Developing a Creative Economy is an Extension program designed for communities interested in building viable creative enterprises by developing a culture that appreciates and supports the creative sector. These creative entrepreneurs include artists, designers (all types), musicians, boutique retailers, specialty food producers and others. Participants learn ways to start-up and fund creative enterprises and events that can help build sales tax revenues and tourism in a rural community. Microbreweries, pop-up shops, co-businesses, art festivals, outdoor markets and music festivals have been opened in rural communities across the state and all have been shown to be the ‘third spaces’ needed to attract young adults back to a rural community. For more information on the program contact CED Specialist Pamela Schallhorn.
Developing a Creative Economy
Planning for a Creative-based Economy is a four-part participatory community planning process. In 2017 and 2018, the City of Greenville with the assistance of the local CED Extension Educator met a total of five times. The first session focused on creating Greenville’s vision to “develop a culture of art & creativity to expand tourism; enhance entrepreneurial development; create economic prosperity and improve the quality of life in Greenville.”
Once completed the plan included six goals that were assigned to six action committees: (1) build a pavilion park to hold music festivals and art shows in downtown; (2) attract a micro-brewery; (3) focus on a nightlife music setting; (4) consider a community arts & performance center; (5) create a Greenville area promotional committee to promote & support the arts; and (6) develop a new farmer's market in the downtown. Several of their goals have been achieved.
The second stage of the planning process was to identify resources. Greenville had so many existing resources that immediately after the plan was completed the community developed the Creative BOCO promotion committee to assist in advertising arts, music and cultural events in the city. BOCO is what the younger generation had nicknamed Bond County. A logo and Facebook page were developed to assist with the advertising. The Facebook page currently has 708 followers in a community of 7,083 residents. A series of social media workshops were provided by the CED Extension Educator with the assistance of Bradford National Bank and the City in 2018 and 2019 to help local businesses utilize the new Facebook page.
With the support of the City Manager and the Economic Development Director in Greenville, a new tourism director was hired immediately after the planning sessions were finished. One of his first tasks was to resurrect an art festival that had ended several years before. The new event called the Greenville Art Walk began again in the fall of 2019. In 2021, the city also opened the Greenville Farmer's Market in downtown which is held the first Saturday of the month from May thru October.
Shortly after the planning sessions ended in 2018, a small group of engaged citizens raised over $30,000 in just one month to hold the 4th of July celebration in downtown. Wanting to bring events downtown to support local artists, entrepreneurs and existing business owners, the community group decided to block off a couple of streets downtown and erect a temporary stage at the bottom of the hill that the courthouse sits on. Over 3,000 people attended the music festival in its first year.