There's a lot of serendipity in an economy

David Byrne tells us of the existence of a cluster, a centre of excellence, out in the Pennsylvania Dutch (ie, Amish etc) farmlands. The cluster, the centre, for producing stage sets for arena touring musical shows. As he says, we might expect there to be some reason for this:

What I get from this story is that, for the most part, my assumed explanations as to why this music and tech complex sprouted and grew here, were wrong. Probably like most people I assumed there were practical and rational economic factors that explained why this and why here. A confluence of nearby interstate highways maybe, allowing easy access to markets and resources. Or maybe it was not even highways, but proximity to a sizable number of markets-—Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, NJ, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and more. Maybe there was a university or some institution nearby that was turning out trained audio engineers—Lehigh University maybe?

Those factors (except the last one) did help the business flourish once it was established, but they don't explain why it started here.

That such a centre is likely to happen is obvious enough, clustering is a well known economic phenomenon. The industry is where the industry is and once it is if you want to be in it you'll go there. Sheffield and Rotherham are where you go in the UK with specialty metals, Stoke on Trent to be a pottery, The City for finance, elsewhere LA for movies, Nashville for turgid dirges and so on.

But as Byrne points out, they why of the specific place can be serendipitous. It was simply Frankie Valli's anger at being snubbed over the use of a sound system, the first people he could find to provide him with his own coming from this area. And that really was the start.

All of which is just another example of why that economic planning is so difficult. Because things really do just happen. Or, as we might put it, the economy is something emergent from those things which just happen rather than something we've guided into being.