Bath’s Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme has written an inspired RFP (Request for Proposal) to develop Bath’s old YMCA site. Without explicitly naming it, Bath’s RFP invites the “Creative Class” demographic to Bath as new residents. The Creative Class is a demographic that has been widely popularized by urbanist Richard Florida.

Florida analyzes three classes of worker in his 2017 book, “The New Urban Crisis: The ‘creative’ or knowledge economy worker, service worker, and manufacturing worker.”

Attracting the Creative Class worker demographic to small cities like Bath is the most effective solution to America’s shrinking middle class. As detailed by Enrico Moretti (“The New Geography of Jobs,” 2012) each of these “idea creators” leverages five good-paying jobs, on average, to support him or her.

Florida analyzes the affordable housing crisis increasingly faced by service and manufacturing workers in the supercities and metros that now attract these Creative Class engines of prosperity. But in Bath – as affirmed in its Comprehensive Plan and Main Street program – the highest priority is to attract the Creative Class cohort, the millennial entrepreneurs and their boomer investor parents who are already notably committed to walkable (not drivable) “live-work-shop-play” environments like Bath. In fact, this is Bath’s unique competitive advantage and sense of place, just waiting or the right investor to capitalize on it.

The strategies for the community development inherent in the New Urbanism, Main Street, and Smart Growth schools of thought all call for dense, mixed-use development environments that appeal specifically to the Creative Class (though most regulations in America today are not dynamic enough to implement this).

Between the two developers responding to Scott’s inspiring RFP, the Newheight Group appears most capable and well-positioned to provide both the vision and a practical path for the job-generators that Bath and Maine need most.

John Bliss, Sr.