It’s a new year for the world and a special anniversary for the Pittsburgh region. 2013 marks 30 years since Pittsburgh’s economy hit bottom. The steel industry’s collapse crippled the region, its economy and its people. Marking the difference made by three decades of vision and collaboration – which resulted in a re-imagined and re-made region – is the retrospective, “Pittsburgh’s Progress: Rust Belt City Reinvents Itself.” It’s a six-page report in the current (Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013) edition of the Financial Times’ magazine of globalization, fDi (Foreign Direct Investment).
In the fall of 2012, fDi Senior Reporter and Markets Editor Michal Kaczmarski traveled to the region from London to explore the “rethinking” of Pittsburgh, as he characterizes the metamorphosis that’s taken place here. He writes, “Pittsburgh was all but written off in the 1970s and 1980s … however, the city’s focus on technological and biotech innovation, combined with an environment that encourages entrepreneurship, has turned its fortunes full circle.”
While on the ground, Kaczmarski toured a number of business, academic and quality-of-life assets – the latter including the new “Living Building” Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory, a model of the region’s leadership and innovation in energy and sustainability and one of the greenest buildings on the planet. He also met and talked with a number of regional movers and shakers who provided him with perspective on how Pittsburghers imagined and galvanized a radical transformation from an industry-driven economy of old to one that’s now fueled by knowledge and innovation. Today, this economy, balanced and diversified, has rewarded Pittsburgh with a stability that’s allowed it to outperform benchmark cities and the nation as a whole, even during the Great Recession.
Among the notable leaders Kaczmarski met – and who are quoted in the fDi special report – are Knopp Biosciences’ Tom Petzinger; Henry Thorley of 4moms; Arif Sirinterlikci, director of Robert Morris University’s engineering laboratories (the university and its engineering expertise have been instrumental to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute for which ground has been broken in the greater region); serial entrepreneur Luis von Ahn; and Nathan Martin of Deeplocal.
He also talked with several 20- and 30-something entrepreneurs and young professionals who have opted to chose Pittsburgh (over places like Philadelphia, Atlanta and D.C.) or who have made the decision to stay in their hometown and give Pittsburgh a chance. None was disappointed, as you’ll read. As one woman told Kaczmarski, “The vibe in Pittsburgh is great. There is something about this city that makes you collaborative and entrepreneurial.”
Nearly 15,000 fDi subscribers will be getting this – and more – fresh perspective on Pittsburgh via the special report, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the organization that markets the Pittsburgh region for domestic and international business investment. In addition, the report will have special circulation among the 2,000-plus delegates expected at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23 – 27. The World Economic Forum is considered the foremost creative force for engaging leaders in collaborative activities focused on shaping the global, regional and industry agendas in an effort to improve the world.
The theme for the 2013 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is “Resilient Dynamism” … “bold vision and even bolder action.” Pittsburgh has demonstrated these in its own transformation – examined in the fDi special report – making the region a model worth reading about.
See the complete report on Pittsburgh’s progress here. Get to know fDi Senior Markets Editor Michal Kaczmarski better and hear his first impressions of Pittsburgh during his maiden voyage in 2011 in this video clip.