“The South, Georgia and Cobb need to consider the economic impact the creative industries can have on their communities and figure out how to recruit the growth sectors of those industries,” Bell said. “When I was pulling the numbers for Cobb, I was actually surprised by how robust the numbers are for the county. The film and media sector alone brings in $1 billion in revenues annually, which is huge. Pulling all the data together from all industries, it totals around $2 billion. I think Cobb’s position in the metro Atlanta area gives the county opportunities to grow in these industries that other counties in the state do not have.”
Bell’s research comes in the form of a report titled “Creative Industries in the South,” which uses the 2007 Economic Census and Nonemployer Statistics from the U.S. Bureau as its database. Bell said he worked on the report for three years and used the 2007 data because it is the most recent available.
Bell analyzed six major industries within the creative industries in Southern states, which included: film and media (totaling 25,701 establishments, or 31 percent of creative industries in the South); design (18,790, or 23 percent); visual arts and crafts (17,323, or 21 percent); literary and publishing (12,831, or 15 percent); performing arts (7,150, or 9 percent); and heritage and museums (1,057, or 1 percent).
Combined, the creative industries make up 82,852 establishments; employ 1,167,108 people, including the self-employed; have annual wages of more than $41.4 billion; and have annual revenues of more than $142.6 billion.
Florida tops the list as the Southern state with the largest creative economy, followed by Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi. Florida is home to more than one-third of the total establishments in the region.
Revenues for creative industries in Georgia total $29 billion.
Bell said most of the fastest-growing sectors deal with the digital revolution, such as graphic design and software publishing.
“The more things go digital, the more people will need graphic designers to design their digital copy,” Bell said. “Software publishing is growing exponentially and will continue to grow over the next few decades.”
And while it may come as no surprise that Bell suggests video tape and disc rental outlets as well as music stores are on the decline, cable and other programming revenues are continuing to grow, as well as digital music sales.
Bell said Fulton County tops the list of Georgia counties that are seeing the most economic impact from creative industries, followed by DeKalb. Cobb and Gwinnett are frequently swapping third and fourth places, Bell said.
In Georgia, the top performing industry was education, followed by business and financial services in second, biomedical/biotechnical in third and creative industries in fourth, Bell said. In fact, he said creative industries employ more people than energy companies, information technology and telecommunications, defense and security and manufacturing.
“I had looked at other studies which compared the creative industries clusters in other states, and they ranked relatively high,” Bell said. “So I was curious to see if the creative industries would compare well to other industry clusters in the South, and I was definitely happy to see that they’re ranked among the top four or five industry clusters in the whole region. They employ more people, have more establishments and collectively have a larger payroll than a lot of other industries that most people would think are larger.”
Last summer, Maria Flora Garcia, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Arts and Culture Council, spoke to members of the Marietta Area Council and the Marietta Business Association at the Mansour Center in Marietta about the importance of the arts in Cobb, and echoed much of what Bell’s research revealed.
“We need to continue to raise awareness about the economic impact and value of the arts for tourism and the economy,” Garcia said. “Most arts organizations don’t talk about themselves as economic drivers to their elected officials … The arts are a magnet for businesses. In major urban centers, a strong cultural environment is a factor in recruiting new businesses. When businesses are looking to relocate, they focus on cities with strong cultural centers.”
Follow Katy Ruth Camp on Twitter at twitter.com/KatyRuthC.