The Red Wing Creative Economy Project


This past summer was preoccupied with generating The Red Wing Creative Economy Project final report (download the pdf).

The Red Wing Creative Economy Project is an ambitious effort to measure and contrast the local creative economy and make specific recommendations going forward.

Here is how the report flows:

The challenge begins with the definition of the term 'creative economy'. This alone is open to many definitions and can be argued in many directions.

The research committee opted for a simple definition that included any occupation that has a fundamental need to include creativity.  This includes artists, engineers, architects and entrepreneurs.

Once a definition is in place, then the report discusses in detail why the creative economy is important to the overall local economy.  It pretty much boils down t:

1) the creative economy is growing faster than the rest of the economy.

2) this part of the economy is attractive to a mobile and tech-savvy workforce.

3) Red wing has many natural amenities that are valued by members of the creative economy.

This establishes the 'who', 'what and 'why' of the final report.


One of the reasons this report especially makes sense for the Red Wing community is because the Red Wing community has a rich history of creativity in the economy. 

From the Red Wing pottery industries to the Anderson Center at Tower View to the City Beautiful urban planning within the core downtown, creativity is in the Red Wing DNA and is a legitimate economic engine.


The front end of the report is a numbers-driven analysis.  This includes an occupational headcount that is measured as a ratio of the creative economy headcount versus the overall occupational headcount. 

This ratio is known as the creative index.

This is mapped at the national, regional and local levels and patterns are identified.


Once the hard-core counting was finished (which is important to establish report credibility) the fun could begin.

Site visits in the immediate region were visited with the specific purpose of learning of how effective other creative economy efforts have been in other communities.

Sites were selected based on economic or cultural similarities or because of an especially unique creative economy initiative.


Minneapolis has an especially strong creative economy and much of it can be attributed to deliberate creative placemaking efforts.  The Loft Literary Center and Open Book are two excellent examples.


Grand Marias, MN also has an especially creative index, especially for a rural community.  Grand Marias is deliberately focused on 'quiet' tourism and hand-crafed arts.

The project is fairly conclusive.  The goal was to create a defensible document that will intitiate a dialogue.  Download your copy and please provide your feedback.