Thursday, April 2, 2009

Innovation, Access to Capital, Workforce Top Agenda at Creative Economy Council

At our second meeting of the Governor's Creative Economy Council, Jason Schupbach, Creative Economy Industry Director, reviewed the legislated purpose of the group: to develop a statewide strategy for the enhancement, encouragement, and growth of the creative economy in MA, and to promote responsive public policies and private sector practices.

Issues discussed dovetailed with those on the minds of CEOs in our Digital Gaming Cluster (formerly video game cluster), which sits squarely within the Creative Economy. Relevant issues included access to capital, innovation, and workforce development. Governor Patrick has put Massachusetts in the lead by being the first to establish a state-wide Creative Economy Initiative.

Speaking about entrepreneurship, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki, noted that there are two kinds of entrepreneurship -- "entrepreneurship by opportunity" where an entrepreneur chooses to leave a job or starts a venture on the side of his or her job; and "entrepreneurship by necessity" where someone loses a job and then decides to start a company. Given the current economic climate, he noted that this is a very good time for entrepreneurship and that now is the very time to connect entrepreneurs with capital.

The Secretary's remarks echo those of Bill Warner at our 2008 Innovation unConference and many others in the Council's entrepreneurial community. The number one concern on the minds of Digital Gaming CEOs, reflecting the early stage of companies in this sector, is access to capital, according to preliminary results of a MassTLC survey of companies in this sector.

There was discussion about both branding the Creative Economy and backing up the brand with specific policies that support the local ecosystem. The Secretary noted that, since we will not likely win as the region to give the most incentives, the Commonwealth should compete on innovation, quality of workforce, diversity of great industries, and other substantive measures.

Echoing the number two issue expressed by our Digital Gaming CEOs, the Secretary noted that an immediate task is to convince local students to stay in Massachusetts and work here, and to convince students to select careers that map to sectors in our local Innovation Economy -- ie, creative industries, information technology, and other key industries. Bucking conventional industries, the Digital Gaming Cluster companies expect employment to increase close to 19% in 2009, according to preliminary results of a MassTLC survey of companies in this sector.

The meeting ended with Q&A from the public. There was some concern that individual artists might not have a voice in policy recommendations made by the Creative Economy Council. It was noted that, in addition to participating at the public meetings, people in the creative economy are represented by the organizations serving on the Creative Economy Council, and that the public at large is invited to join the dialogue directly by posting comments on the Creative Economy blog once it is established.

1 comment:

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