CoreNet Keynote Speaker: ‘We Have to Do More with Less’

That advice came from American urban studies theorist Richard Florida during CoreNet's Global Summit.

September 20, 2010
By Allison Landa, News Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user jerekeys

PHOENIX – Efficiency is key as the nascent economic recovery continues to lift real estate tides. That’s according to American urban studies theorist Richard Florida, who provided the keynote speech at CoreNet’s Global Summit.

“We have to do more with less,” Florida told a packed room. “We have to create more real value. We have to remain closer to our customers and end users. We have to become more efficient. We’re living through one of the deepest and most tumultuous economic transformations in all of human history.”

Focusing his address on the conference’s theme – “Space Matters” – Florida warned his audience that while the recovery is afoot, it’s still staggering along.

“We will not recover until we evolve a new (way) of using space,” he said. “We have to build spaces and places that are not just a comfortable place to work, not just a reasonable place to work. … We have to build places and spaces that harness the creativity of our people. All of our people.”

Florida harkened to other times of economic turmoil, noting that two distinct things happen in these times: innovation and dramatic changes in the ways in which we work. That entails new ways of using space and geography, such as the suburbanization of the 1950s.

“We dramatically change in periods of economic transformation. They’re not great depressions. They’re great resets,” he said. “In these great resets we dramatically change the way we work. … It was the invention of a new way of using our space, our places, our geography. It was the rise of suburbanization. It was suburbanization which was the fix in space which propelled not only a new way of living … what it did was prime the pump of that industrial assembly line. It created the demand for the cars and washers and dryers that filled our homes. It changed the way we use our spaces and places.

“Now, who in Washington is talking about that?” he asked. “Who is thinking about the role of space in recovery?”

We have shifted from an industrial economy to one based on knowledge, Florida said, with the result not only a change in the use of space but in the necessity of tapping creative impulses in workers.

“Less than 10 percent of us today actually touch products in a factory,” he said. “There is a new mode of production and it’s one that we all share that is more basic than our physical labor. … Simply put, it’s our human creativity.”

CoreNet’s Global Summit continues through today. For up-to-the-minute observations from the conference, check out CPE’s Twitter feed.