- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2003

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — New York has it. So do Boston, San Francisco and Austin, Texas — the kind of magnetism that attracts creative young adults who make a region’s economy hum.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, is pushing a “Cool Cities” initiative to make people want to live, work and shop in Michigan’s cities.

“Cool cities mean hot jobs,” Michigan’s 43-year-old freshman governor said at the Digital Detroit conference on Wednesday.

She launched the project last month, after a Census Bureau report that listed metropolitan Detroit as first in the nation between 2000 and 2002 in the flight of young adults.

The report said 33,371 people ages 25-34 — one of every 20 in that group — moved away in those two years.

“When young people leave Michigan, they take their talent, entrepreneurial spirit and job skills with them,” Mrs. Granholm said. “How is it that we can make a magnet for that kind of work force?”

The answer, Mrs. Granholm said, is to create cool cities around the state.

Cool cities are places where people with talent and imagination can find work, along with rich cultural, social and recreational opportunities — ingredients for a quality lifestyle, the governor said.

In other words, places like Austin, Texas.

Home to the University of Texas, the state’s capital is the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world.”

Nature lovers can enjoy the downtown Town Lake surrounded by a 10-mile running and bike trail or head for the nearby Texas hill country, with its climbing, hiking and other recreational options.

Austin rode the high-tech boom of the 1990s, then took a hit with the tech collapse. But even as the jobless rate rose from 1.9 percent to 5.6 percent, many chose to wait out the recession, rather than pack and leave.

What Austin has and Detroit wants is to follow a formula laid out by economist Richard Florida in his 2002 book “The Rise of the Creative Class.”

The 38 million members of this class make up 30 percent of the U.S. work force and hold the key to the nation’s economic future, the Carnegie Mellon University professor said.

Mr. Florida said that many creative class members consider recreation, culture and ethnic diversity as central to where they move or stay.

“Many said they had turned down jobs, or decided not to look for them, in places that did not afford the variety of ‘scenes’ they desired — the music scene, the art scene, technology scene, outdoor sports and so on,” he wrote.

For Detroit boosters, that means fostering and publicizing its musical creativity, from the Motown sound of the 1960s to its place as the techno music capital today, officials said.

In recent years, suburban Ferndale’s Nine Mile Road strip shopping district has sprouted with coffee houses, clubs and music stores.

Typical is Xhedos Cafe, with its outdoor seating and an indoor stage that features a nightly open mike for poets, singers and guitarists.

“It’s nice to work here,” said staffer Kevin Peyok, 30, of Detroit. “I think it’s a pretty cool place.”

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