In this issue: Mapping the world's cultural and creative industries, a look at global well-being in 2015, a new community engagement guide, a report on 21st century industrial renewal, and details on Ontario's Cluster Development Seed Fund.   No Images? Click here
Hot air balloons against a blue sky

How was life around the world in 2015? 

“Are our lives getting better? How can policies improve our lives? Are we measuring the right things?” These are the questions the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) seeks to answer with its Better Life Index and How’s Life? report.

How’s Life? 2015 is the third edition of the report. As with previous editions, it looks at how the 34 OECD countries (and some emerging economies) stack up in 11 dimensions, including housing, income and wealth, personal security, environmental quality, and work-life balance. The study finds, as expected, that there’s a strong correlation between GDP and life satisfaction, but that wealthier countries have plenty of opportunity for improvement. Overall, Canada and the United States rank sixth and seventh respectively.

As well as measuring current well-being, How’s Life? explores the resources and trends that will shape future well-being, including natural resources, human resources, economic resources, and social resources. Trends include rising long-term unemployment, rising obesity rates, and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. 

Along with the full report, the OECD’s Better Life Index provides an interactive way for people to explore what well-being and a better life mean for them by weighting the 11 dimensions measured by How’s Life? and comparing how countries perform. 

By providing better data, and a deeper understanding of well-being, the OECD aims to support the development of policies that enhance well-being around the world. 

Tablet and keyboard on a desk

The first ever global map of cultural and creative industries

Compared to more traditional industries, Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) are often only partially described and generally misunderstood or undervalued, creating challenges in understanding their economic weight in both mature and emerging economies.

To address this, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) recently commissioned EY to complete a global study of the economic and social impact of CCI that builds on UNESCO's definition of CCI. 

The study, Cultural Times: The First Global Map of Cultural and Creative Industries, highlights that CCI generate US$2,250 billion of revenues (3% of world GDP) and 29.5 million jobs at the global level. It identifies North America as having the third largest CCI behind Europe and the Asia-Pacific, with revenues of US $620 billion (28% of global revenues) and 4.7 million jobs (16% of total jobs). In general terms, the North American market is driven by leading cultural and entertainment players in areas of TV, movies and radio; however, Canada was singled out as an international benchmark for game development, as well as its commitment and success in the music industry. Canada and the US are seen as being at the forefront of CCI’s digital transformation with the largest number of consumers of digital cultural content.

The report also evaluates the impact of cultural and creative workers. For economic development professionals focused on how to support the growth and expansion of their local economies, there are a number of qualities that speak to the value of attracting and retaining CCI business investment. CCI are also seen as playing a significant role in the urban development or place-making of cities and towns. Collectively and individually these activities are seen as the components necessary for forging both a local and global identity for a community that in turn attracts the investment, workers and visitors needed to sustain economic growth.


Survey invitation

Please take a few minutes to complete a survey on the establishment of a pan-Canadian, grassroots forum that will build workforce development capacity and effectiveness at the local, regional, provincial and national levels. A Canadian Workforce Development Forum would connect people and jobs in a way that strengthens economic competitiveness and quality of life for all communities. 

Eddie Friel

Company Corner

MDB Insight welcomes Dr. Eddie Friel OBE

Dr. Eddie Friel OBE has joined the MDB Insight team as Director Europe, UK and Ireland. 

Eddie brings more than 40 years of experience in tourism and economic development to his work. He has helped communities around the world to use cultural assets as economic drivers. As an expert in business development and investment attraction, he has advised communities in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Europe and China on economic development issues.

Eddie has served as a senior executive with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, where he secured record numbers of tourist visits. As the first Chief Executive of the Greater Glasgow Tourist Board in Scotland, Eddie spearheaded a strategy to use cultural tourism to drive the city’s economic regeneration. This work transformed Glasgow into a major global city and led to the city being named the Cultural Capital of Europe in 1990.

Prior to joining MDB Insight, Eddie served as the Expert in Residence at the Hospitality Research Center at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, New York, where he contributed to work identifying Buffalo’s competitive strengths as a city of architecture and design.

Eddie has served as the Chairman and President of the Niagara Experience Center in Niagara Falls, New York. He was instrumental in establishing the Niagara Global Tourism Institute as the focus of leadership of the tourism industry in Upstate New York. He has also served on the Board of Directors of Advancing Arts and Culture, established through the support of the John R Oishei, Margaret L Wendt and Baird Foundations to address the opportunities presented by cultural tourism in the Buffalo Niagara region. 

Born in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Eddie has lived in Dublin, Southampton, London, New York and Niagara Falls. He currently lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He continues to serve on the boards of a variety of arts organizations and has been a regular broadcaster and writer on tourism and the arts. He has won many awards and was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List.

