Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Piggyback On Pittsburgh

One of the goals of Greater Youngstown 2.0 is to establish an infrastructure for better leveraging of publicity. The Entrepreneur magazine article is one example. How do we get that message out to prospective businesses and talent? Consider the logistics behind taking advantage of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh:

Local leaders here are hoping to be more effective in getting out the message that Pittsburgh wasn't named the Most Livable City for nothing.

Dennis Yablonsky, the Allegheny Conference's executive director, said his staff was going to spend the next two months developing ways to tell the region's story to the world over the two-day convention next month.

"We need to get the message out about the Pittsburgh economy and the Pittsburgh transformation story," he said. "We're going to use that media attention to generate a pipeline of companies thinking about Pittsburgh."

There is absolutely no reason why the Steel Valley can't tell its story why the world is watching Pittsburgh. What brings Revere Data to Youngstown can attract other companies. Furthermore, proximity to Pittsburgh (and Cleveland) is a strong selling point.

Don't forget that 4 out of the 5 Greater Youngstown counties are part of the Pittsburgh Regional Visioning Project. Mayor Jay Williams is on the steering committee and the initiative finally settled on a name:

Power of 32
32 Counties, 4 States, 1 Vision

The Pittsburgh pitch is now much more than just Allegheny County.


  1. Did I miss something? When did they add Allegany? And what's the 32nd county?

  2. Allegany was added per the request of the executive director after his visit to the Johnstown area.

  3. I'm sorry; not understanding this Pittsburgh renaissance concept. The largest employer of Western PA happens to be Alleghany County. The city wrote red ink for years. Outside of the New Orleans/Katrina tragedy, Pittsburgh is the only large metropolitan area that has natural population decline. It ranks low in terms of international immigrants and could eclipse Erie as the 3rd largest city in PA. What economic stimulus model is this, embracing shrinkage? This is Detroit or Buffalo on a much smaller scale. What is going on here that isn't consistent with much of the rust belt?

  4. What is going on here that isn't consistent with much of the rust belt?

    For one, growing population of young (post-graduate) and educated adults concentrated in the city center.

  5. Pittsburgh is indeed dying, just like the rest of the mid-west. Anyone that disagrees with that is simply biased or not understanding the local landscape. Companies are not relocating to Western, PA. Families are moving out; “brain-drain” (contrary to Mr. Russell's opinion) is the biggest challenge the area faces. I should know, I relocated from the Squirrel Hill.

    Save yourself, get out while you can…..

  6. Companies are not relocating to Western, PA. Families are moving out; “brain-drain” (contrary to Mr. Russell's opinion) is the biggest challenge the area faces.

    A blog about Youngstown isn't the appropriate place to discuss what is wrong with Pittsburgh. However, I can back up my opinion with data. Brain drain isn't the biggest problem. In fact, a bigger problem is too many natives staying put.

  7. Jim: Can you offer a rationale argument as to why a company/family of 4 would relocate to western PA - Pittsburgh in particular? I see things going on in Buffalo (of all places) that dwarf Pittsburgh. Even Cleveland is building a Medical Mart, new Convention Center, and is dumping $1 billion into the lakefront. I had to move my family from Moon township to Ohio simply becuase the local job market/economy was dismal.

  8. Jim: Can you offer a rationale argument as to why a company/family of 4 would relocate to western PA - Pittsburgh in particular?

    Data-wise, Pittsburgh's job market is far better than any place in Ohio save, perhaps, Columbus. The same goes for the Buffalo-Pittsburgh comparison. Relative to the entire Rust Belt, the numbers put Pittsburgh in a very favorable light. Cleveland is desperately trying to emulate Pittsburgh. That city is about 20-years behind. There is a good reason why we've seen so much Pittsburgh-envy in Cleveland over the past two years. If you look at human capital metrics, Buffalo looks like the bush leagues compared to Pittsburgh.

    That all said, in some economic sectors, one would be better off elsewhere. That includes Buffalo and the cities of Ohio. There is all kinds of talent dislocation in Pittsburgh and every other city.

