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European Planning Studies, Vol. 12, No. 6, September 2004


Art and Design as Competitive Advantage: A Creative Enterprise Cluster in the Western United States

A B S T R A C T The creative enterprise cluster consists of companies that take their principal competitive cukantage from a distinctive appearance, form, content, or sound that they embed or embody in their products or services. TTiey include large numbers of micro-enterprises, freelancers, and design rranufacturers, which loosely comprise a 'creative enterprise cluster'. The US state of Montana has such a cluster. It includes artisan firms, native American businesses, freelancers, and design manufacturers, many of which are included in government business databases. Montana's biodiversity, low population density, independent lifestyle, and cultural heritage have drawn large numbers of creative enterprises and entrepreneurs, which have led to support network of associations, cooperatives, galleries, suppliers, and educators. A study of the clusterfor the Montana Governor's office' led to a number of recommendations that included recognizing recognition as economic development, increasing emphasis on arts and design in education, forming local and international marketing networks, establishing specialized business service centres, and matching artists with manufacturers. As a result, the state selected this cluster for fkrther targeted support and development.

1. Introduction
The Rise of the Creative Class (Florida, 2002) makes a compelling argument for a new way to define the kind of people that increasingly are associated with growing knowledge-based economies. But creativity can also be used as a defining characteristic of a specific kind of enterprise—those companies and entrepreneurs that take their principal competitive advantage from a distinctive appearance, form, content, or sound that they embed or embody in their products or services and those that...

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