Phase II: Building the Physical Community

Continuing this week’s focus on the CoolTown Program

Phase II: Building the Physical Community

Successful talent attraction comes down to providing three key elements: Entertainment, jobs and affordability, in that order. Fulfilling just one, or even two elements won’t make it happen. All three must be brought together, and that requires building a CoolTown.

Why is entertainment (& arts) first? Most young professionals won’t take a dream job if it were in a small farm town, while the exorbitant rents of Manhattan and San Francisco don’t stop dreamy-eyed actors and drifters from becoming permanent residents. Besides, they subconsciously know that jobs follow entertainment (e.g. dating opportunities, nightlife, music, recreation) because companies follow talent. Affordability is the secret ingredient that unbuckles the restraints on unparalleled economic growth.

1. Entertainment!
As we evolve from a service economy to an experience economy, entertainment with the arts becomes the unique selling point, from the dynamic (night-life, music, recreation) to the mundane (residence, workplace). Today’s creatives expect more than a home and job, they want a neighborhood experience and a workplace performance. This 24-hour arts & entertainment experience (Experience A&E) in one’s daily home and work life is the secret driving force behind the traditional night/weekend scene that baby boomers associate with A&E. See the program for implementation principles.

2. Jobs!
Work knows cool. Corporate workplaces are moving back to the city, office parks are reporting high vacancies and 47 million people telework to some degree. There are 33 million “free agents” in the workforce today, and among them are the next Bill Gates and Steve Jobs that can attract both creativity and economic prosperity to your city. See the program for implementation principles.

3. Affordability!
A Builder Magazine survey concluded that Gen Xers/Yers can’t spend more than $150,000 for a home. Creatives and entrepreneurs have similar budgets. It also stated that the demand overwhelmingly exceeds the supply in reaching this price point in the inner city, where the best entertainment is. Creatives prioritize smaller places with low maintenance, will move into riskier areas to save rent, and actually prefer not owning a car if jobs/amenities are convenient (e.g. NY, SF). Car debt subtracts about $50,000 from the amount of a home one can quality for. See the program for implementation principles.

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