Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, once the beating heart of the US steel industry and a booming industrial centre. That is until the latter part of the 20th century, with the process of de-industrialisation came the collapse of the steel industry and a seemingly irreversible decline throughout America’s industrial heartland. Pittsburgh however, through concerted effort and three decades of smart policy making at all levels of local government, has managed to buck this trend. According to the 2013 report by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Allegheny County closed out the year with the largest workforce in regional history, with 115,000 more employed than at its industrial peak in 1979.

The potential of people recognised

A key component of this success has been a strong and early recognition of the importance and potential of human capital. The Ben Franklin Partnership, a state level initiative created in 1982, has worked with universities and colleges in the region in order to utilise their expertise in science and technology to strengthen job creation. In 2001 the Tobacco Settlement Act created the Tobacco Settlement Investment Board, a state level body dedicated to the re-investment of funds received from a settlement with the tobacco industry in 1998. The vast majority of these funds were invested in the Health Venture Investment Account which provides resources to start-ups, particularly life sciences companies throughout the state. This sector employs around 140,000 people in Pittsburgh alone with the largest employer in the region, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, providing 43,000 full-time jobs and generating $10 billion in revenue in 2013. 2004 saw the establishment of two Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZ) in Pittsburgh, both formed in partnership with local universities with the express intent of fostering ‘knowledge neighbourhoods’ in an effort to retain talented young graduates through job creation. The first of these; The Greater Oakland KIZ, is a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie-Mellon University, specialising in software engineering, computer technologies and medicine. The second;  The Pittsburgh Central KIZ was formed in partnership with Duquesne University and Robert Morris University, focuses on digital media, cyber security, nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals and compliance engineering.

A view of the Pittsburgh skyline from Duquesne University

Green and going places

Through these efforts, Pittsburgh, alongside the state of Pennsylvania as a whole, has become something of a poster child for economic renewal in the United States. Alongside its economic diversification the city has seen a great increase in green construction, with Pittsburgh boasting 39 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings including America’s first green convention centre.   The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Pittsburgh the most liveable city in the Continental United States twice, in 2009 and in 2014, with similar recognition from Forbes in 2010. In 2009 the city played host to the G-20 summit during which President Barack Obama lauded the city’s achievements stating:  “Pittsburgh stands as a bold example of how to create new jobs and industries while transitioning to a 21st century economy.”

Boasting an impressive array of both start-ups and established names in the high tech and life sciences sectors (Including Intel, Apple, Google and GlaxoSmithKline) and demonstrating an impressive level of continuing cooperation and integration between corporate, academic and governmental interests, Pittsburgh and the State of Pennsylvania are great examples of the value real investment in intellectual capital can provide.


Pittsburgh FAQ

Mayor: Bill Peduto (D)

Population: 305,841 (City) 2,360,867 (Metropolitan Area) Sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau

Gross Metropolitan Product: (2013) $131.3 billion Sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau

Key Areas for Investors: High technology, advanced manufacturing, biomedical sciences, software.

Top universities

Carnegie Mellon University (Times World Ranking 2014: 24)

University of Pittsburgh (Times World Ranking 2014: 91)

It should be noted that Pittsburgh is home to 68 College and University campuses both privately and publicly funded.

What the papers say

Carnegie Robotics wins $22.8m contract from U.S. Army (October 9 2013 Pittsburgh Tribune Review)

Useful links

Mayor’s Office: http://pittsburghpa.gov/mayor/

Chamber of Commerce: http://www.greaterpittsburghchamberofcommerce.com/

Greater Oakland Keystone Innovation Zone: http://launchpgh.com/

Imagine Pittsburgh: http://imaginepittsburgh.com/

Pittsburgh business news: http://www.post-gazette.com/business http://triblive.com/business/

Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau: http://www.planpittsburgh.com/