I am a twenty-something with my eye on Muskoka. This is my home and, although my schooling has taken me across the country, I am constantly drawn back to its natural beauty, charismatic community and its lifestyle. But something is changing and I want to be a part of it. They call it the creative economy and like others, I am trying to understand what it means.

Why does the creative economy interest me at all? Because my expectations are high. I am educated, ambitious and hungry for opportunities that will grow my talents and my experience. I am looking for a great job that will make use of my talents and will reward me in return. I love Muskoka and want to build a career that will allow me to contribute to my home town. Occupations related to arts and culture are very much a part of the new creative economy, and cultural activities contribute to a quality of life that acts like a magnet in attracting creative workers. But by definition, creative occupations are much broader. Creative workers are knowledge workers whose jobs involve idea generation, innovation, decision-making and responsibility.

The creative economy is taking many forms in Muskoka. I mention a sampling.

On the culinary front, The Griffin Gastropub is a niche establishment that is capitalizing on consumer's interest in combining quality food, cozy atmosphere and a focus on all that is local and micro. Two young Griffin entrepreneurs are bringing the flavours of the world to their patrons along with over 50 different beers made exclusively by Ontario Breweries. Muskoka Cottage Brewery and Lake of Bays Brewery, two other local creative industries, are included on the menu. Good luck finding a seat! Savour Muskoka is a clever collective of food businesses that is developing the Muskoka region as a dynamic culinary tourism destination by supporting establishments like the Griffin.

What about the many environmentalists who are operating consulting and research services from Muskoka. They are also a part of the creative economy. For example, Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd. is a new Muskoka company that is using local scientists and technicians to undertake Canada-wide projects related to aquatic science. New technologies allow Muskoka-based operations to serve clients around the globe.

Muskoka is also becoming an eduation centre. Georgian College, Nipissing University and now Waterloo University are bringing formal learning opportunities to the area. Specialized programs promise to attract learners from around the world, and bring teaching professionals to Muskoka as well. Having the chance to experience Muskoka may entice some people into relocating and moving their businesses and jobs here to enjoy our quality of life on a permanent basis.

And yes... I am proud of my community. I am passionate about being a part of Muskoka's future and I am committed to doing what it takes to prosper here at home by becoming a part of this new, creative economy.

Dana Clark


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