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Press Room

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: 

“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”)

“Great ideas” for communities: (percent of respondents who ranked the idea as a “great idea”)

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.

Featured Speaker

Photo of Richard Florida.

Richard Florida

Professor Richard Florida is the author of the 2002 best-seller, The Rise of the Creative Class and the 2005 must-read follow-up, The Flight of the Creative Class.

Photo of Thomas Friedman.

Thomas Friedman

Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times , Thomas Friedman is the author of the runaway best-seller The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.

Photo of Alvin Toffler.

Alvin Toffler

Author of the book Revolutionary Wealth and former associate editor of Fortune magazine, Alvin Toffler literally invented the roll of the futurist with the publication of his seminal work Future Shock.

Photo of David DeLong.

David DeLong

MIT AgeLab research fellow and and adjunct professor at Babson College, David DeLong is the author of Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce. His firm, David DeLong & Associates, helps companies solve performance and staffing problems caused by an aging workforce and skills shortages.

Photo of Joe Watson.

Joe Watson

Joe Watson is CEO of Without Excuses and StrategicHire, located in Reston, VA. Without Excuses delivers professional development programs across a wide swath of executive skills. StrategicHire specializes in the placement of diverse middle- and senior-level management personnel across a broad range of industries. Watson is the author of Without Excuses: Unleash the Power of Diversity to Build Your Business, published in 2006 by St. Martin's Press.

Photo of Joe Watson.

Anne Fisher

Anne Fisher is a Senior Writer for FORTUNE magazine, where she covers workplace and management topics. Fisher also writes the popular weekly career-advice column "Ask Annie" at CNNMoney.com and is the author of two books, If My Career's on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map? and Wall Street Women.

Photo of Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno has been chronicling world events as a journalist for more than 25 years. He serves as a Professor of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC, and he is a Special Correspondent for CNN where he makes documentaries and works on special projects for the network.

Creativity Quotes

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

— George S. Patton

“The only things in my life that compatibly exist with this grand universe are the creative works
of the human spirit.”

— Ansel Adams

“The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it's with you all the time.”

— Alvin Ailey

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.”

— George S. Patton

“It is the supreme art
of the teacher
to awaken joy
in creative expression and knowledge.”

— Albert Einstein

“The question
is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

— Martin Luther
King, Jr.

“All creative people want
to do the unexpected.”

— Hedy Lamarr

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

— Dr. Seuss
(Theodore Geisel)

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”

— Victor Hugo

“We are not creatures of circumstance; we are
creators of circumstance.”

— Benjamin Disraeli

“It may be that those who do most, dream most.”

— Stephen Leacock

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.”

— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.”

— Charles Mingus

“Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.”

— Brian Aldiss

“Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.”

— Mason Cooley