Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Study plugs arts, culture to attract businesses, keep workers

Barbara Wieland

A stronger arts and culture community in mid-Michigan would help attract business and retain workers in the area, according to a study set to be released today.

The development plan, a joint effort between the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, Michigan State University and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, will identify ways the four entities can work together to nurture the growth of the Lansing area's creative sector.

Plan to be introduced

The "cultural economic development plan" will be introduced to the public at 7 p.m. at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing.

"The cities and MSU have realized the importance of arts and culture and how important arts and culture are in creating a sense of place," said Leslie Donaldson, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

Marchelle Smith, special projects director for Lansing Economic Development Corp., said the study suggests projects that the cities, university and council can work on together.

For example, they may create a centralized Web site for ticket purchases at multiple venues in the area.

'Creative workers'

The plan doesn't anticipate how many jobs might be created, or what it will cost to accomplish some of its suggested goals.

According to the study, more than 9 percent of the area's work force held jobs in the creative sector in 2006.

Those jobs include graphic designers, performing artists and people involved in video or sound production.

The businesses that employ those workers often contribute to the quality of life in an area, Smith said.

"In order to attract executives and CEOs ... it's very important that we have creative workers here and a sense of play."

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