Creative Economy – The Horizontal Sector

Call it “Industry Agnostic” or a “Horizontal Sector”, the chart below illustrates how Creative Occupations and the Creative Economy cuts across all sectors in Ontario.

Above indicates percentage of jobs by class and sector. Chart and Data Courtesy Martin Prosperity Institute 2009.

Industry Agnostic
In my work in Prince Edward County and now Peterborough an insight came to me as it relates to applying creative economy theory to economic development practice. The Creative Economy is about creative occupations or people who are paid to think. I first heard Kevin Stolarick refer to this notion that the Creative Class is Industry Agnostic in 2009, when working with him on Canada’s Creative Corridor. Essentially this means that the creative economy is not sectoral based or tied to specific sectors but intertwined in every sector.

The Creative Economy is an Horizontal Sector
When trying to apply the theory to practice in Prince Edward County we struggled for a while to define how to articulate this idea.When going through this process a few things occurred to me and others. Vertical sectoral based economic development has value and is easier for people to understand because that has been the frame of reference for a long time and to a certain degree it’s how the economy is organized. The Creative Economy is an horizontal sector if you will. The Creative Labour Force which is the Creative Economy cuts across all verticals, it’s horizontal or as Kevin and Richard Florida say “Industry Agnostic”.

Prince Edward County, Ontario, Gastronomy
When I was in Prince Edward County we started to articulate the overall economic development strategy as follows. Creative Occupations was the overarching horizontal sector and the vertical sectors¬† applied it’s 4 areas of the strength. Creative Industries (Media New and Traditional, Technology, Arts & Culture), Gastronomy (Value Added Agriculture, Food, Wine, Tourism Experiences), Green (Sustainability) and Health (Health-care and Wellness).

Peterborough, Ontario – The 5 Elements
In Peterborough I am starting to wrap my head around how to apply these thoughts to our economy and existing strategy. We seem to be settling in as follows. The Creative Economy is the overarching horizontal sector and there are 5 Elements or vertical sectors. The 5 Elements are: Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Life.

Over the next several blogs

on the Peterborough Economic Development site I will elaborate on each sector, horizontal and vertical and how I see applying the Creative Economy to the real and very practical world of developing Peterborough’s economy.

Brief Background & Bio
As economic development officer, I pioneered the practice of Creative Rural Economy, Economic Development in Prince Edward County, Ontario for a decade starting in 2001. Now as the President and CEO of the Greater Peterborough Economic Development Commission and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster my role has expanded to include both urban and rural creative economy work. I have a keen interest in the economics of urban-rural interdependence. I also speak regularly to groups, organizations and conferences in order to help them grow their economies, in Canada and abroad.

Want to Hear More?
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise to help others on developing Creative Economies – Rural, Small Town & City. To book me for speaking engagements, facilitation, workshops and more click here or email here.



  1. Sandy

    Hey Dan, I would really like to stay up on what you are doing in the Greater Peterborough area. Working in Career Transition Services over the last decade I was very aware that the Creative Economy was where the new sustainable jobs would be. I love the spontaneous co-operation that arises amongst people working in this economy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>