Embedding Equity Into Economic Development

Guest Blog by Sarah Treuhaft, Director of Equitable Growth Initiatives, PolicyLink

Treuhaft-Inequit-BlogIt is another summer in which America’s deep racial fault lines are being painfully exposed. Following the horrific violence in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, in a July 8 poll seven in ten Americans said race relations are “generally bad.” A National League of cities analysis of one hundred “state of the city” speeches from 2016 found that mayors increasingly view racism and inequities as major threats to progress in their cities.
Continue reading “Embedding Equity Into Economic Development”

Data Assisting in the Fight Against Blight


What do Baltimore, MD and South Bend, IN have in common? While it seems like the two could not be more different, both are noted for their data-driven blight and vacant property strategies. Baltimore, for example, uses a GIS system to complement streamlined disposition processes with strategic code enforcement. South Bend maps property information including planning and code enforcement details at a single location. While the connection between vacant property, blight, code enforcement, and planning are all closely related, it is not always easy to connect the data behind these issues. Continue reading “Data Assisting in the Fight Against Blight”

The Challenge of Creating Actionable Plans

Burket-Blog-Web-05-2016As part of our work in our hometown of Pittsburgh, we have been digging into all of the plans that have been created over the past five years or so. So far, we’ve found around two-dozen plans, reports, or studies on all manner of community, workforce, and economic development topics. Of those, about five have well-articulated goals, actions, responsible parties, though the form and detail of those components varies from plan to plan. And even with detailed actions, the degree to which those plans are being implemented varies a great deal. Our experience in Pittsburgh is not unique – we see the same trend in the other places that we work. So why is it, that despite our best wishes and intentions, it is so hard to create actionable plans? Continue reading “The Challenge of Creating Actionable Plans”

How the Private Sector is Paying for Public Innovation

Evans-Blog-20160405City governments have experienced increasing financial strain over the past several decades – pension payments are coming due, infrastructure needs replacing, and the cost of providing social services is increasing. This leaves little room for local governments to get on the social finance innovation train that has been sweeping the private sector for the past few decades, where bright minds have been exploring social enterprise, low-profit limited liability companies, impact investment, and more. However, many have recognized the importance of bridging the gap between private sector innovation and government, leading to organizations across the sectors investing time and money devising ideas that may fill this void. Continue reading “How the Private Sector is Paying for Public Innovation”

Welcome Pia Bernardini

Fourth Economy welcomes Pia Bernardini to our team in the role of Operations Manager.

Pia oversees operations and administration for Fourth Economy. She has many years of experience in operations, marketing, and communications in the educational field in Washington, DC, and has been a key member of executive leadership teams, contributing to the development of strategic priorities and annual operational plans. Pia has strong project management skills and has had responsibility for operations, admissions, marketing, and data management. Her day-to-day tasks are focused on efficiency and consistency. She also has experience working at companies in periods of tremendous growth and change, including venture capital initiatives. She understands how to operate effectively in a start-up environment, developing creative solutions.

Pia holds a BA in Art History and Italian and Art History from the University of Virginia and an MA in Linguistics from Georgetown University.

What Is Not Being Addressed that Will Kill Your Economic Development Strategy

BooksforBlogAt this point I think we are all familiar with the struggles facing Detroit Public Schools, at least on the surface: mushrooms growing in schools, teacher strikes, financial crisis. However, as detailed by this incredibly thorough and thoughtful report by LOVELAND Technologies, 200 years worth of poor decision-making led Detroit to where it is today. This speaks to the need for a new approach to public accountability in our education system. Recognizing the critical role of public education to economic development, in Nashville, it has been the Chamber that has been stepping up to provide that platform for accountability by conducting annual holistic assessments and concrete recommendations for improvement. Continue reading “What Is Not Being Addressed that Will Kill Your Economic Development Strategy”

Leveraging the Third Industrial Revolution for a New Community Development Platform

CommunityforBlogWe recently had the opportunity to participate in the Inspire Speaker Series  https://www.go-gba.org/events/inspire-speakers-series-and-p4-pittsburgh-present-jeremy-rifkin-and-bill-generett/ with 21 book author and advisor to global leaders, Jeremy Rifkin.  His latest book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014) builds on his thoughts contained in The Third Industrial Revolution (2013) and in general tightly describes the trends that many of us are starting to see in our work and in our communities.  We strongly encourage you to take a look at his writings and TED talks as they help put a lot into perspective.

With that said, we would like to start a conversation about an area that we think was missing from this talk – that is the People aspect of the Third Industrial Revolution. Rifkin’s writings and presentations detail the path that has brought us to today and highlight some of the economists, scientists, theorists and leaders who have contributed to the journey. What is missing, though, is a contemplation of the actions of the masses and movements that have shaped and more importantly will shape our future. Rifkin does touch on the concept of the Commons as a way to describe points in time when the people have organized and mobilized, but there is more to contemplate here.

Continue reading “Leveraging the Third Industrial Revolution for a New Community Development Platform”

Fourth Economy Co-Founder to take CEO Position in Blair County, Pennsylvania

I would like to convey my great appreciation and affection for all of my Fourth Economy team, clients and community as I announce that I will be leaving the firm to take on the President and CEO position at the Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corporation in Blair County, Pennsylvania later this spring.

ABCD President and CEO Martin J. Marasco announced his retirement last month following a highly acclaimed and recognized 40-year tenure. Marty and ABCD have been consistently recognized as one the highest performing economic development organizations in Pennsylvania and throughout the mid-Atlantic region. This move represents a return home for me. I grew up in Blair County and “cut my teeth” in the economic development world working with ABCD from 2000 to 2007 as Director of Corporate Services and Government Affairs.

Times like these are truly bitter sweet as my family and I prepare for this new professional and personal phase of our life. Rich, Jerry and I have been together for almost 10 years working with communities across the country and building Fourth Economy into the firm it is today – a firm with a very strong national brand and an assembly of the best group of professionals any firm can offer. It has been more family than business to me, so while I am truly excited about this opportunity, it is tough to leave a group of great close friends and colleagues.

So as I move back to the practitioner side of things, a sincere thanks to all for making my tenure here at Fourth Economy so rewarding on every level. Between February 1 and April 1, I can be reached by email at stevejmcknight@gmail.com.

Fourth Economy Is Hiring

Fourth Economy Consulting is looking for an Operations Manager for our Pittsburgh, PA headquarters office. Fourth Economy is a dynamic and creative economic and community development strategy company with a growing portfolio of successful regional and national engagements.

The chosen candidate will support operations in three areas: administrative, financial and client engagement. This is a pivotal position as we look to continue to grow and serve our diverse portfolio of clients. We are seeking someone looking to commit a minimum of 20 hours a week with the potential for full-time.

If you are interested in learning more, download the complete position description here.

If you would like to be considered, please send a Cover Letter that indicates why you are interested in joining our team and a resume that highlights your relevant experience to Rich Overmoyer at rovermoyer@fourtheconomy.com. Rich will also address any questions you may have about the opening.

PA Standing at the Ready: Creating Proactive Strategies for Potential Changes in Defense Spending

PA-Defense-ManufacturingDefense Department budgets are in flux. Factors such as the Budget Control Act, reductions or shifts in spending related to the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan and responses to future threats could all create significant economic disruptions for Pennsylvania’s defense industry sectors and the regions they call home.  The state’s defense industry leaders and the communities that support them cannot afford to risk being caught unprepared by waiting for news of budget changes and then reacting to them.  Instead, it is imperative that the sector understands potential risks and prepares for them proactively.   Continue reading “PA Standing at the Ready: Creating Proactive Strategies for Potential Changes in Defense Spending”