    I'm curious to know more about your Buffalo-Pittsburgh comparison. I'm somewhat bullish on Buffalo and I think that city has some strong assets that would help it thrive.

  9. Jim, I struggle to find a majority that agree with you. The city is mired in economic depression. Opinions are one thing; blinding ignoring the facts and data are another.

    I was physically there on business last month and was horrified at the abandoned buildings and conditions of the general infrastructure. You're obviously from the area; take it from an objective "outsider" who travels the county on business - the downtown area is a mess. The surrounding suburbs do appear nicer as you get away from the city. However, I found the Weirton & Steubenville as simply an extension of the downtown Pittsburgh area. It just came off as a very dirty city.

  10. I'm not from the Pittsburgh area and I currently live in the Denver area. I'm very much an outsider and heavily dependent upon data when making any comparison.

    Also, I've lived and worked in Seattle, San Diego, Minneapolis, and DC (to name a few). I'm well-traveled with friends and family all over the country. I've seen the good, bad and ugly.

    If you must know, I was born in Erie. My father was a career GE employee (electrical engineer). We left Erie in the late 1970s. We moved to, of all places, Schenectady, New York. Then, it was on to Burlington, VT (where I graduated from high school). My early adult working years were as an economic vagabond during the recession of the early 1990s. I know the United States better than most. I will not concede authority to anyone who claims some privileged perspective on the matter. Positioning oneself as objective undermines your credibility. However, I am open to a difference of opinion.

    Impressions of a place (e.g. "dirty") is quite subjective.

  11. Wow, there are so many misinformed people that claim to know what they are talking about.

    To the guy above that thinks Buffalo is larger than Pittsburgh, I suggest a remedial geography class. And just because one person couldn't find a job in their industry and comes here to complain does not mean that the whole city is dying! LOL!

    I love all the idiots on the internet, they saw some empty businesses downtown so there are no jobs in Pittsburgh? Its called normal you fools, get a life.

  12. Look, western PA and Pittsburgh in particular is a complete disaster. Period, end of story. Anyone who attempts to argue that point doesn't quite get it.

  13. As suggested, I may be in the minority and I don't get it. No worries. I'm just a blogger. It isn't as if I can trick people into moving to Pittsburgh. I love the city, warts and all.

  14. "However, I found the Weirton & Steubenville as simply an extension of the downtown Pittsburgh area. It just came off as a very dirty city."

    - LOL, funny; hard to argue that. I've traveled to all 3 and all of them do look very similar. Here's the problem....that Ohio River valley (going as far south as Wheeling, as far east as Pittsburgh, and as far west as Steubenville, Cadiz, Cambridge, Ohio).....I've never seen an area of the United States as impoverished as that. Honestly, when I hear western Penn. and the Ohio river valley, I think of 3 things:
    1) Unemployment
    2) Abandoned steel mills
    3) Population migration

    Look, I've been to Pittsburgh enough to know they are trying to do some things to improve its image and retain local talent (Yes, Buffalo is far worse - don't understand the comparison), but much like the Midwest the metropolitan areas has big problems and the local/county governments aint fixing it. It is what it is.

  15. "Cleveland is desperately trying to emulate Pittsburgh. That city is about 20-years behind"

    - Jim, you're kidding..right? Professional football, probably. As an analogy, if Cleveland is living in the 1970's, than Pittsburgh is living in the 1920. The poster above is correct - $1 billion dollars is being dumped downtown. What on earth is Pittsburgh doing in terms of economic development? It's a crater between 2 mountains that suffers from an inferiority complex when compared to its big brother on Lake Erie. Not even close.

  16. Jim, you're kidding..right?

    Don't shoot the messenger. That's what folks in Cleveland are saying. Pretty clear you don't know what is going on in Cleveland. Some interesting things going on in pockets, but the city is rudderless right now.

  17. Never been to Cleveland, don't know anyone from Cleveland. Howe do you know what's going on there if you live in Seattle? Been to Youngstown...whoooo.....I mean, ok, look, the city is centrally located between New York/Chicago. Can't the city's leaders take advantage of that as well as companies that need to pass through to do business. Why can't the leaders have the foresight to get something built here, representing a satellite facility and bring jobs here?

