The Importance of Cities Finding Their Cultural Matches

Dewar’s Profile of Jerry Orbach, via The Hip Flask.

My latest column is now online from the July issue of Governing magazine. It’s called “The Importance of Cities Finding Their Cultural Match” and talks about how cities, like companies, have their own culture. And just as workers and firms need to have a cultural match, the same is true of cities and their prospective residents. Here’s an excerpt:

Economic development consultant Rod Stevens has suggested that communities could start unearthing and articulating their culture by creating “Dewar’s Profiles” of the kinds of people who are flourishing there. He took this idea from an old advertising campaign for Dewar’s scotch, in which the company ran full-page print ads featuring the creative, stylish, interesting people who enjoyed its product — fashion designers, wildlife conservationists and even lion tamers.

In repurposing a whisky ad as an economic development tool, the idea is to build profiles of the kinds of people who are succeeding in a community — high-impact entrepreneurs, for example, or community development people or civic leaders — and try to figure out what the common traits and experiences are that made them such successes there.

This isn’t just about collecting a matrix of data points, though it could include that. It’s also to tell the story of those people. How did they get to be where they are? How did they end up in the community? What experiences shaped them and helped them to succeed?

Click through to read the whole thing.

from Aaron M. Renn


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