Steve Bodnar

I had the opportunity over the past nine months to participate in the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), a program of Leadership Pittsburgh. Our class was asked to design and organize a PopUp! event – a temporary, low-cost initiative that has the ability to surprise, provoke and entertain in ways that change perceptions about the places where they occur. Ours was in the Mt. Washington neighborhood.


Early in the process, three core goals of the May 11 event were agreed upon: to introduce the city’s new Emerald View Park System; to engage Mt. Washington residents – particularly families – in the event; and to highlight the area’s vibrant business district. A consensus was reached to hold a 5K race and community day featuring a Wizard of Oz theme. I can’t say I entirely understand where the theme idea originated from, but it came to be, nonetheless.

Despite the less than perfect weather – actually, despite the terrible weather – the event was well received, well attended and the 5K course received glowing reviews for balancing some challenging stretches with flat sections. Quite a few runners expressed genuine surprise for how much the area’s roads had to offer for a race and for training runs.

An event like this doesn’t come together without the help of many individuals, groups and sponsors, far too many to list here, but the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and the business community deserve special recognition for embracing the project; it could not have been successful without their support. And, of course, Aradhna Malhotra Oliphant, Kristen Freiss with Leadership Pittsburgh for making the experience possible and pushing for it to be meaningful.

Leadership Pittsburgh is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a diverse group of leaders to serve southwestern Pennsylvania, impact the community and act as catalysts for positive change in our region. It is now accepting applicants for the 2013-2014 Leadership Development Initiative class here.

Phil Cynar

Pittsburgh’s iconic timepiece – the Kaufmann’s Clock at the Smithfield St. and Fifth Ave. entrance of Macy’s Downtown Pittsburgh – celebrated its 100th anniversary on May 17, 2013. The clock is named after the family-owned downtown department store, Kaufmann’s – the management of which was assumed by Macy’s in February 2006.

The iconic Kaufmann’s Clock

For a century, the imposing and ornate bronze clock has been used as a favorite meeting spot for generations of families, friends and lovers who would quip, “meet me under the clock,” when finalizing their social plans. It was an easy destination to spot and a place to be easily spotted.

At a ceremony under the famous clock this morning, a city proclamation was read declaring May 17, 2013 as “Meet Me Under the Clock” Day. Delivering the proclamation was Mr. McFeely, the “Speedy Delivery” man from the long-standing PBS children’s television show with roots in Pittsburgh, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Watch the video below to hear what one Pittsburgh icon of sorts – Mr. McFeeley – had to say about this iconic timepiece and why Pittsburgh’s love of tradition is a good thing.

The anniversary celebration spans two days, spilling into Saturday, May 18, when activities include a performance by the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters, street fair festivities, carnival games, dance performances, balloon art, food and more.  Activities begin at 10:00 a.m. and continue throughout the day at Macy’s Downtown Pittsburgh, 400 Fifth Ave.

Finally, if “it’s time” for you to sharpen your knowledge about Pittsburgh icons – such as the Kaufmann’s clock – click here for some fun facts and other trivia.

Sara Gaal

foodIt’s the most wonderful time of the year. Nope, not Christmas. It’s Greek Food Festival season!

Most Pittsburghers have their favorite festival but each one should be experienced at least once. The season kicks off with the 52nd Annual St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s Festival in Oakland – the biggest in the city. I selflessly went to taste-test the food and had the pleasure of meeting the church’s priest, Father Christopher Bender. He appreciates “the ability to share our culture with everyone. Our food and dance are living parts of our tradition.” The festival will see 30,000 people walk through their doors and will gross more than $400,000 for the church. So, while you eat the delicious spanikopita (spinach and cheese pie) and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and drink that shot of ouzo, you’ll feel good knowing the money is going right back to the church.

While I’m not Greek, I find these food festivals full of all walks of life. They bring people together over a shared love of good food, music and sense of community. I looked over to my right and sitting at one long table were an elderly couple, a 30-something couple with two kids, and a priest – all eating and talking to one another. I realized that table was a microcosm of Pittsburgh. Yes, we have a higher-than-average population of seniors but more and more 20- and 30-somethings moving to – or moving back to — the region to raise families of their own. So, if you haven’t already, spend an evening with friends and strangers and enjoy the Greek food festivals now through August. Opa!

Bill Flanagan

From the number of global groups that have turned up on our region’s doorstep in the past couple of weeks you might think the G-20 was here last fall instead of more than three years ago. Since the Pittsburgh Summit in 2009 we’ve hosted more than 30 civic leadership delegations from across the country, most of them led by Chambers of Commerce. For the most part they’ve been interested in the transformation story they heard about through all the coverage of the summit. We haven’t been tracking the international visits, but there seem to have been at least as many, if not more.

A couple of weeks ago a delegation from Hamilton, Ontario, another steel town in transition, came to look at innovation and entrepreneurship. They spent a weekend tooling around the East End of Pittsburgh and admiring the view from Mt. Washington. Last week, Tulsa, Oklahoma sent an advance team for an upcoming leadership visit this fall. They’re interested in how a one-industry town diversifies its economy and enhances its reputation.