    BTW...Jim apparently is a Pittsburgh guy. Let's ask Jim why he decided to relocate out of town?

  18. I live in the Denver area, not Seattle. Moved here from the DC area. I'm not from Pittsburgh. I spent a few months in the North Hills with my girlfriend. That's about the extent of my residential experience. I worked in a restaurant in Cranberry before landing an internship in DC. I moved to Colorado in order to attend graduate school in Boulder.

    How do I know what is going on in Cleveland? Unlike you, I've been there. Many times. I know lots of people from Cleveland and in Cleveland. Of those still in the Cleveland area, many of them are involved in economic development. Furthermore, I've made it my business to know what is going on in all Rust Belt cities. I study them. Visit them. Talk to people who live there and who left home. Follow the bloggers who have their fingers on the pulse of a particular city.

    Your comparison of Cleveland with Pittsburgh is nonsense.

  19. In 5+ posts, you've offered no facts or data and have supplied your blog with pure speculation and subjectivity. In essence, you appear to be a displaced Steeler fan that has convinced himself that there is a connection between superbowl victories and economic turnaround. Seriously, are you really comparing the destitute of Pittsburgh to Cleveland??? You cannot compare world class health care, bio-technology, and liberal arts to the economic poverty of western PA…period, end of story.

  20. In essence, you appear to be a displaced Steeler fan that has convinced himself that there is a connection between superbowl victories and economic turnaround.

    If that were the case, then I'd have a hard time explaining the economic collapse in the early 1980s on the heels of 4 SB victories.

    Go fish.

  21. Jim,

    What is the argument here?

    Mine is follows: The rust-belt included Detroit, virtually all of Ohio, western PA (Pittsburgh in particular) and upstate NY (Buffalo in particular). Of all those cities, probably Columbus, Ohio is the "shortest of the midgets". Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit are in very poor shape and probably beat the national average in terms of unemployment, sinking home values, and greater metropolitan GDP. A distant last is Pittsburgh PA.

    Jim, when the county government is the largest employer of Alleghany County, that's a problem. That's not economic growth, or improvement, or cause for hope...that's a bloated government. Pittsburgh is generally referred to as an extremely poor place to conduct business, the metropolitan school districts are probably unsalvageable, and the cost of living far exceeds an area of economic depression. Pure and simple Jim, Pittsburgh is on life support and its population will fall under 300k by 2015. No way am I moving a family or business there.

  22. Jim, when the county government is the largest employer of Alleghany County, that's a problem.

    I agree. The pension issue is another BIG problem. I have no idea how Pittsburgh is going to sort out that mess.

  23. Jim, why can't Youngstown lure a single business to the area?

  24. That's an asinine question. Youngstown has lured businesses to the area. I can think of two in just the past few months. What's with all the snarky comments from people who have no idea what is actually going on?


    The signs are not as common today, but apartment owners still have few vacancies. And Pittsburgh, for the second year, was ranked No. 1 with the highest rental occupancy rate among big cities nationwide as of June 30.

    The city's apartment buildings have an occupancy rate of 96.6 percent, a full percentage point below its top position in mid-2008, but still the best by a fairly sizable margin, said Greg Willett, M/PF vice president, research and analysis.

    "Pittsburgh simply is losing fewer jobs than most other metro areas, so the housing market is holding up better. Furthermore, Pittsburgh is one of just a handful of markets nationally where rents are still increasing," Willett said. "Rents went up 1.3 percent during the year that ended June 30, reaching an average of $860 per month."

    So much for the Pittsburgh skeptics.

  26. Nice talk about apartment rentals, I'll support my views with what really matters....unemployment and GDP growth facts:

    Unemployment in the Pittsburgh area rose a tenth of a percentage point to 9.1 percent in June, its highest rate in nearly 23 years, according to the latest numbers from the state Department of Labor & Industry.

