Talk’s focus: Luring creative workers

By TONY RAAP
Herald Staff Writer

A continuing lecture series onthe importance of place resumes Tuesday with a discussion on how to make Dubois County more attractive to creative types.

Lehman

The series, known as community conversations, is meant to spark a dialogue on how to strengthen the county’s identity.

It began more than a year ago, when the county was chosen to hold a trio of monthly talks sponsored by Indiana Humanities and the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University.
The discussions were a hit, so community leaders decided to continue the conversations on a semiannual basis, said Alan Johnson, dean of Vincennes University Jasper Campus.

Each lecture focuses on a different topic. A speaker usually lectures for an hour, then the attendees discuss the topic in small groups.

The location of the talks rotates among Jasper, Huntingburg and Ferdinand to try to engage the entire community. Tuesday’s conversation will start at 11 a.m. at the Huntingburg Event Center.

Johnson wanted to hold a discussion on the importance of the creative class — people who create things for a living. The talk will center on the research of Richard Florida, a renowned author who argues that the creative class is a driving economic force.

But getting Florida himself to come to Dubois County would be “far beyond what we would be able to afford,” Johnson said.

So he and other community leaders decided to bring in Tom Lehman, an economics professor at Indiana Wesleyan University whose research is a variation of Florida’s.

Both have studied the creative class. The key difference is that Lehman’s work concentrates on smaller communities.

Organizers hope his speech will generate a robust discussion on ways to persuade creative workers to put down roots in Dubois County. About a third of the U.S. workforce is part of the creative class.
For the community to grow, it will have to figure out how to tap into this class of workers, Johnson said.

Tuesday’s conversation will be the fifth in the series. A sixth is already planned for the spring. Organizers hope to keep the conversations going as long as they can.

“It’s a different way to listen,” Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz said.

The talks involve the whole community rather than just a particular segment. And the small-group discussion allows attendees to synergize and engage in things that “prompt thought, that force thinking, that don’t guide necessarily in a certain way but offer opportunities and ideas to digest,” Seitz said. “And I find that healthy.”

Tickets cost $25, and lunch will be catered. To reserve a seat, call the Jasper Chamber of Commerce at 482-6866.

Contact Tony Raap at traap@dcherald.com.




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