ARLINGTON - Two world-renowned economic development
experts are coming to The University of Texas at Arlington with plans to make
North Texas their urban and economic development laboratory.
Richard Florida, Director of the Martin
Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto founder of the Creative Class
Group, a global advisory services firm, and Steven Pedigo, director of Research
and Communities for the Creative Class Group, join UT Arlington as visiting
scholars in the School of Urban and Public Affairs during the next two years.
Florida is the best-selling author of
the 2005 book “The Rise of the Creative Class,” 2008’s “Who’s Your City: How
the Creative Economy is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of
Your Life,” and his 2010 release, “The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and
Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity.” Florida was among the most popular
lecturers featured in UT Arlington’s 2009-2010 Maverick Speakers Series.
Florida and Pedigo will visit North
Texas next week, with stops planned in Fort Worth, downtown Arlington and parts
of Dallas and the Oak Cliff community in southwestern Dallas.
Florida’s central theory is that
prosperous communities capitalize on talent, tolerance and technology. His
Creative Communities Leadership Project aims to give leaders the tools they
need to generate greater economic prosperity in their region. Among the clients
of The Creative Class Group are the cities of Roanoke, Va.; Charlotte, N.C.; El
Paso; Tacoma, Wash.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Toronto and Ontario, Can.
“North Texas is one of the
fastest-growing areas in the country and it’s been left relatively unscathed
from the economic turmoil that much of the rest of the country has endured,”
Florida said. “UT Arlington has played a significant role in helping the region
sidestep some of those economic pitfalls.”
Florida and Pedigo plan to collaborate
with UT Arlington faculty, researchers and students, as well as regional
leaders, to identify a series of research initiatives, which the local
community can launch. The goal of the selected initiatives will be to leverage
the existing assets and talents in North Texas to move the community forward.
“We hope to provide the UT Arlington
the framework and tools to build upon the assets and talents that North Texas
already has in its backyard,” Florida explained.
UT Arlington President James D.
Spaniolo said Florida’s team will add national prominence to the School of
Urban and Public Affairs, which has been recognized as one of the nation’s best
graduate public affairs programs by U.S. News and World Report.
“Richard Florida is one of the most
exciting economic development thinkers of our generation,” Spaniolo said. “His
theories of the kind of creativity it takes to build great cities and regions
fit exactly with our University’s mission. We are honored that he is bringing
his Creative Class approach to our institution and region.”
Florida’s latest book provides a
sweeping examination of previous economic “resets” of the 1870s and 1920s.
Florida identifies the patterns that will drive the next Great Reset – from how
and where we live to how we work, how we invest in individuals and
infrastructure and how we shape our cities and regions.
Florida contends that these “resets”
can spur new eras of growth and prosperity.
Pedigo also serves as director of the
Creative Class Leadership Program, a worldwide community engagement program. He
has successfully launched programs in communities from El Paso to Vancouver,
B.C., and Noosa, Australia.
Barbara Becker, dean of the UT
Arlington School of Urban and Public Affairs, said the visiting scholars
present great opportunities for students.
“Our students will have the opportunity
to understand the theories and tools that move the region forward,” Becker
said. “They’ll be involved in something transformative, something that will
have a huge impact on our students and the community.”
Florida is director of the Martin
Prosperity Institute and professor of business and creativity at the Rotman
School of Management, University of Toronto. He has previously held
professorships at George Mason University and Carnegie Mellon University and
taught as a visiting professor at Harvard and MIT. Florida earned his
Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University.
Pedigo previously served as vice
president for business attraction and research for Greenlight Greater Portland,
a regional economic development organization for the Portland-Vancouver
metropolitan region. He holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas
at Austin and graduate degrees from the H. John Heinz III School for Public
Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.