From its infancy, the United States has evolved from a primarily rural agrarian society to an industrial society. However, in the last hundred years there has been a steady collapse in employment from major industrial enterprises. McComb saw that happen in the 1970s with the loss of a number of core manufacturing industries. According to a recent study, 85% of the lost manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010 can be attributed to productivity growth through technological innovation, and not to outsourcing.1
What the United States has become is termed an information society where we, as digital citizens, are producers and consumers of communications and knowledge. This radical shift is most likely to continue, displacing even more and more of our traditional industries. But this does not have to mean our ruin.
In 2002, John Howkins wrote The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas from Ideas, the first book about an emerging creative economic system where “imagination and ingenuity decide what people want to do and make.”2 Thinking of the thriving economies of New York and Los Angeles, one wonders what exactly these economic centers actually produce. Quite simply, one answer is culture. Television, motion pictures, books, magazines, video games, and music recording and production are essential industries on both coasts.
The Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Arts Commission recognized the importance of the creative economy to the state of Mississippi in 2011, when they published the study, “Realizing the Economic Potential of Creativity in Mississippi.” The study highlighted the creative economies of Jackson’s Fondren Neighborhood, Mississippi School for the Arts, Ocean Springs & Bay St. Louis, Oxford, and more.
The McComb Creative Economy Partnership (MCEP) recognizes the vast artistic talent that exists in our community and aims to develop and promote cultural activity as an economic generator. Our first act as an organization was to bring a spring festival back to McComb. Billed as the McComb Music & Heritage Festival, it takes place April 29th of this year. There are opportunities that we as a community are missing; specifically, financial support for the arts from state grants and private foundations. To that end, last fall the MCEP hosted a talk with Connie Souto Learman, Arts-Based Community Development Director with the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) about helping artists get on the state’s artist and teaching artist roosters. We also applied for and received a $1,000 grant from MAC to present blues legend King Edward at this year’s festival.
Please, stay tuned to www.mccombarts.com, our McComb Arts Facebook page, Clikit.tv, and the local radio and press. Expect to see much more than just one spring festival. Our commitment to this effort will manifestly grow the creative economy of McComb and our region. With this growth and the community’s support, we are guaranteed to see the impact of new tourism while improving the quality of living for ourselves. It is time to be proud of…
1. Kalich, Tim. “Protectionism Doomed to Fail,” McComb Enterprise-Journal, Sunday, January 8, 2017, P. A5.↩
2. Howkins, John. “The creative economy deals in ideas and money.” www.johnhowkins.com. Web, accessed 9 January 2017.↩