of a feather, I talked about the concept of Regional Innovation Clusters proposed by the Brookings Institution in their article, Innovation Clusters Can Foster the Next Economy. The concept is simple – capitalize on our strengths to grow our state’s economy using the resources we already have and don’t chase the next “big thing.” We may want to be the next Silicon Valley or banking capital but we really don’t have the critical mass or resources to make it a reality.

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We already have economic clusters in Colorado like:
• Energy both old and new
• Tourism
• IT & telecom
• Biomedical
• And my favorite – the “Creative Sector”

In the Brookings’ concept of regional clusters, the main responsibility for growing the economy rests in the hands of business, not government. Government’s role is to coordinate the efforts, provide a central information clearing house and foster policies that support existing clusters. In our current economic situation, this model should find favor with our government leaders as they seek to become more efficient and slow the growth of the public sector.

The creative sector

If you have been reading my columns, you know that I have been beating the drum to get the word out about Colorado’s creative sector. Maybe a little review is in order:

• The creative sector is the fifth largest sector of our State’s economy in terms of employment
• Over 186,000 people are either directly or indirectly employed in this sector
• The sector includes individuals and firms involved in:

o Design
o Literary and publishing
o Performing arts
o Visual arts and crafts
o Film and media
o Heritage and museums
o And it even includes our State’s craft brewing industry!

The creative sector directly supports our tourism efforts, educational achievement and our overall quality of life.

Getting the word out about the creative sector

The scope and importance of our creative sector is becoming more well-known, but there is still a lot of work to be done to get the word out. At a recent meeting held by Colorado Creative Industries to get feedback on their strategic plan, I was surprised by how many people in the audience who are a part of the creative sector were unaware of the creative economy’s scope.
Colorado Creative Industries has come up with a new tagline for our State’s creative sector – “Colorado Creates.”

I think the idea will be to get businesses, organizations and individuals involved in the creative sector to mention the tagline on the products and services they provide. As more people hear and see the “Colorado Creates” message its impact will only grow.

I read the other day that while Gov. Hickenlooper was visiting as clothing manufacturer he inquired why the product labels did not say “Made in Colorado.” Clearly the Governor knows the power of a brand and the need to get the word out. The creative sector needs to get its word out as well.

Here are some ways we can use to “Colorado Creates” tagline to help get the word out:

• Colorado Creates – Great Art!
• Colorado Creates – And Innovates!
• Colorado Creates – The Energy Future!
• Colorado Creates – Great Vacations!
• Colorado Creates – A Great Place to Live and Work
• Colorado Creates – Cutting Edge Technologies!
• And not to forget the Governor, Colorado Creates – Great Beers!

What do you, your company or organization create?

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