The Creative Economy Initiative

The Salem Partnership and the Enterprise Center at Salem State University initiated the Creative Economy Initiative on the North Shore in 2004. It was and still is our belief that this segment of the Massachusetts economy is a powerful economic engine for our region and it is the consensus of all involved that this has been a most successful undertaking. See achieved goals under “current projects” elsewhere on this page.

The Salem Partnership and the Enterprise Center at Salem State University have now entered into a collaborative agreement with Montserrat College of Art to move this initiative forward on a larger scale. The goal now is to grow existing creative economy companies, initiate new ones and to act as an economic catalyst between big businesses and entrepreneurs in the creative economy industry.

Charles Landry, author of The Creative City, A Toolkit for Urban Innovation

The North Shore, with Salem at its center, is a thriving region for the creative economy outside of Boston. It is well documented that creative economy workers want to live in an area of great amenities, ocean, history, museums, culture, good restaurants and recreation opportunities as well as conveniences such as location and value for their money. It is a well known fact that the North Shore has more amenities than any other area of Massachusetts outside of Boston. We know that the creative economy is an important part of the economy North of Boston (2% of the region's overall business activity). Our challenge and opportunity is to make this important segment of regional commerce grow bigger.

The Enterprise Center at Salem State College, together with The Salem Partnership, put together a Task Force on the Creative Economy in 2003. The goal was to make the creative economy an engine for economic development in this region. To this end, in 2004, the Lawrence Eagle Tribune provided us with extensive demographic information about the size and shape of the creative economy in our area. They found, for instance, that in 2003, $1.258 billion came from nearly 1000 creative economy businesses with approximately 6000 employees. Half of whom were clustered in a three-mile radius around Salem. To see the entire study, click here.

To accelerate the process of promoting and growing the creative economy, we invited Charles Landry, author of "The Creative City, A Toolkit for Urban Innovation," who met with business, cultural, tourism and government leaders in the lower North Shore - Beverly, Lynn, Peabody, Salem and Marblehead. Mr. Landry is an international expert on helping cities worldwide use culture and history to promote economic development and greater livability. His goal was to help us construct an action plan to bring more creative economy workers and businesses to this area. He spent four days in Salem, touring the area, meeting with groups and individuals, conducted a day workshop for 40 invited people at the Enterprise Center at Salem State College and presented his recommendations at the 2004 Annual Dinner of The Salem Partnership.

To see Mr. Landry's presentation at The Salem Partnership's Annual Dinner, please click here. (ppt)

At the end of his stay in Salem, Charles Landry recommended the following strategic plan:

"You have both already put the idea of the creative economy on the map and the initial research is very helpful in putting forward the advocacy case. In my view, and I know you already have this in mind; there should be a 12-month plan with a set of milestones that every three months has something new to say, but within a strategic framework. The overarching goal is to make the region a creative hub that has a distinct identity separate from Boston but that also is complimentary to it."

Below are some of Mr. Landry's specific suggestions.

  1. The research needs to be deepened so that we understand the dynamics of the creative economy in the region. For example, is it growing and, if so, by how much? Where are the companies trading? Locally, regionally, nationally, internationally? Do they think they will grow? Why did they move to the region? What are the benefits and problems?
  2. Assessing how the educational curriculum aligns to the needs of the creative economy.
  3. The end 12-month target might be to do a creative clusters conference.

We took his advice and some of the outcomes have been:

  1. Establishment of a "hotzone" in downtown Salem.
  2. Creation of a creative economy incubator within the Salem State Enterprise Center.
  3. 7 focus groups (72 members of the Creative Economy) were held from September through November 2004 to deepen the research as suggested by Mr. Landry. The focus groups' final report is as follows: To view the report, click here.

On June 20, 2005, The Creative Economy Association of the North Shore (CEANS) was launched at the Hawthorne Hotel with approximately 250 people in attendance. The goals of this trade association are:

  1. To encourage new Creative Economy Businesses to open on the North Shore.
  2. To attract and encourage private and public investors in Creative Economy companies.
  3. To conduct research to define and measure the Creative Economy in more depth.
  4. To encourage cooperative efforts among Creative Economy businesses.
  5. To provide educational and support programs directed to the needs of Creative Economy businesses.
  6. To educate the public and the business community about Creative Economy businesses.
  7. To provide a forum for those involved in or with Creative Economy businesses.

CEANS is an organization with over 100 members that runs seminars, workshops and networking opportunities. For additional information, please visit the CEANS website at www.ceans.org.

On May 3, 2006, Massachusetts held its first ever statewide conference on the Creative Economy. The conference, entitled "The Innovation Agenda, Growing the Creative Economy in Massachusetts," was held at Salem's Hawthorne Hotel and Peabody Essex Museum. It attracted over 200 thought leaders from around the state, and engaged them in a wide-ranging discussion on the importance of and need for economic development at the nexus of creativity and technology.

