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Richard Florida: Geography Is Destiny

If you're not in a creative city, says the George Mason University professor of public policy, you won't attract top talent

In 1994, Carnegie Mellon University professor Richard Florida was paging through a newspaper when a headline triggered what he calls a "holy moly" moment. Lycos, a search-engine company spun out of CMU, announced it was moving from Pittsburgh to Boston. When Florida asked why, colleagues told him that "Boston offered the lifestyle options that made it easier for Lycos to attract top creative and entrepreneurial talent," he recalls.

This explanation sparked a powerful insight: Clustered in certain U.S. cities, there is a group of innovative people -- about 38 million of them, by Florida's latest calculation -- that generate far more than their proportionate share of wealth. Florida pegged their annual wages and salaries at about $1.7 trillion in 2003, and he has chronicled their behavior and motivations in two influential books: The Rise of the Creative Class (2002) and The Flight of the Creative Class (2005).