This morning, Matt Orr was the guest on the Sustainable Sarasota radio show. Matt is one of those people you would describe as “the smartest guy in the room,” and today he talked about jobs, creative economy and technology. Consider these two points:
- “A W-2 to a 1099 economy” – A W-2 is a tax form sent from employers to employees, and describes the economy must of us have always known. The 1099 is a form typically used by the self-employed. But this country still tends to work on the old model of the big employer. Florida’s biggest incentive, the Qualified Target Industries program, sets a minimum of 10 jobs for qualification, but that may be 9 more jobs than the new reality.
- Jobs –My sister-in-law, who is a business analyst, has long noted that the most important value of clusters is often overlooked. While the concentration of ideas and complementary services is important, smart employees know that if their job is lost in a merger or failed company, they can immediately find a job that is as attractive and well paying. In the new economy, Economic Development types not only have to attract smart people to a job, but their next one as well.
In a nutshell, employment will be a string of 1099’s. For some creatives, there will still be a full/part time gig with an employer, but they might also be up late working on an app, a website, or an invention. Matt also has some other key nuggets:
- Work to your strengths – While economic diversification is vital for adapting to a changing global economy, we can’t pretend that real estate and tourism are not. We need to figure out diversification within these areas, while worker better to turn visitor into repeat visitor.
- Hubs –The HuB, is an incubator for ideas and businesses. One of the best roles the HuB plays is convener where “1099’s” who work independently come together to share ideas with other smart people. Matt’s observation is we need LOTS of these around the county.
- Vision – Vision drives everything. Despite straying in some areas of implementation, though, downtown went from sleepy to cosmopolitan.
- The false age thing – There is an artificial (and not helpful) age line drawn between them (old) and us (young). For example, the noise ordinance is often attributed to “gray hairs,” though some of the ordinance’s biggest critics are older Sarasotans who want live music. The Creative Class has no age brackets.
- Feet on the Street – Technology is great and can be a spark for getting people together, but nothing beats face-to-face (again – the importance of hubs where people can work together).
- Don’t Kill the Golden Goose – Amenities matter to the creative class, and we have them: great weather, recreation, beaches. This means that every dollar spent to preserve land or clean up stormwater before it goes to Siesta Key is an Economic Development dollar.
- Leadership – The places that seem to thrive have one thing in common: a strong, accountable mayor. The individual Board Members in the City and County are great, but the structure means no one is accountable. However, there are substitutes, and in many ways grassroots support for good ideas can be brought forward, championed and widely supported. Activists need to figure out “4-1 vote” leadership rather than the one strong leader model.
This is only the beginning of a longer conversation on the 1099 economy where long term, guaranteed employment is replaced by the ability to successfully pull together a sequence of projects. What does a community need to do differently with Economic Development, incentives, quality of life and signaling?
Note the W-2 to 1099 Economy is a topic from author Patrick Schwerdtfeger, an expert in self employment. Read some of his stuff here.