Creative? You’re soaking in it

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By Kakie Urch

Lexington, is well, you know, creative.

That’s what they’ve always said about us, heck, Ace has been saying it for 20 years. Today Gov. Steve Beshear and Mayor Jim Newberry announced that, in April, we will have the 600-person interdisciplinary, international Creative Cities Summit conference in town to prove it.

Richard Florida, the author of “The Rise of the Creative Class,” will be one of the conference speakers for the April 7-9 event. Gov. Beshear himself is scheduled to speak at the conference, with the announcement coming in the same week that his State of the Commonwealth address highlighted developing new economic strengths.

Rebecca Ryan, of Next Generation Consulting in Madison, Wisc., is also on the bill as is Charles Landry, author of “The Creative City,” Bill Strickland, CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp. and author of “Making the Impossible Possible.” Ben Self, founder of Blue State Digital will also appear.

Peter Kageyama, who runs the Creative Cities conference, appeared with the governor and the mayor at today’s news conference, which was held at Baker’s 360.

“Peter chose Lexington after the Detroit summit,” said Juli Gaworski, Corporate Citizenship and Inclusion specialist at LexMark, who hosted the afternoon’s announcement event. “Local officials (who had gone to the Detroit 2008 summit) kept on him. They persuaded him that Lexington was a place that fit the mold of a creative city.”

Gaworski said Kageyama’s approach is not to come into a city and tell it what to do, but provide a forum for creativity and creative business that allows resources already in place to “all row in the same direction.”

LexMark is a local sponsor of the event, Gaworski said, providing the printing and other production elements for the conference. Other local sponsors include the University of Kentucky, Insight Business, Belcan, Rubidine, WebMedley, Central Bank, Downtown Lexington Corporation, Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Gaworski said LexMark is supporting the conference because the company, like Toyota and other technology-based firms, has found that the outlets and diversity of a creative community help it with employee retention. “Lexington is making a lot of great changes,” but there is more to do she said. “We at LexMark need to get behind efforts that highlight that change.”

While $199 for a three-day conference may seem steep, it is a reduction from the $500-1,000 pricetag that the conference usually carries.

The host hotel for the conference will be the Hyatt, with the conference itself scheduled for the Lexington Convention Center, according to the Web site for the conference at http://www.creativecitieslexington.com



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