By Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, PRCC
The Picayune Item
Have you ever heard of the creative economy? There are a lot of references to this in regards to the arts, music, museums, cultural events and other industries that make an economic impact on communities. Some compare and contrast the creative economy with the knowledge economy. The argument being that they go hand in hand. The thought goes something like this, those in the knowledge economy (i.e. computer programmers, designers, engineers, scientists etc.) tend to cluster in and around communities that are high in cultural and social activities. Cultural and social type businesses require creative workers to support the knowledge workers in the area. Of course some communities benefit mightily from the tourism component of these industries.
A lot of people in Mississippi earn their living from these creative industries. The Mississippi Arts Commission and Mississippi Development Authority studied these industries in our state and determined that approximately 63,500 talented workers kept this economic engine churning. These businesses span the blues music in the Mississippi Delta, the arts and crafts in Ocean Springs and Bay St Louis, and Elvis in Tupelo. Read more at http://www.dailyyonder.com/worth-rural-creative-economy/2012/01/30/3727 .
One of the larger cultural events on the Miss. Gulf Coast is Cruising the Coast. The numbers this year continue to exceed expectations of the organizers. Registrants from 39 states and 3 different countries made up the 5,878 that formally signed up for the event, according to WLOX. Would be interesting to know how many participated that did not register. The restaurants, casinos and other establishments certainly benefitted from the estimated $21 million impact as noted by Beth Carriere, Harrison County Tourism Director.
What does this have to do with Picayune? Any of us in the over 40 set, having lived in and grown up around Pearl River County for most of our lives, remembers the Boulevard. Picayune’s Goodyear Boulevard was regionally renowned as a place to go cruising, show off your car (or truck), and socialize. As noted in this paper by Doug McQueen, the Boulevard was a place to cruise and congregate (http://picayuneitem.com/features/x2079263767/Memories-of-Goodyear-Boulevard-and-life-in-Picayune-during-the-1960s-and-1970s).
In the 60s and 70s there was cool restaurant, the Boulevard Inn and in the 80s The Picadilly was where young people congregated. Of course those businesses benefitted from the “loose change” spent by the kids. And I mean that quite literally, how many times did you and your friends tally up all the quarters, nickels and dimes in your pockets and ash trays in order to get enough gas to cruise around all evening?
With our close proximity to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and being the home to the Boulevard Cruisers (http://boulevardcruisers.com/), Picayune is strategically positioned to economically benefit from Cruising the Coast. The cars that the Boulevard Cruisers, and the participants of Cruising the Coast, drive and display are beautiful rolling works of arts. This type of creative economic development is bringing new jobs and businesses to many towns in Mississippi, and after all, people were cruising in Picayune long before Cruising the Coast existed.