Urban guru says acceptance of gays and lesbians makes cities and towns more profitable. Cities should embrace its avant-garde.

Richard Florida, considered by some as the guru of urban economic development, was recently welcomed to the University of Toronto’s business school.

He’s started a $120-million project at the University to research how wealth is created in urban settings.

His groundbreaking 2002 essay, “The Rise of the Creative Class: Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race” is followed this year by “There Goes the Neighborhood: How and Why Bohemians, Artists and Gays Affect Regional Housing Values”, in which he writes:

“As selective buyers with an eye for amenity, authenticity and aesthetics, locations where artists, bohemians and gays concentrate are likely to be highly sought after for their cultural amenities, desirable neighborhood character, and aesthetic quality of the housing stock.”

In other words, we’ve got good taste – and people know it.

Florida believes that if a city embraces its avant-garde citizens through a tolerant urban life, it will be economically successful. One of his measures of attainment is the “gay index,” where he says the more gay-friendly a city is, the more likely it is to be economically prosperous because of its open-mindedness.

Florida considers Toronto as one of his favourite places and one of the more “creative” cities in the world.