UI research links creativity, economic growth in Iowa

A new study by a University of Iowa economics professor suggests that Iowa counties with a higher concentration of people who are part of the so-called "creative class" have stronger prospects for economic growth.

The study, by professor John Solow in the Tippie College of Business, ranks all of Iowa's 99 counties in a Creativity Index based on the one developed by economist Richard Florida. Perhaps not surprisingly, the top four counties are made up of Johnson and Story counties (home to the state's two largest universities) and Polk and Linn counties (home to Iowa's two largest metro areas and financial centers).

Most counties that scored on the lower half of the index, meanwhile, are rural and geographically isolated with small populations and an economic dependence on agriculture with the exception of Jefferson County. Jefferson County is the top ranking rural county in Iowa.

Richard Florida is the economist who has argued the U.S. economy is becoming a knowledge-based economy that will be driven by creative initiatives, and the people who will be most successful in that economy are people who work in creative professions. As a result, Florida argues those places that will fare best economically are the places that are most attractive to creative people.

Using Florida's model, Solow ranked each of Iowa's 99 counties to create an Iowa Creativity Index. Solow has an ongoing research interest in Florida's Creativity Index theories and he compiled the Iowa Index for a paper still in progress.

The top 10 counties on the Iowa Creativity Index are Johnson, Story, Linn, Polk, Scott, Jefferson, Black Hawk, Dallas, Jasper and Woodbury.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500