Artists, Artisans, and Entrepreneurs: Creative Economy of the East Central Vermont Region
Fat Hat Owner and textile designer Joan Ecker has long been designing clothing in Quechee for women and promoting positive images, comfort and confidence. BigTown Gallery owner Anni Mackay started small but has grown BigTown into a visual arts, literary and performing arts destination for the greater Rochester community and beyond. WallGoldfinger, Inc., celebrating 45 years in business this year, designs, engineers, manufactures and installs some of the world’s finest executive office furniture out of Randolph. The list of incredibly successful creatives in the Region goes on and on.
Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) championed an effort to analyze and evaluate the existence and strength of the Region’s Creative Economy. The purpose of this investigation, Creative Economy of the East Central Vermont Region, was to find out if the creative economy is as strong as we believed it to be and if so, what needed to be done to support it and help it grow.
A creative economy describes the total employment in creative industries and in creative occupations within the remainder of the regional economy. What we learned is that the Region’s creative economy has been a vital piece of the overall East Central Vermont (ECV) economy for well over 20 years.
The report found that as corporate mass production disappears, its earlier strengths in an artisanal production base is being re-discovered. The Region is well ahead of the game, with an economy that has been quintessentially artisanal for a long time and already depends heavily on its micro and small businesses. Many of these are innovative hybrids with diverse creative talents that can generate expanded markets. This hybrid industrial model is a large part of the State’s and Region’s brand.
- Employment in the creative industries is about 8.9% of the total ECV Region’s employment.
- Employment growth in the Region’s creative industries was 10.2% from 2010-2015 versus 8.2% for the U.S. and 7.6% for Vermont.
- The proportion of the workforce employed in creative industries in the Region is 86% above the similar national proportion.
All of these strengths point to an expanding creative economy, the kind of economy in which Vermont and the Region already holds a decided edge. Creative businesses have already revitalized some parts of the Region, and a number of others stand on the cusp of real growth possibilities.
Funding for the report was provided by TRORC with additional funding through the U.S. Economic Development Administration through the East Central Vermont Economic Development District.