On Sunday I told our story to a delegation organized by the government of Abu Dhabi, hosted by the American Middle East Institute. They’re here for the better part of the week, learning about free enterprise and the “power of Pittsburgh” to transform itself through public and private partnership. Yesterday, Global Pittsburgh brought over a group from eastern and central Europe interested in regional transformation and clean energy.

I had thought the interest in our region might flag so long after the summit, but so far this year it’s been picking up steam. Roanoke, Denver and Greenville, South Carolina have all reached out about visits in the fall, which happens to coincide with the Remaking Cities Congress being organized by CMU.  2013 is, after all, the 25th anniversary of Prince Charles’ visit to our region for the first and only remaking cities conference.

The online media are back on the case, too. The “Grumpy Traveler” calls Pittsburgh the “most under-rated” city in the United States in this recent post. The Wall Street Journal included Vibrant Pittsburgh in a story on cities in the Heartland reaching out to immigrants to offset population declines. (Separately we had worked together with VisitPittsburgh, the Hispanic Chamber and the Pittsburgh Promise to organize a Latino media tour during the weekend of the Pittsburgh Marathon, which had adopted a Cinco de Mayo theme.) The New York Times also featured local restaurants and food purveyors in an article on the emerging farm-to-table scene from Toledo to Pittsburgh entitled Replanting the Rust Belt, that begins, “Pittsburgh in springtime is an edible city.”

In the tourism space you’ve got to give VisitPittsburgh a lot of credit for keeping the story alive. In a recent e-newsletter, President and CEO Craig Davis noted that the organization generated $9 million in advertising equivalency value for the region just from its public relations efforts, attracting more than 1,000,000 visits each year to its website. We’re working closely with VisitPittsburgh and dozens of other partners on communication around the series of big events on tap in early June, the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, bookended by Riverlights, the dedication of the restored fountain in Point State Park and PointMade!, the celebration of the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage.

But I think the best of the lot I’ve seen recently is “Pittsburgh: The Movie,” a video project of Mt. Lebanon native Aron Zelkowicz, who just happens to be a professional cellist. The video speaks for itself – and it’s already generated about 124,000 views on YouTube. Enjoy.

Ben Kamber

On Location at the Quality of Life Technology Center

A unique collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, the Quality of Life Technology Center (QoLT) at Bakery Square is working to make life easier for people with disabilities and older adults. QoLT brings together the word-class assets of both universities to research and design cutting-edge robots and other technologies to allow people from all walks of life to live more independently. Dr. Rory Cooper, the center’s co-director from Pitt and Dr. Daniel Siewiorek, the center’s CMU co-director, discuss the mission of QoLT and why this university partnership makes sense.

From Lab to Market: Commercializing Quality of Life Technologies

What does it take to make the cutting-edge technologies being developed at the Quality of Life Technology Center (QoLT) available to the broader public? Randy Eager, QoLT’s industrial liaison officer joins Dr. Rory Cooper and Dr. Daniel Siewiorek to chat about the process of commercializing technologies and to showcase a few QoLT innovations that are being brought to market.

Bakery Square 2.0 Breaks Ground

With the success of Bakery Square (nearly all office space is leased), the time has come for Bakery Square 2.0 – the newest residential / office space development in Pittsburgh’s East End. Construction has begun on the 12-acre site of the former Reizenstein School, which is just across the street from the existing Bakery Square complex. Gregg Perelman, principal of Walnut Capital and Todd Reidbord, president of Walnut Capital, discuss the project’s scale and scope and the many green and sustainable features that will become part of the development.

Our Region’s Business airs Sundays at 11 a.m. on WPXI-TV. Hosted by the Allegheny Conference’s Bill Flanagan, the 30-minute business affairs program is co-produced with Cox Broadcasting. The program is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and at 3:30 p.m. Mondays. It also airs Sundays on WJAC-TV (Johnstown-Altoona) at 6 a.m. and WTOV-TV (Wheeling-Steubenville) at 6:30 a.m.

Franktuary owners Tim Tobitsch and Megan Lindsey say start-up costs in Tobitsch’s previous home in the New York metro area would have been triple what they are in Pittsburgh.  Photo Copyright John Heller/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Franktuary owners Tim Tobitsch and Megan Lindsey say start-up costs in Tobitsch’s previous home in the New York metro area would have been triple what they are in Pittsburgh. Photo Copyright John Heller/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

New York, Chicago, Philly, Boston. Innovative chefs and restaurateurs are increasingly flocking to Pittsburgh as a place where they can not only afford to open their dream business, but also to live and raise a family. As one new arrival recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Melissa McCart, “Easy living, affordable everything and a burgeoning food scene: This is an area that will soon get attention on a national level.”

McCart cites what we like to call “the power of Pittsburgh” – that friendly willingness to share information and nurture the economic growth of others to the benefit of the whole community –  that’s given rise to such welcome additions as Notion, Bluebird Kitchen, Cure, Root 174, Fukuda, Stagioni and Franktuary.

Read more about it here.