Progress to Date

Regional Community Engaged

  • 1000+ creatives, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, educators, and business and political leaders were engaged;
  • a Steering Committee of 30 individuals, representative of the region, was formed and engaged;
  • the first-ever Regional Summit was held in February and a second is planned for November.

Research Gathered

The data gathered during the discovery phase spanned 6 months, 8 counties, hundreds of individuals and businesses, and mining of up-to-date data compiled from more than 90 sources:

  • County Tours (8 counties, numerous businesses and individuals)
  • One-on-one interviews (100+)
  • Focus groups (8 groups of 12 – 20 participants)
  • Creative Freelancer Survey (599 respondents)
  • Economic Development Data – EMSI composite dataset (more than 90 sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics) with insight to occupational wages, industry trends, employment growth/decline and concentration, and more

Intended Outcomes

The overlap of creative workers employed both within the cluster and in non-creative industries presents untapped opportunities for the region’s future economic growth. Intended outcomes span a broad landscape:

  •  Job growth in the creative industries throughout the region
  • Increased recognition by regional leaders and residents of the important role creative industries play in the economy and in quality of life
  • Enhanced competitive advantage of other regional industries (i.e., talent attraction)
  • Income growth for creative freelancers
  • Economic opportunities for low income residents in creative industries
  • Acceleration of new enterprise development in the creative industries
  • Stronger and more sustainable nonprofit cultural institutions
  • Enhanced quality of life in rural and urban places in the region
  • Increased market for creative goods and products
  • Youth more engaged in the arts

 Enormous Opportunity

Based on the research to-date, some preliminary strategy areas have been developed including:

  1. Build on the convergence of Art, Creativity, and Technology
  2. Leverage the creative assets of the region’s higher education institutions
  3. Support market development and economic growth amongst creative freelancers and small businesses
  4. Promote stronger nonprofit cultural institutions striving for world class quality
  5. Establish a complementary brand for the region that reflects its creative strengths
  6. Develop new avenues of economic opportunity for the region’s low income and minority residents through the creative economy

Strategies related to these six areas of opportunity are under development.  In August, Strategic Recommendations Committees, one for each strategy area, were formed. Regional industry experts gathered to review the study findings and explore recommendations and strategies that are transformative, yet grounded in the reality of what is achievable. The strategies and recommendations will be part of the final report.


The economic assessment of the creative sector is a community-based initiative, conducted through a regional alliance of the creative sector.  A project management team will facilitate and administer a community engagement process designed to solicit input from across the region.

  • The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, led by Karen Bilowith, President & CEO, is an independent, regional, community-based, non-profit organization. The Foundation is responsible for stewardship of project related funds and project management.
  • The Capital Region Creative Economy initiative was identified as a priority project by the Capital Region Economic Development Council and was awarded $65,000 from Empire State Development to the Center for Economic Growth, led by F. Michael Tucker, President & CEO.
  • Economic research and strategic planning is led by Mt. Auburn Associates, a Massachusetts based firm with 10+ years of related experience.
  • Project management, communications, and engagement strategies are directed by Mary Ellen O’Loughlin, a local consultant with 25+ years of related experience.
  • Community stakeholders are engaged throughout the process with opportunities for input through multiple methods including one-on-one interviews, focus groups, on-line surveys, social media, and meetings.
  • Project activities are informed by a community selected Steering Committee comprised of approximately 30 individuals, representative of New York’s Capital Region.

Further, the Steering Committee will:

  • Consider and advise according to the needs of the county/region
  • Inform project decisions
  • Ensure county representation by engaging others throughout the process
  • Provide input to all deliverables
  • Advise Program Director and Strategy Consultants
  • Assist in interpretation and implications of economic overview and data
  • Consider and contribute to strategic development and implementation
  • Interact with Program Director and/or Strategy Consultants as needed throughout the lifetime of the project