Piggy bank wearing glasses

The Bottom Line

Cluster Development Seed Fund

The Province of Ontario has partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to launch a new fund to support the development of globally competitive clusters across Ontario. The Fund offers grants of up to $100,000 to support research and feasibility studies or networking activities that will contribute to the growth of more competitive clusters. At least 50 percent of matching funds for each project must be provided by private sector industry partner(s). Find out more about the Fund and if your organization is eligible to applyThe application deadline is March 1st, 2016.

Workers taking a break in a courtyard

The changing face of community engagement

Engaging with the public in meaningful and effective ways as a municipality, government representative, or economic development practitioner can be difficult at times. As a result, new dynamic and innovative engagement strategies are emerging to keep citizens interested in public engagement processes, ranging from online interactive municipal budget allocation tools, Twitter Town Halls, sounding boards located in high-use public areas, and citizens’ reference panels. These techniques are helping to move engagement beyond “informing” and “consulting” with the public towards “involving”, “collaborating”, and “empowering” community members (see the "spectrum of public participation” for more information).

In an effort to share their own inclusive methodologies on how to build capacity in communities through public participation, the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre (MUEC) recently released its guide Participatory Urban Planning: Planning the city with and for its citizens (hard copies in English and French are available in the MUEC online store).

Highlighting its six-step participatory planning process, MUEC stresses the importance of including citizens throughout the entire life cycle of a project, allowing public debate to shape the plan. The six steps are accompanied by examples of participatory activities, including activities such as an exploratory walk that helps to identify specific issues in a location, scenario validation workshops that prioritize planning solutions, and design workshops that can provide community members who are often excluded from design discussions with tools to participate in a meaningful way.

At the end of the day, MUEC’s six-step participatory planning process encourages celebration of the positive changes that public engagement can bring to communities and recognition of the role that citizens had in transforming their community.

City street at twilight

Industrial renewal in the 21st century

In 1939, Joseph Schumpeter coined the term “creative destruction” to describe the process of economic development that destroys an existing economic structure and creates a new one in its place. A new University of Oxford study, Industrial Renewal in the 21st Century, examines the appearance of new industries in the US economy between 2000 and 2010 as a result of recent technological advances.

The authors found that cities with an above-average supply of university-educated workers also had a higher percentage of workers employed in new industries. In San Jose, for example, 1.8% of workers are employed in new industries compared to 0.2% in Grand Rapids. Importantly, the study found that while the presence of universities is positively related to the appearance of new industries, their presence leaves the link between local human capital and new industries largely unaffected. Essentially, while universities create highly-educated workers, they don't necessarily keep these workers in their communities. This places the emphasis on a city’s ability to attract skilled workers as having a greater impact on the local growth of emerging industries.

While these high-tech industries are becoming increasingly important pillars of the 21st economy, they only accounted for 0.5% of the American labour force in 2010 according to the study. The potential result of these new industries employing fewer workers according to one study is a net loss of 9.1 million jobs over the next ten years in the United States. In comparison, an article in the McKinsey Quarterly suggests that rather than full-scale worker replacement, workers will increasingly adapt new technologies. More specifically, it suggests that as many as 45% of the activities individuals are to perform could be automated by existing technologies. For economic development and workforce development professionals, these findings raise important questions about how to nurture new high-tech industries and the impact of these industries on the workforce in the future.  


Out & About


Trudy Parsons will be speaking at the Cannexus National Career Development Conference taking place in Ottawa, ON, from January 25th to 27th. Workforce development is taking centre stage at Cannexus this year, including a Workforce Development Panel discussion on January 27th and a Workforce Development Zone (sponsored by Canadian Workforce Development Forum in partnership with MDB Insight and the National Association of Workforce Boards) where delegates can engage with organizations to learn more about best practices. 


Lauren Millier, Paul Blais and Brock Dickinson will be attending the 2016 Economic Developers Council of Ontario Conference taking place in Toronto from February 2nd to 4th. On February 4th, Paul will be facilitating a Town Hall on "Transforming your Communities through Discovery Communities with Populations from 25,000 to 200,000."


Trudy Parsons will be attending the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) Forum taking place in Washington D.C. from March 12th-15th.


Paul Blais will be attending the 2016 Economic Developers Alberta Conference in Kananaskis from April 6th to 8th. 


Paul Blais will be speaking at the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association Conference taking place in Swift Current from May 31st to June 2nd. 

MDB Insight Employment Development Map December 2015

Employment Development Index

December 2015

Our Employment Development Index is a visual representation of changes in regional employment figures over time. Visit the Employment Development Index archives for previous editions.


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