The Innovation Agenda Sponsors: The Salem Partnership, the Enterprise Center at Salem State College, The Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the John Adams Innovation Institute

The Conference was sponsored by four leading organizations, specifically, The Salem Partnership; the Enterprise Center at Salem State College; The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the John Adams Innovation Institute, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The major goal of the sponsors was to create a common agenda on how Massachusetts can expand both the innovation and creative economies. The end result of this work was the development of a strategic plan on how to use the innovation and the creative economies to further economic development in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This plan was distributed to key government officials, major business leaders, venture capitalists, foundations and economic development professionals in the innovation and creative economy.

Following the conference, a final report and action plan (pdf) along with an Executive Summary were developed.

In April 2007, Charles Landry was invited back to Massachusetts. On the morning of April 12, 2007, Representative Daniel Bosley (Chair of the House Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies) welcomed key legislators and key players in the Creative Economy Initiative to the Omni Parker House in Boston. He announced that legislation would be filed calling for Creative Economy Council that would move forward the action plan that grew out of the statewide conference held in Salem in May 2006. Charles Landry spoke at the breakfast, urging all present to utilize this important sector to further economic development across the Commonwealth. The Salem Partnership and The Enterprise Center at Salem State College sponsored this breakfast.

That afternoon, Mr. Landry gave a presentation entitled "Creative Economy Initiative World-Wide" followed by a book signing of his latest book, "The Art of City Making." The lecture, book signing and reception were held at the Peabody Essex Museum and were sponsored by CEANS (The Creative Economy Association of the North Shore).

On Friday, April 13, 2007, Mr. Landry was the guest of Salem State College. He gave a workshop to approximately 70 educators on "Creativity Can Be Learned: Essential Skills for Global Competitiveness."

In July 2007, funding was obtained through the efforts of Senator Frederick E. Berry and Representative John D. Keenan to further the creative economy initiative on the North Shore. A major portion of this funding was utilized on a market analysis and action plan prepared by ConcultEcon, Inc. in association with Karl F. Seidman Consulting Services.

Economic Development Report: Creative Economy of the North Shore View the Executive Summary and the full report

The Three Principals (The Salem Partnership, The Enterprise Center at Salem State and the Creative Economy Association of the North shore) again received funding from the state legislature in the ’09 state budget. This funding allowed for implementation of the action plan identified in the above-mentioned study. Key accomplishments are as follows:

  • The research and action plan were presented to key stakeholders, specifically political leaders, chambers, rotaries and other organizations. In total, 27 presentations were given.
  • A “toolkit” was developed for local officials to promote their community as great places for creative businesses to thrive.
  • Creative Economy teams were designated in 10 cities and towns of the North Shore (involving local government, chambers and prominent leaders). To date, 9 creative economy convergence/bumping/connections took place with between 50 and 90 attendees at each event. Furthermore, based on post event surveys, over 90% found these beneficial and requested more such opportunities to do business.
  • Events held with largest creative economy clusters (design, the arts and business management and consultants) to identify needs of specific industries and determine how to help meet their needs.
  • A signature event to culminate the year’s efforts called “The Big Tweet” was held at the new center for the Arts at Endicott College in June 2009 with over 300 people in attendance.
  • A comprehensive and award winning website was developed for CEANS ( www.ceans.org) that provides information about the Creative Economy, economic development issues, events, a forum to post jobs and contract positions, and a directory for creative economy businesses.

The Salem Partnership and the Enterprise Center at Salem State College initiated the Creative Economy Initiative on the North Shore in 2004. In 2011, it was the consensus of all involved that this had been a most successful undertaking. The following goals were met:

  • The creative economy on the North Shore has grown as indicated by surveys that show new businesses and jobs have been created.
  • The North Shore is now recognized as a unique center of creative economy activity and innovation.
  • A collaborative and coordinated regional approach has been developed and will continue to serve creative economy businesses on the North Shore.
  • CEANS, The Creative Economy Association of the North Shore, has a seat on the board of the newly organized North Shore Alliance and coordination with this organization is moving forward. As an example, a networking event was held in April 2010. The keynote speaker was William Luster, President of the North Shore Alliance, with over 150 people in attendance.
  • In August 2010, the Healthcare Cost Containment Bill became law. This new law includes some relief for small business cooperative purchasing. Since the vast majority of creative economy companies are small businesses, this is an important first step as many people in the creative economy industry state that health care costs is one of their greatest concerns. The approved language allows for six (6) Cooperative Health Insurance purchasing groups to be formed. These groups, formed in early 2011, include a maximum total of 85,000 lives (which we are told represent approximately 10% of the merged market). As stated above, this provides some relief and is a good start. Hopefully, in the future, this option will be available to all small businesses in the Commonwealth.
  • In 2011 CEANS had a database of over 4000 members of the Creative Economy. Events held still attract hundreds of eager innovators and entrepreneurs to network and learn from one another.

On June 19, 2012 at the Shalin Liu Center in Rockport, MA, with over 150 people in attendance, Dr. Stephen Immerman announced that The Salem Partnership and the Enterprise Center at Salem State University had entered into a collaborative agreement with Montserrat College of Art. The goal now is to grow existing creative economy companies, initiate new ones and to act as an economic catalyst between big businesses and entrepreneurs in the creative economy industry.