How Can Creativity and Innovation Revitalize NJ?

June 1, 2011

Creative NJ logo.

“When they ask me, as of late they frequently do, how I have for so many years continued an equal interest in medicine and the poem, I reply that they amount for me to nearly the same thing.”

-William Carlos Williams, Doctor and Poet, Rutherford, NJ

Creative NJ logo

In just under two weeks (June 14 and 15), the Creative New Jersey Open Space – a two-day “meeting of the minds” – will take place with 150 registered participants who will discuss and brainstorm ideas for revitalizing New Jersey.

Some background on the event:

For more than two centuries, innovation and creativity from New Jerseyans have transformed the world through their invaluable and unique contributions. From the inventions of tetracycline (Pfizer Corporation, 1923) and the drive-in theatre (Richard Hollingshead, 1933) to the light bulb (Thomas Edison, 1876), condensed soup (Campbell Soup, 1894), the vast body of work of Albert Einstein and the Center for Advanced Studies and the transformative innovations of Bell Labs, our State has historically been at the forefront of innovation. Leading pharmaceutical and health care products companies as well as those who focus on manufacturing, industry, research and technology have called New Jersey home for many years. The creative products and services that have been developed by these giants have helped solve problems, provided new opportunities, made life more efficient and enjoyable, and have changed the world. It is clear that these companies and individuals have contributed to the State’s economy and have inspired hundreds of new and emerging businesses.

Today, our state faces enormous challenges in multiple fronts:

• The current stakes are high – New Jersey faces enormous economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental challenges.

• In 1999 New Jersey was 4th in the nation in patents. Now we are 9th while places like Washington State, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois have leaped ahead of us. This represents a decline of 32% in patents.

• In 1990, New Jersey accounted for 20% of the jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. Today this number is now 12%.

• A decade ago we were recognized as the center for the nation’s telecommunications industry. No more.

• From 2000 to 2009 we rank 47th in net migration (46th in the latest year-over-year period) only ahead of New York, Michigan, California and Illinois.

• We rank 45th in debt per resident.

• We are recognized as one of the worst states for businesses and entrepreneurs.

• We lead the nation in college student migration.

In order to bolster the State’s economic situation, there must be a renewed movement to support a climate that fosters creativity, innovation and sustainability in our diverse society. Action and perseverance to forward this agenda are needed to stimulate our economy quickly with an eye to workforce development and sustainable growth.

The 2-day Creative New Jersey Open Space will explore the intersections of our collective work and what we can do together that we can not do alone. The hope is to develop new collaborations and partnerships with local, state and private entities within New Jersey that share the same goals:

• Empower all New Jerseyans to develop their capacities for creativity, innovation and sustainability.

• Support the growth of an entrepreneurial economy that will stimulate new careers, companies and industries.

• Create and sustain world-class cultural and educational opportunities.

• Promote new opportunities for creativity, innovation and sustainability at all levels – in education, in government, in the work place and in the daily lives of all New Jerseyans.

Fortunately there are some outstanding state models that New Jersey can build upon to achieve these ambitious goals, such as Choose New Jersey, Innovation New Jersey, Sustainable Jersey, and ArtsPlan New Jersey.

The convening will provide stakeholders with an understanding of the urgent need for this initiative, demonstrate the potential of a more creative economy, and launch the conversation on how to move this new collective vision for a more creative and sustainable New Jersey forward.

Although registration for this event has reached its maximum attendance, you can follow it online at the Creative NJ website and see the program schedule here. And if you’re on Twitter, follow both @CreativeNJ and the #CreativeNJ hashtag to see all of the tweets on June 14 and 15.

If you are interested in receiving summary documents from the convening and/or notification of future Creative New Jersey events please join the mailing list.

Also, stay tuned for a wrap up of this event on our blog.