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An article in the Atlantic has been making the rounds on the Internet today (at least here in North Carolina) as it highlights local entrepreneurs. Durham’s Kickstarter Kids highlights a trend in the Triangle, typically known for big IT and pharma. With one of the most educated populaces in the nation, the Triangle (the NC region encompassing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is becoming a hotbed for small start ups and creative ideas. Durham in particular has undergone a renaissance in the past five to ten years, attracting residents and businesses to a downtown that faded as the tobacco industry moved away.
So what are they doing? They’re making custom bound journals by marrying technology with just-in-time printing capabilities, using technology to create custom clothing, and making doughnuts (hey innovation needs fuel).
Durham is a great example of how a once industrial town can reinvent itself through an educated populace, creative thinking, and technology/innovation.
The Oxford American magazine website published a brief interview with Richard Florida this week, focusing on Southern U.S. cities’ positioning in the quiet competition to draw creative talent to the workforce.
As the interview is part of the magazine’s free online content, rather than published in print, the format of the interview is loose, and questioning posed to the Rise of the Creative Class / Who’s Your City author and sociologist is a little roundabout. However, as always, Florida’s responses are concise and careful and the discussion is interesting. Though Florida often conservatively draws back from prescribing any kind of cultural shifting, instead focusing more in the realm of city planning and corporate creative worker migration, he’s stretching out a bit in communicating his understanding of many creatives’ needs to balance authenticity and contemporary opportunities in their local communities.
One of the nice things about living near RTP is that as the area has grown, more and more innovative business has moved into the area. Recently a former restaurant owner in the area decided to go simple and bring street food to the area. Instead of high-priced dinners, Sam Poley and Tom Ferguson of the Durham Catering Company have brought us OnlyBurger. The concept? Great burgers at a cheap price without any pretention. Let the product stand for itself.
The location moves from site to site much like the castle in Krull (a movie everyone should see at least once in their lives). The cool thing about them (besides the food) is that they use Twitter to broadcast where they are going to be and when. It’s a nice marriage of technology, old lunch trucks, and Just-in-time solutions.