September 24, 2014

Building a ‘creative’ economy is focus of lecture

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- One of the nation’s leading experts on the role of artists and other creative-based enterprises in a community’s economic development will present her ideas during a luncheon sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. 

Ann Markusen, director of the Arts Economy Initiative and the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will speak Wednesday, Oct. 1, as part of the institute’s “Building a Creative Economy in Southern Illinois” series. 

Markusen, the principal of Markusen Economic Research, is an adviser to public agencies, policymakers, businesses, economic developers and nonprofit organizations across the nation, in Europe, and several other countries. Her expertise is in economic development at the state and local levels. She is “one of the nation’s leading experts in this field of finding ways for communities to make themselves more attractive to creative economic industries and creative people,” David Yepsen, institute director said. 

“This is especially true for towns with universities. She is a perfect expert for people in the community to hear from,” he said. 

The luncheon, which is free, begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Carbondale Civic Center, 200 S. Illinois Ave.  Advance registration is required for meal considerations.  The registration deadline for lunch is Monday, Sept. 29. To register, contact Carol Greenlee, institute project coordinator, at 618/453-4078 or by email at

The event dovetails with a meeting later in the day that involves Carbondale’s Downtown Advisory Committee and development of a downtown master plan. The session is at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Health Center Auditorium, 374 E. Grand Ave., and is co-sponsored by the institute. The public meeting is one of a series to gather input for developing the city’s central business district; this session’s focus is on the interface of downtown with SIU Carbondale and Southern Illinois Healthcare. 

Yepsen said economic development opportunities are not limited only to getting a factory to move into town.  It is also important there are other economic development outlets, including education, arts, crafts and writers, to make a community attractive.  Carbondale is “really having a community-wide effort to build a creative economy,” he said. 

The institute, in collaboration with the SIU Alumni Association, is working to collect opinions from alumni on their attitudes toward Carbondale, the community and what alumni believe is needed, Yepsen said. 

More information on the Oct. 1 program is available at