April 18, 2014

Workshop will look toward ‘creative economies’

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Building a creative economy in Southern Illinois is the focus of an April 29 symposium sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. 

The event will include experts on campus-community engagement, collaborative strategies for talent-retention and community-based regional development, and examples of successful economic development that involve university communities.  David Yepsen, institute director, said it is important to not overlook creative economic industries including education, advertising, architecture arts, crafts and writers. 

“If you make your community attractive to creative people, such as writers, artists and people who process information, then you will have spin-off growth.  It makes the general economy better for everyone,” he said. 

“Many people have done a lot of work in Southern Illinois trying to fix the economy,” he said.  “That’s good.  What we are looking at here is adding something new to the mix and making sure we are doing everything we can to make Southern Illinois attractive to creative people.” 

The symposium, which is free, is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carbondale Civic Center, 200 S. Illinois Ave. Lunch is included but advance registration is required for meal considerations.  The registration deadline for lunch is Friday, April 25. To register, contact Carol Greenlee, institute project coordinator, at 618/453-4078 or by email at rsvp@paulsimoninstitute.org

A full agenda is available at www.paulsimoninstitute.org

The keynote speakers include Sean Creighton of The Creative Class Group and executive director of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, who will discuss how transforming areas into creative economies works, Yepsen said. Jim Zumwalt, the former city manager in Paducah, Ky., will discuss bringing cultural events to that community, and May Zumwalt, the former executive director of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah will talk about mechanisms for building cultural attractions in communities. 

Economic development needs to be all encompassing to succeed, Yepsen said. 

“It’s great to have TIF (tax increment financing) districts and create manufacturing and industrial parks.  This is another piece,” he said. 

SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng will provide a welcome address.  The morning panel includes Du Quoin Mayor Rex Duncan, director of the Office of Economic and Regional Development at SIU and affiliated with Connect SI, an economic and community development initiative for the 20 southernmost counties in the region, and Kyle L. Harfst, executive director of the Southern Illinois Research Park, Inc. 

The afternoon panel, which includes School of Architecture faculty Craig Anz and Jon Davey and J. Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business, will present an overview of the symposium outcome, what needs to be done and the university’s role and perspective, Yepsen said. 

Also, Charles Leonard, an institute visiting professor, will also provide perspective into polls on people’s perspectives of quality of life, including a new poll of Jackson and Williamson county residents recently conducted for the institute by the survey research office of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield. 

The poll asked respondents their attitudes on a variety of issues including local education, the environment, public safety, the economy, health, culture and recreation, infrastructure and government and civic participation.  A breakfast briefing on that specific poll, by the center’s director Ashley Kirzinger, will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, at John A. Logan College, H Building, Room H127.  To register for that specific breakfast, contact Greenlee by noon, Monday, April 21. 

The polls will dovetail nicely with the creative economy workshop’s objectives, Yepsen said.