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WeTransfer names Norfolk as No. 3 emerging creative hub on cities list

The company cited several artistic and entrepreneurial institutions found in Norfolk, starting off with the NEON District and ending with "the beach town feel."
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Aerial panorama of Norfolk, Virginia by night.

NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk, Virginia, landed the No. 3 spot on file transfer service WeTransfer's debut index of emerging creative hubs in the United States.

The Mermaid City joined the ranks of nine other cities "packed with under-the-radar locales," including Atlanta, Georgia (No. 1); Madison, Wisconsin (No. 2); Boston, Massachusetts (No. 4) and Denver, Colorado (No. 5).

The company cited several artistic and entrepreneurial institutions found in Norfolk, starting off with the NEON District as "a vibrant ode to the city’s creative culture" and ending with "the beach town feel."

"Home to the world’s largest naval base, Norfolk has been on people’s radar for quite some time," the company wrote. "But in many ways, the city’s military history has overshadowed how truly creative the city has become."

The Chrysler Museum of Art, Harrison Opera House, d'Art Center, Rutter Family Art Foundation, Cardinal Skate Shop, Tender Heart Tattoo, and the murals in the NEON District got shoutouts for the creative outlets they offer the community.

Credit: Jamale Stevenson
OnieTonie Mural at 801 Granby Street in Norfolk

Some of the other places mentioned were Granby Street as "a vibrant and walkable downtown," Assembly as "home to some of the area’s inspiring creative and technology companies," and the Ghent and Freemason Districts as "a more historical take on the city."

The company also took note of two local environmental organizations: the Elizabeth River Project, which is working to restore the health of the river, and RISE, which is building solutions for coastal resilience.

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Walkway leading to Ocean View Beach in Norfolk, Virginia with the Chesapeake Bay in the background.
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The USS Wisconsin as she sits in Norfolk Virginia.

How the 'emerging creative hub' index is different, according to WeTransfer

The company sought to profile cities that haven’t constructed a glowing creative reputation yet, writing that the places on its index could challenge existing perspectives on what makes a city creative.

"Culture’s continuous obsession with finding the most 'creative city' has yielded more of the same: indices and lists chock-full of the juggernauts we’ve come to expect: New York City, Los Angeles, or Austin," the company wrote to start out its index. "They get most of the credit, while only being home to a specific creative experience."

The company said it partnered with insight and brand studio TRIPTK to evaluate data sets for each city, including growth rate in creative jobs, revenue growth in the creative industry, the growth rate of new startups, and the diversity breakdown.

That research was combined with data from the people who use WeTransfer to find where creative people were producing work.

To read WeTransfer's index, you can visit its website. You can also take a quiz to find out what creative city is best suited for you.

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