Global Austins are cities around the world that, like Austin, generate technology as well as talent, along with the culture, entertainment and quality of life to retain them. The term was coined in Richard Florida’s new book, The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent.
As stated in the previous blog, the key is to understand the creative neighborhoods that catalyzed these cities and not to worship the city in its entirety, especially when it comes to placemaking/urban fabric. With that in mind, here’s Florida’s short list of Global Austins:
Dublin, Ireland – Ireland is the second largest software exporter after the U.S., and why are so many Fortune 500 high-tech companies moving there? One major reason is that these companies are going where the talent is, and that talent loves the 24/7 vibrancy of Dublin.
Singapore – Its government ‘gets it’ – and they’re investing heavily in universities, creative industries and arts and entertainment (see image). More and more people from the U.S. are finding work there.
Tel Aviv, Israel – Top science and technical universities fused with world-acclaimed nightlife, great restaurants, cafes, pubs and outdoor dining are making it a booming city.
Also on the list: Bangalore, India; Seoul, Korea; Taipei, Taiwan and Beijng, China are also leveraging their high-tech industries with arts and culture.
Do you know of any Global Austins? Please comment below…
I’m living in Beijing right now. I never bought Richard Florida’s argument in his first book – a number of articles showed cultural disasters like LV and Phoenix are just as good as luring workers – but this is more ridiculous. Beijing is not at all a great cultural city. There are still political restrictions on press, a gay film festival at Beijing University was just cancelled by the government, nightlife is almost nonexistent, there are few great walking streets, you still get stared at if you’re not Asian, the traffic is as bad as anywhere in the world, etc, etc.. The reason Westerners have been lured to Beijing is because the pay is very, very good right now. Even within China, Westerners tend to prefer Shanghai, Kunming, and Hong Kong, but I wouldn’t compare any of those to a city like Dublin.
Incidentally, Dublin has lost some of its luster recently. The housing market is as expensive as Boston, Mass. It’s no longer at all cheap to live there, though at least taxes aren’t bad.
Kevin, thanks, we need more posts like yours from people who live in or have recently been to these places.
I agree that Dublin is fast becoming the victim of its own success. The question is, where’s the next Dublin in Ireland, or anywhere? That’d be great to hear from you on!
Re Beijing, it doesn’t sound too appealing based on your description. I can only provide an excerpt from Florida’s book since I haven’t been there: “The city’s Haidian district is a magnet for creative talent from all over China, with some forty universities and colleges, including the country’s two top universities, 138 research institutes, scores of high-tech ventures, and tens of thousands of scientists and engineers. Beijing is no longer a culturally monolithic town: far from it. The city is at the cultural leading edge, with thriving scenes in music, avant-garde film, video games, and animation.
I wouldn’t put LV (Las Vegas) and Phoenix on my list either, especially after I asked LV residents where the cultural hangouts were (surely there must be hidden neigborhoods) and they essentially said there really weren’t any.
Haidian is an interesting part of town – there are great universities, and a small bar district near the Foreign Languages University (catering to foreigners mostly), but that’s it. Understand that, by the reckoning of Shanghai Jiaotong University’s of the top global universities, the top two schools in China (Peking University and Tsinghua) are not top-200 global schools. Every student I know plans to study overseas if they have the chance, and there is very little degree-program draw for foreigners right now.
The area is somewhat of a concrete jungle, though. I would say it’s comparable to San Jose in the US, writ large, minus green space. China still is not a free society either, as I mentioned. There are limits for entrepreneurs, especially foreign, even now (my work actually concerns this area).
The vast majority of foreingers (aside from 1-term exchange students) live in Chaoyang District, not Haidian. Chaoyang is essentially a CBD/Embassy area with a number of Western shops (at Western prices to boot).
I don’t mention LV and Phoenix because they’re “cool towns” – only because they are certainly draw young people like me with their relatively cheap cost-of-living. Of course I prefer Boston to Phoenix, but do I like Boston enough to spend $2000/month on rent?
Good work with the site, keep it coming!
I can’t believe you don’t have DC as a 1st tier city. DC is the most powerful city on the planet. It is the modern day Rome or Athens of our time. Worldwide policies are influenced and created in DC. No other city has that much influence. Its not gonna have huge skyscrapers and manufacturing facilities like NY or Chicago, because it is a economy based on intellectual thought. Yes, i know that sounds a little ridiculous for DC, but come on you have to admit to that.
Hey Carlos, good point. It sounds like you’re referring to the previous blog. I live in DC myself and agree it has unquestionable worldwide influence in large part because it’s the nation’s capital. However, as the article states, the list of top cities was put together by economists focused on economic output rather than influence. The point of the article was that this was a good starting point for identifying some of the most creative, entrepreneurial neighborhoods in the world. I’m not sure there is a ranking of cities by influence, but by that measure I’d agree DC should be in the first tier.
As a resident of Austin for the last four years, I appreciate the positive aspects that this city has to offer. However, the notion of “global austins” as a metaphor is wrong, IMHO. As the Texas state capital, this town is also home to some of the most conservative, unworldly and short-sighted legislators (Texas State House and Senate) that this country has to offer. My point: every community has room for improvement, and Austin is no different.