Consider Rock Hill, SC – First in its historic hey day, then decades of textiles, then as part of the rapidly expanding Charlotte region. A town with a consistently growing population, with consistently high rankings in national studies for quality of life, and yet a town with 20% unemployment. That’s one and five working adults.

Rock Hill is a town with a great small university with lots of artists, musicians, teachers, designers, and entrepreneurs. We have a great technical college introducing innovative programs like the Institute for Manufacturing Productivity and THE HIVE.

Rock Hill is a town experiencing well-paced and quality growth development, including

  • the revitalization of Old Town for quaint and unique urban density
  • the planned development at River Walk, a riverside community with
    • “new village” density and mixed use
    • Olympic-standards Velodrome
    • an X-Games-standards BMX track
  • the Carolina Thread Trail and River Walk along the Catawba River
  • Cherry Road area improvements and growth
  • Manchester area growth (including soccer complex)

Yet, we have 20% unemployment.

So, what gives? How the growth and high-quality of life alongside a soaring unemployment? Can that last? And what can we do about it?

The traditional solution to unemployment is Jobs. Right? But, what if there is a population of workers who are not looking for jobs, instead each is looking for his or her next gig.

Consider the lives of the professionals in the following industries:

  • Internet Marketing and Communications
  • Web and Application Technology
  • Computer Hardware/Software and Information Technology
  • Creative Arts
  • Musical Arts
  • Audio/Video Production

Consider that these individuals are independent professionals – knowledge workers – functioning as single-person businesses. They move from contract to contract, putting together their own portfolios of work.

Contracting behavior is also increasingly present in Financial, Legal, Health, and even the Commercial services. The real estate/construction marketplace was thriving off such a marketplace just before the bust.

Consider back-office services as well – processing, accounting, server, secure storage, etc.

The new economy need is knowledge-based / skilled labor. The new economy model is more focused on the individual, whether that individual is an employee, a consultant, part of a boutique service provider, or an independent contractor.

Many of these professionals can live in Old Town Rock Hill and serve clients all over the area, region, nation, world. These creative and motivated folk, can gather here and work here.