An article in the current issue of Wired Magazine highlights how research from the Martin Prosperity Institute in Toronto has found a number of smaller cities that are successfully attracting knowledge workers, entrepreneurs and other imaginative and creative workers based on the philosophy that “Livable cities draw creative people and creative people spawn jobs.”
While the article focuses on Omaha, Nebraska, it is interesting to note that Lowell is among the cities cited as examples of this trend. This national recognition is validation of a key component of the City’s economic development strategy that has been in place since the City Council adopted the Comprehensive Master Plan in 2003. The Master Plan’s introduction included the following observation:
There are two major trends that Lowell has the potential to capitalize on during the next 20 years. First, after decades of large-scale out-migration from urban centers, Americans from a wide range of backgrounds have begun to once again recognize the vitality and energy of cities and embrace them as unique and desirable places to live. Secondly, as the nation’s economy has become increasingly driven by service and knowledge-based industries, corporate location decisions are being driven primarily by access to creative and educated employees who can adapt to today’s ever changing work environments. These Creative Class individuals that employers are seeking tend to live in communities that are diverse, lively, possess unique character, and offer a wealth of opportunities for a high quality of life.
Lowell’s renaissance of the past 25 years has enabled the City to preserve and enhance these very qualities in the community, and the master planning process is designed to build upon the momentum caused by recent revitalization efforts. DPD is launching the public phase of the update to the Master Plan on June 20th. Many circumstances have changed over the past decade and the updated plan will address those changes. However, it is likely that the focus on urban livability should remain a key underpinning for the City’s ongoing economic development efforts.