This paper addresses the possibility that competitive rural manufacturing is increasingly driven by quality-of-life factors required to attract highly skilled and creative workers. Recent findings that highly creative workers are drawn to amenity-rich rural areas provide the empirical leverage for testing anecdotal claims that these areas tend to contain small manufacturing bases that are more reliant on innovation. This contrasts with the cost advantage rationale of traditional rural manufacturing, an advantage that is eroding with increased globalization. The analysis provides the first empirical evidence that the start of entrepreneurial manufacturing plants and the adoption of advanced technologies and management practices are strongly associated with the local employment share in highly creative occupations.


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