The Social Dynamics of Economic Performance: Innovation and Creativity in City-Regions; Newfoundland and Labrador Project Preliminary Findings - St. John's, Clarenville, Corner Brook and Labrador West, a Workshop Held February 18 - 19, 2010
This workshop, organized jointly by the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development and the Rural Secretariat, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, presented the preliminary findings of the Newfoundland and Labrador section of the Innovations Systems Research Network (ISRN), which is exploring the social dynamics of economic performance in fifteen cities across Canada. This research has three major themes: the social dynamics of innovation; talent attraction and retention; and governance and inclusion.
Dr. Rob Greenwood, Director of the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development at Memorial University leads the Newfoundland and Labrador section of this project. In the St. John’s region, Ann-Marie Vaughan, Dr. Josh Lepawsky and Dr. Rob Greenwood, assisted by Crystal Phan and Seamus Heffernan, conducted 76 interviews within a variety of sectors, creative workers, and government and community actors across the three themes. Dr. Reeta Tremblay is leading the research for all three themes in Clarenville, Corner Brook and Labrador West with the assistance of Ken Carter and Byron Rolls.
The keynote address, by Dr. Greg Spencer, provided an overview of the national project and the implications this research has for smaller cities and rural areas. The following day, the Newfoundland and Labrador Research Team including Ann-Marie Vaughan, Dr. Rob Greenwood, Byron Rolls, and Ken Carter presented on the preliminary findings with time set aside for lively debates.
The workshop concluded with a five-member panel discussion on the implications of these findings involving Dr. Greg Spencer, Dave Peddle, Nick McGrath, Lisa Browne and Bruce Gilbert. Several debates emerged over the two-day workshop including one focused on economic diversity versus specialization and their application in smaller cities. Other debates centred on the experiences of 'CFAs' (come from aways) and the need for strategic collaboration. The overall message from the workshop suggests that although this project has interesting insights for smaller cities, the creativity and innovation script depicts large cities like Toronto as the norm. However, all in attendance were hopeful that the Newfoundland and Labrador project would help change this perception.