ANCHORAGE - Anchorage is getting mostly a thumb's up from a famous urban theorist.
Richard Florida, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, told the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation that the city's economic development strategy is a good one -- but he identified what he sees as a flaw.
He travels all over the world, appears on CNN, teaches, writes books and gets name-dropped by the likes of rock star Bono.
Florida is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the revitalization of cities.
His talk in Anchorage today was on his central theme that the harnessing of creativity is the key to economic development.
Florida praised the holistic motto of the AEDC -- '”live, work, play.”
"Well, that's what my research is about, how a community, a city, a suburb that is a great place to live, work and play, wins the economic battle. Why? Because they can attract the professionals, the innovators, the technology people, the capable and talented people who will in turn attract the companies."
Anchorage does well, according to Florida, with its hiking and ski trails, green spaces, and arts and cultural life.
But he says when it comes to a key demographic, gays and lesbians, the city is lacking something: tolerance.
"I call it one of the three T's. The first two T’s are obvious. You’ve got to be a technology leader, you've got to invest in technology, you've got to be a talent leader, you've got to have great schools and great universities and attract the best and brightest, but in order to do that you have to be open-minded and inclusive because creativity doesn't know the boundaries of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation."
On his first trip to Anchorage, Florida said he likes what he sees -- but also sees room for improvement.
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who attended the luncheon, declined to go on-camera.
In 2009, Sullivan vetoed a proposed gay rights ordinance. Today he said his position remains the same -- that Anchorage is inclusive without it.
To view an unedited portion of McAllister's interview with Florida regarding tolerance, click here.