Bill Flanagan
Bill Flanagan (center, holding Best of World proclamation) and VisitPittsburgh’s Craig Davis (right of Bill) surrounded by City Council members on Oct. 16, 2012.

They’re back! Three years after the G-20 summit, leaders from around the world are converging on our region this week — only this time they are emerging leaders in town for the One Young World Summit. The global event is the latest in a year in which we’ve been celebrating Pittsburgh’s designation by National Geographic Traveler as a “Best of the World” destination in 2012. It’s also been a “year for youth” in our region.

Throughout 2012, the Allegheny Conference has joined forces with VisitPittsburgh, Vibrant Pittsburgh and numerous other partners to deliver a message about emerging opportunity to more than 10,000 young people who have convened here for major conferences and conventions. The National Society of Black Engineers led the way in March, followed by the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May. Now One Young World is bringing more than 1,000 delegates to Pittsburgh from almost every country in the world for a four-day summit designed to bring a youthful perspective to important global issues. Kudos to the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh for organizing the One Young World Pittsburgh Partnership to host the event.

In addition to the enthusiasm of hundred of emerging leaders from around the world — who will have the chance to interact with their local peers at dozens of breakout sessions and community dinners around the region — One Young World is bringing global luminaries to guide their deliberations. Former President Bill Clinton kicks things off Thursday night.  Just yesterday, it was announced that former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will be here as well. It’s a rare opportunity to showcase our region to truly influential people. And, unlike the G-20, when Downtown Pittsburgh was pretty much on lockdown, this time out all of these visitors will get to experience the region at its best – with the autumn foliage in full vibrancy as well. Hundreds of volunteers are helping out, many of them speaking foreign languages and pulled from local colleges and universities.
Pittsburgh City Council has recognized all the hard work everyone has put into our “Best of the World” effort with an official proclamation. I was very pleased to have the opportunity – alongside with Craig Davis of VisitPittsburgh – to accept the “Best of the World” proclamation from Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday. Sponsored by Councilman Corey O’Connor, the proclamation recognizes the ongoing efforts of VisitPittsburgh, the Allegheny Conference and others to make the most of the best of the world designation.

The team effort has delivered results, both in terms of visits and media exposure. VisitPittsburgh expects hotels in Allegheny County to log more than 10 million overnight visits before the year is out. In addition to the conferences mentioned above, the region has hosted the three-month Distinctively Dutch festival organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the Warhol Museum’s Factory Direct artists residencies, the National Association of Counties convention and iGEM, the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition, which this past weekend brought hundreds of undergraduate teams to Duquesne University from throughout the United States and Canada.

We’ve also leveraged the “Best of the World” designation to tell a wider, virtual audience about the ways in which our region has managed to thrive through uncertain times, and even emerge as a thought leader in the area of public-private partnership, R&D and business innovation. Increasingly we’re being called the new center of American energy, with nationally leading strengths in coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, transmission and distribution, and intelligent building. There’s been coverage in USA Today, Forbes, Bloomberg News, National Public Radio, La Croix and The Washington Post, as well as in multi-page spreads in Architectural Record and Site Selection among many more.

As the One Young World delegates begin arriving for Thursday’s summit kickoff, we look forward to continuing to get the word out. We’ll be posting stories, videos and photos about the gathering and its participants throughout the weekend here at the Allegheny Conference’s blog, www.ImaginePittsburghNow.com, at Facebook.com/PittsburghRegion and Twitter.com/ImaginePgh, under the hashtag #OYW.

Stay tuned. And thanks as always for your commitment to our region.

A leading commercial real estate developer has underscored its faith in the regional market by breaking ground for construction of an office building Cranberry Township in anticipation of anchor tenants.

Elmhurst Group broke ground on May 25 on a Class A office building at Cranberry Crossroads, its 24-acre site along Route 228 that will also be home to a Dick’s Sporting Goods store, a restaurant and multi-tenant retail buildings.

From left: Cranberry Twp. Supervisor John Skorupan; Jim Noland, The ERECT Fund; Elmhurst Group President Bill Hunt; Andy Gildersleeve, Director of Development/Construction for Elmhurst Group; Butler County Commissioners Dale Pinkerton and Bill McCarrier.

The three-story, 90,000-square-foot office development will offer highly visible signage, parking space for 360 vehicles and easy access to Interstate 79, the Turnpike and Route 19. The building will be completed in late 2012.

Class A space is coveted in Butler County’s Cranberry Township, where sectors including energy, health care and life sciences are growing, and such large employers as Westinghouse Electric Co., McKesson and Siemens already make their home.

“Elmhurst is pleased to move forward with Cranberry Crossroads, not only because of the growth with the Cranberry market, but also because our location is ‘Main and Main’ within that very market,” said Elmhurst Group President Bill Hunt.

Dewitt Peart, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, which markets the 10-county region for business relocation and attraction, congratulated Hunt and Elmhurst for their vision and commitment to the region.

“The speculative development comes in response to strong demand, and is a sign of the developer’s confidence in the region’s real estate market,” Peart said.

The construction is supported by a $1.9 million loan from the Commonwealth Financing Authority through the Building PA program, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Building PA provides financing to eligible developers in small and mid-sized communities to help grow and diversify the economy. Cranberry Crossing is expected to create at least 300 jobs, the department said.

Elmhurst Group is a commercial real estate business founded 36 years ago. It operates more than 2.5 million square feet of office, hotel, distribution and flex space at 18 sites across western Pennsylvania, and employs 200 people.