PARIS – For the past 10 days, I’ve been traveling with Suzi Pegg, vice president of global marketing for the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on the 2011 European Festivals Tour.  Because the PSO is considered one of the world’s elite orchestras, the maestro and musicians are treated like rock stars here. Concerts were sold out months ago, but we set aside a number of tickets for international corporate leaders who we’d like to see land an operation – or expand a business – in the Pittsburgh region.

For six years the PRA has leveraged the PSO’s power as an ambassador of the high quality of life our  region has to offer – a factor important to any corporate leader’s decision about where to locate a facility. We’ve showcased PSO performances in their cities –  Lucerne, London, Berlin and Paris on this tour – and we’ve called upon Pittsburgh-area companies with European ties to help open doors for meetings with international corporate heads and other influencers to complement those amazing concerts.

Past tours have played a role in landing the North American headquarters (in Robinson Township) of the German IT services firm SYCOR, and have attracted Delta Air Lines’ nonstop Pittsburgh-to-Paris flight, among other locations and expansions. The unique PRA-PSO partnership has led to hundreds of meetings and put dozens of leads and actual projects in the pipeline. And those numbers will increase, I’m sure, after this tour is completed.

This evening we’ll attend a gathering organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in France, hosted in Jones Day’s stately premier arrondissement offices.  (This 18th century neoclassical beauty once housed the U.S. Embassy, site of the 1947 signing of the Marshall Plan – crafted by the Uniontown native who served as President Truman’s secretary of state.) There, executives from Westinghouse Electric Co., power conversion firm Converteam, and energy and transportation equipment providers Alstom Grid, along with Suzi and I, will meet with international business leaders to promote Pittsburgh’s growing portfolio of energy-related sectors. That includes not only our traditional gas, coal and nuclear, but also renewable energy technologies, intelligent building, and advanced manufacturing innovations that are producing the next generation of energy-related products and solutions. We’re focused on strengthening our region’s energy supply chain, and work with such partners as Westinghouse, Converteam and others is helping to make that happen.

Check back here at www.ImaginePittsburghOnline.com, the news blog of the Allegheny Conference and its affiliates, to read Suzi’s posts from the rest of the PRA trip.