Gyumri - Epicenter of the Creative Economy 25 years after the earthquake

When an earthquake strikes, it can garner a lot of attention in the days and weeks that follow. What happens once the rest of the world stops paying attention? The city and people, affected by the quake, have to recover and rebuild a new life. Gyumri, Armenia was devastated and has struggled to rebuild itself ever since. Once a thriving city of 225,000+ people, today Gyumri has an unofficial population of around only 90,000 because many people have left primarily for economic reasons. We here at itechnology.am wanted to tell a different story - about Gyumri’s new Creative Economy. Most stories are focused on the tragedy and how Gyumri has been unable to recover because the journalist just come to the city with preconceived ideas and just focus on that. We looked a little deeper and found a different Gyumri. One bubbling with creative energy and major change.

Yes, we see the still crumbling and un-repaired buildings around Gyumri everyday. But we are also witness to the major changes going on. A quite earthquake not noticed by the world or even most of the citizens of Gyumri itself is going on. Gyumri is now becoming an epicenter for what people are calling the Creative Economy.

Linking Culture, Creativity and Technology

I like to write about setting ideas in motion. How about the idea that the key to economic growth for cities like Gyumri is not it’s ability to attract traditional manufacturing business investments, but to develop creative people who will grow their own new ideas. That is the future. Just like many places in the US like Cleveland or Pittsburgh, large scale manufacturing will NEVER return. Many former industrial cities like Gyumri are struggling even without all of the problems that Gyumri faces.

Places like New Orleans have made the change to a creative economy. After hurricane Katrina the city was left for dead, but it now is America’s hottest new start-up city and economic growth has push the city to being larger and more vibrant then ever before the hurricane. Most people reading this know very little about New Orleans, but maybe you should read Inc Magazine’s Why New Orleans Is the Coolest Start-up City in America or Atlantic Magazine’s The Big Comeback: Is New Orleans America’s Next Great Innovation Hub? I am telling you it can be done and I think Gyumri is the perfect city for this transformation.

The idea of “Creative Class” was primarily first floated by Richard Florida in The Rise of the Creative Class and his new edition. The concept is simple - for most of the world, the large industrial complexes are closed and will not return. The future of a city is gauged on it’s Creativity Index because that is the future for economic growth. Small countries such as Singapore, Estonia and Israel have created and thrived by developing creative tech focused entrepreneurs.

 

Of the 86 countries indexed, Armenia is ranked 46 in Technology, 61 in Human Talent and 50 in Tolerance. With an overall score of 54, Armenia is doing better then it’s neighbors such as Turkey [68], Azerbaijan [60] and Georgia[57], but not as good as the competition of Singapore[9], Israel[24], Czech Republic[29], Estonia[32] or even the Russian Federation[30].

You can read the full report here - Creativity and Prosperity: The Global Creativity Index.

What do you think? Please leave a comment and put some of you own ideas in motion. If you have any questions please contact me.