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Working Papers

Creative Places

Working paper #520
Witold Rybczynski

To assess the degree to which knowledge-based industries are attracted to regions with high creativity score, this paper examines the location choices of one specific category of creative employers: large consulting firms that offer design services in the construction field. Research suggests that a high degree of clustering is taking place, since roughly half of the 50 largest firms in the United States are located in only five urban regions: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and Denver. Of the 39 largest design firms rated in terms of international business, there is a higher degree of clustering: more than 70 percent of the firms are located in only eight urban areas, and almost half of these are concentrated in only two areas, San Francisco and New York. There is likewise a high degree of clustering among architectural firms: 100 of the 133 largest firms are located in clusters of two or more, and more than half of the largest 100 firms are located in only six urban regions. The distribution of firms is not related to the size of the urban region. Small Boston has the same number as large New York; Atlanta and San Francisco have more than Houston or Philadelphia. The study upholds the hypothesis that the power of place plays a role in attracting creative workers and knowledge-based industries.

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