Jobs Follow People

In the coming days, Berlin will once again host the “Berlin Fashion Week.” It is one of many signs suggesting that the city has made a name for itself in the fashion scene. Twice a year, fashion labels, designers, photographers and models flock to the German capital from all over the world. This is just one example illustrating a development that Thomas Straubhaar, Director of the HWWI Hamburg Institute of International Economics, recently analysed. In a noteworthy article that the WELT AM SONNTAG ran under the headline “Berlin Is Becoming Productive,” he developed the following hypothesis:
Creative people represent the factor that makes big cities successful. Berlin, for one, has managed to position itself as magnet for creative minds. “More than 2000 film and TV companies are seated in Berlin, among them more than 60 TV stations and TV production firms, such as Ufa Group which includes teamWorx, Ufa Film- und TV-Produktion, Phoenix Film, MME Moviement, Odeon, and Ziegler-Film.” And Berlin is just as attractive for the music industry. There are now 150 music publishers in the city.
Over the past five years, 120,000 new jobs have been created in Berlin, many of them in the service sector and specifically in the area commonly referred to as “creative economy.” The term “creative class” was coined by the American urban studies theorist Richard Florida. This class is set apart from traditional categorisations of employee and employer by its inclination toward non-conformism or indeed “weirdness.”
Some of the big, pioneering firms in the United States originated in the ideas of “weirdoes” such as Steve Jobs (Apple) or Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google). They all became billionaires several times over at a very early age, and they all belong to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Even and especially in terms of their outfit, they set themselves apart from the traditional business look. Zuckerberg prefers to wear flip-flops, jeans, grey t-shirts, and fleece sweaters. He once made a showing at a renowned venture capital firm wearing pyjamas, pleading as his “excuse:” “I’m no exception. Steve Jobs of Apple actually walked in to see them with no shoes on.”
Naturally, no outfit like Facebook or Google has been founded in Berlin so far. Yet a hotbed of creative minds is in the making that will attract others of the same ilk. A self-propagating dynamism has come into being which the director of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics described as follows: “Once a city has managed to be considered attractive, the whole thing turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Successful cities are becoming more successful yet as more and more clever people are flocking downtown.” It used to be said that “people follow jobs,” yet for the creative ones among us you could arguably say conversely that “jobs follow people.” The inherent dynamism thus set into motion will of course boost the demand for residential real estate, and, unsurprisingly, rents in “trendy districts” such as Prenzlauer Berg or Mitte have outpaced other parts of town.