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Welcome - Issue 26

Welcome to the EconomicDevelopment.org newsletter! This issue looks at development clusters, the rise of ditigal nomads and how you can expand your analytical toolkit.

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Happy reading!

 - The EconomicDevelopment.org Team

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The Higher ED Blog: Expand your analytical toolkit to get the whole economic picture

Person using a tablet

By Michelle Madden

Economic analysis is one of the core competencies of economic development, and for good reason. If we don’t understand our local economies, how can we influence their growth and development? The two most common tools used by developers are shift share analysis and location quotients (LQs). But do these tools provide a full picture?

Greg Landry, the Senior Advisor, Sector Development with the Nova Scotia Department of Business, doesn’t think so. For his Year 3 paper, Extending the Regional Analysis Toolkit, he decided to test these tools, plus multi-factor partitioning (MFP) and the Carvalho classification system, and see how the results compare. While all four are useful for understanding the performance of local industry, Greg thinks they all need to be in the toolkit because each provides a different view of economic change. To illustrate these differences, he collected Statistics Canada data for Canada’s 69 economic regions (1996 and 2012) then applied all four techniques.

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Does your main street have touristic appeal?

Waterfront property.

By David Clark

Small cities, towns, and villages often struggle to attract tourists. Many focus on the downtown core highlighting “historic” aesthetics as a key marketing message. The downtown is perceived to be an important draw for tourists, enhancing overall visitor experience, especially if it has an interesting mix of businesses. In some cases tourists will seek out a community’s downtown shopping district (DSD) because of its unique shopping and dining, interesting historical aspects, and overall aesthetic appeal. Municipal politicians promote the enhancement and preservation of an economically strong DSD, for both residents and tourists.

Municipal and private association tourism marketers are typically committed to promoting the existing businesses, and may not be tasked to assess whether the business mix is, in fact, a strong draw for tourists. Such analyses are often the purview of others, usually within city hall, or occasionally a community business entity (BIAs / DIAs, chambers of commerce, etc.). Often, though, such an analysis is not done, leaving marketers to promote a downtown that might lack touristic appeal.

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The “how” of developing clusters

City view.

By Ed Morrison

We have known about clusters as a “driver” of economic development for at least twenty years. Yet, the practice of how we build clusters is only now emerging. The reason is simple: the process of building clusters is exceedingly complex, and it has taken us time to discover the simple rules needed to guide the process.

These simple rules involve a combination of tools, frameworks, skills and protocols that can be learned. To make the process understandable, we look at four dimensions:

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Digital Nomads: Coming to a Community Near You

A young professional working from a coffee shop.

By Karolyn Hart

Digital Nomad. The first time I heard the term was two years ago when a sibling announced they were going to become one.  What exactly are digital nomads? Well, according to the Instagram posts I follow – they are professionals, with no fixed address, working from the most lovely locations around the globe, and seem to have a healthy obsession with carefully crafted and designed lattes.  From what I see, their obsession with local coffee is only matched by their maniacal pursuit of finding a stable Wi-Fi location.   (Google digital nomad coffee and you will see what I mean about their love of coffee.)

Yes, you read that correctly.  They have no fixed address and they are professionals.

The official Wikipedia and Reddit definition of a digital nomad is that they “are individuals who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers typically work remotely—from home, coffee shops, public libraries, and even recreational vehicles—to accomplish tasks and goals that traditionally took place in a single, stationary workplace.”

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No tipping allowed: Restaurant pays a living wage

Restaurant in Owen Sound paying a living-wage.

By David Clark

A new restaurant opened recently in the small, rural town of Owen Sound (population 22,000) which is located in southwestern Ontario, Canada, and no tipping is allowed. Some diners have, though, tipped anyway. The owner of the Avalon Jazz Lounge & Patio, Gary Murphy, pays an hourly wage of almost $15.00, higher than the Province of Ontario’s general minimum wage of $11.25, although for employees who directly serve alcohol in licenced establishments, as is the case with the Avalon, the minimum is $9.80.

Murphy decided to pay a “living wage”, also known as a “fair wage” because “it’s the right thing to do”, according to the Owen Sound Sun Times newspaper. According to livingwagecanada.ca, a “living wage sets a higher test – a living wage reflects what earners in a family need to bring home based on the actual costs of living in a specific community.” This means it is community-specific, so that the same job being done in a large urban community where housing costs are higher, for example Toronto, could be paid a higher living wage.

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Richard Florida’s Creative Class: Why creativity is the new economy and what it means for YOUR community

People walking on the street.

By James Umpherson

Richard Florida’s idea of the “creative class” as the foundation for the “new economy” represents his raison d’être for the next economic age of development. Over the past 10-years or so, his idea of creativity has been the lightening rode for policy makers to make changes and for academics to critique and evaluate. Regardless of the position expressed by either the policy makers or academics, there is one thing that is clear: his idea of a “creative class” as the engine for economic development, growth, and diversity has given rise to a lively debate on where and how our living spaces, our communities, and our economies will evolve, unfold, and, potentially, prosper.

Before we continue, it’s important to understand the “creative class” concept. This concept provides the foundation for understanding the implications within the broader framework of social capital and, according to Florida, the rise of the creative economy. When we think of the “creative class”, we think of cultural industries, the arts, industries that we identify with as being “creative”. While these are a component of the “creative class”, the people make up a broader range of industries:

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