'A lot of opportunity' for area creative economyRed Wing is well situated to tap into a sector of the economy that depends on creative and entrepreneurial endeavors, according to the Red Wing Creative Economy Project.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing is well situated to tap into a sector of the economy that depends on creative and entrepreneurial endeavors, according to the Red Wing Creative Economy Project.
The group was one of three funded by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation following the January Idea Slam event. It started with a number of different proposals that merged into a study of the area’s creative economy and comparing it to other communities.
“Our project was an open-ended project. We weren’t really sure what to expect (at first),” member John Becker said. “It took us a few weeks to find a rhythm.”
But eventually the group landed on its goal and produced a nearly 40-page report.
“What we were trying to do is really just get a handle on what the local creative economy is, how strong it might be and how it compares to other communities,” Becker said.
The group also listed a number of suggestions for moving Red Wing’s creative economy forward. Those included utilizing Red Wing’s natural and cultural assets, empowering area artists, encouraging creativity and risk, aiming to put Red Wing’s creative economy among the top 10 in the Midwest within the next five years and finding ways to measure the creative economy.
“A lot like the Downtown Action Plan or the mayor’s Blue Ribbon report, it really is meant to kind of initiate a dialogue and get people thinking about this kind of thing,” Becker said. “Hopefully somebody will grab it and run with it.”
To flesh out the report, group members researched literature, studies and other academic pieces related to the creative economy, especially in rural areas, Becker said.
“That gave us the analytical research we were looking for to kind of put a number on this thing,” Becker said. “We wanted to complement that with some observational research.”
So members traveled to a number of different communities throughout the Midwest to find anecdotal and practical examples of how creative economies are functioning.
Metro cities and those with universities have obvious advantages, Becker said. But those non-metro cities that really thrive tend to have “significant natural amenities,” he said, especially water-based.
“It looks like there’s a lot of opportunity for the Red Wing area,” he said.
Becker said along with its natural assets, Red Wing’s fiber connection will encourage people to come here and “bring their skills and talents with them.”
The group also held a public discussion last month about the creative economy, and Becker said he hopes the conversations will continue beyond the report’s release.
The Red Wing Creative Economy study group received $4,000 from SMIF. The group also had financial help from groups including the Anderson Center, Downtown Main Street, the Sheldon Theatre, Red Wing Arts Association, ArtReach, Red Wing Framing and the city.
“One of the things really interesting about this whole process was the diversity of all the groups involved,” Becker said. “They represent really strong cultural assets in the community but we’ve never really all sat down and worked on something like this.”
Overall, the group accomplished what it had hoped, Becker said.
“I’m really proud of the fact that we finished the project on time and at budget,” he said. “So mission accomplished, really.”
Editor’s note: This is the second of three stories about the projects awarded Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation funds after January’s Idea Slam.
Sept. 8: Red Wing app
Today: Creative Economy
Sept. 15: Friends of the Bluffs