    The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the seven-county Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is above Pennsylvania's rate of 8.3 percent, and the national rate of 9.5 percent, the agency said. Last month's unemployment rate was 2.6 percentage points higher than in June 2008.

    Four of the seven counties in the MSA saw slight increase in their seasonally adjusted unemployment rates from May to June: Armstrong, Beaver, Butler and Washington.

    Looking at non-seasonally adjusted data, the department found that goods-producing companies in the Pittsburgh region reduced jobs in June, as did service providers. But both sectors have lost jobs since June 2008. Manufacturing cut 10,300 jobs in June, more than any other sector, the agency found.

    It's not subjective's fact, the hillbilly riden city of Pittburgh, PA is dying faster than analog TV signals.

  27. Actually, the article I cite discusses employment data. You just don't read very well. In fact, you don't even offer much of a counterargument. Get back to me when you figure out the relationship between vacancies and the regional economy.

  28. Jim....I was tying economic depression to unemployment. You're tying non-vacancy in apartment rentals to the regional economy. Not quite understanding that one, but hey, you're the expert and study these dynamics for a living.

    Jim, Pittsburgh lost 5,000 people between 2007-2008. The city now acknowledges its lowest population of the past ten years. The air quality is the worst (rated) in the nation.

    You want me to subscribe to a theory that an economic renaissance is taking place based upon limited apartment rentals?

  29. I want you to understand that the lowest vacancy rates in the ENTIRE COUNTRY do not describe a city ravaged by economic woes.

    But there are other data points for you to consider. Since you bring up unemployment, Pittsburgh is doing better than most cities. It is definitely doing better than the national average. Which, by the way, is news. You'd have to go back to the early 1970s in order to find Pittsburgh in a state of such relative economic health.

    But you don't have to take my word for it. Check the numbers yourself:

    Best bone up on the facts before offering an opinion.

  30. Jim:

    Yes or No. Is Pittsburgh PA currently depressed economically?

  31. Jim,

    Yes or No. Is Detroit economically depressed? What about the county of Afganistan? Is that country economically depressed.

    Andy...for the record, can I please understand your defintion of regional economic depression?

  32. Jim,

    Can you articluate to me how (in your opinion) Detroit is economically depressed, yet Pittsburgh Pa is flourishing?

  33. Let's temper the rhetoric a bit. Let's just say, for now, that Detroit is economically depressed and Pittsburgh is not. Anyone who thinks the recent out-migration from Detroit, along with the spiking unemployment rate, is anywhere close to on par with the situation in Pittsburgh simply doesn't have a grasp of reality.

    The situation in Charlotte, NC is closer to that of Detroit than Pittsburgh is. That's using unemployment data.

  34. Jim,

    You want me to take you seriously, correct? So when I ask you if Pittsburgh is economically depressed and you say "no" (despite hard data suggesting population decline, corporate relocations out of the area, "brain drain"), that to me is mind-boggling. How you draw that conclusion based upon the facts?

    Is Pittsburgh in as bad shape as Detroit (or you alluding to Charlotte), I would answer no. Would I rather live in Cleveland, Ohio at this point instead of Pittsburgh? Yes (Note: I'll never quite understand the insatiable jealously the local Pittsburgh citizen has against their friends in northeastern, Ohio nor the “red-head” stepchild feelings that permeates from Alleghany county when the cities are discussed in the same sentence. I'll let you Browns/Steeler fans fight that battle).

    Look, all I'm saying there are big time problems in the mid-west in general. Given your expertise in the area, I'm sure you'd agree (less your personal biasses). Here's the ironic thing; where does one live? California, no. Florida where home prices are 50% of their orignial value, no. The Carolinas? Negative.

    I'm a mid-west type of person myself. I've just accepted this multi-state region is in dire straights.

  35. No, I'm not interested in whether or not you take me seriously. I'm glad you like Cleveland. It is a great city.

  36. Great....I'm talking to an "expert" that believes Pittsburgh isn't economically depressed and that Cleveland is a great city.

    Lacking some credabiliy there goodness....