Knowledge, risk-taking and tolerance emerge as themes at 2007 National Conference on the Creative Economy
Fairfax County conference survey ranks "free-flow of ideas" and "improving K-12 education" as top strategies for next five years
Fairfax County, Virginia USA, November 2, 2007 – In his keynote address at the 2007 National Conference on the Creative Economy, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman echoed a conference theme: creativity and a broad foundation of learning are the fulcrums by which individuals, communities and nations can propel themselves to prosperity. The conference on Oct. 24-25, organized by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), attracted an audience of almost 400 business, community, academic and cultural leaders.
Attendees drew on the insights of some of the nation’s foremost authorities on social, demographic and workplace changes and trends. In addition to Friedman, author of The World is Flat, conference attendees heard major addresses from Alvin Toffler, futurist and author of Future Shock, who warned that our industrial-designed education system will not keep pace with an information-based society, and Richard Florida, professor and author of The Rise of the Creative Class, who said societies must be tolerant of those whom the mainstream has tended to shun if they are to reap the benefits of all creative thinkers.
Speakers and panelists explored themes that included Life in a Connected World, How Creative Communities Can Help Build a Diversified Local Economy, Leveling the Playing Field: Competing for Creative Talent, How Diversity Contributes to the Creative Economy, Creativity in Homeland Security, and Lost Knowledge: The Threat of an Aging Workforce.
Among the experts’ recommendations for success that emerged during the conference:
- harness the creativity of every individual
- manage and sustain the knowledge and skill of our workforce
- encourage risk-taking and free-thinking
- promote tolerance in our companies and communities
“The overriding message of the conference was that change is here, more is coming and that the companies and communities that harness creativity will be economic winners,” said Gerald Gordon, CEO and president of the FCEDA.
The conference concluded with a town hall discussion among conference attendees that was moderated by CNN’s Frank Sesno, after which conference participants could complete a survey on what companies and communities can do to be more creative in the next five years. The survey revealed overwhelming consensus on what companies and communities can do.
Below are survey respondents’ top recommendations for increasing creativity in the next five years:
“Great ideas” for companies: (percent of respondents who ranked the idea as a “great idea”)
- encourage the free-flow of ideas (71 percent)
- expand flex-time for employees (61 percent)
- expand professional development opportunities (59 percent)
“Great ideas” for communities: (percent of respondents who ranked the idea as a “great idea”)
- improve K-12 education (64 percent)
- encourage openness and tolerance (55 percent)
- encourage vibrant, mixed-use development (54 percent)
Visit www.creativeeconomies.org for summaries and photographs of conference presentations and panel discussions.
Conference sponsors were the Fairfax County government, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, FORTUNE, The Push Group LLC, Siddall, ICMA, Americans for the Arts, SkillSource Group, Potomac Tech Wire, the Washington Business Journal and Tech Journal South.
Fairfax County, host of the conference, is an example of the creative economy: 57 percent of county residents work in “creative occupations” in information technology, professional services, education and other fields. Time magazine this year called Fairfax County “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” Visit www.FairfaxCountyEDA.org.