On the Move

Posted ago by Jerry Paytas


Fourth Economy is on the move in more ways than one.  One of the big moves is our new space at 1501 Preble Avenue on Pittsburgh’s North Side.  While this move is only 2.5 miles in distance, it represents a major milestone in our company’s growth as we move from our startup space into an expansion space.  We are also on the move around the country, working in Providence, RI; Fargo, ND; Detroit, MI; and Buffalo, NY, in addition to working intensely in our home base of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Higher Eds use Economic Impact Studies for what?!

Posted ago by Susan Fisher

University-Economic-Impact-StudyThe answer is Higher Eds use economic and social impact studies for a lot of different reasons. Underlying is the desire to showcase their good work and demonstrate the value their work creates. And they want to communicate that value in terms that will resonate with internal and external audiences.  Audiences may include: public officials, policy makers, community residents, investors, and Higher Ed faculty, staff, students and alumni. Economic and social impact studies help Higher Eds compete for state funding, maintain their tax-exempt status, help defend against criticism and help increase fund-raising.

FEC Projects Impact for One-of-a-Kind Trail Plan: Pike2Bike

Posted ago by Steve McKnight

Pike2BikeThere is a potential big deal brewing in the world of trails. The FEC team always challenges our clients to identify their unique value proposition.  What sets your community or region apart from all others?  A major destination trail envisioned for an abandoned portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike would do just that for Bedford and Fulton Counties. 

Blurring Boundaries: Creating Regional Competitiveness Through Collaboration

Posted ago by ChrystalAlexander


An Article About the 4th Annual Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group Community Development Summit

Collaboration is more popular than ever.  It is also more necessary than ever as our most pressing problems continue to increase in complexity. Our problems are challenging and they spill over geographical boundaries and jurisdictional political lines that are sometimes arbitrarily or historically created. The people that form the economies of our region often don’t understand those boundaries in the same way that economic developers and community organizers do and that increases the need for collaboration across boundaries.

Pittsburgh is a community that talks a lot about collaboration. There are several organizations focused on increasing collaborative efforts and using those collaborations to increase the competitiveness of this region. Even at the highest levels of the cities leadership—the Mayor’s office—collaboration has become a central focus. This year, at the 4th Annual PCRG Summit, Fourth Economy moderated a panel of four leaders that offered practical advice to participants on how to make partnerships more productive.

Fourth Economy Helps Launch North Dakota-Minnesota Regional Action Plan

Posted ago by Steve McKnight

Valley-Prosperity-Partnership6 Key Priorities Shape the Economic Development Agenda

Regional industry, especially homegrown industry, must be an integral stakeholder in the development of strong and effective regional economic development partnerships. It cannot be said enough. This was emphasized once again in Fourth Economy’s recent engagement with our friends from the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota.

By far the Valley Prosperity Partnership (VPP) is one of the strongest industry-led efforts we have seen, both in terms of time and money.  In addition to industry, it included two of the region’s regional economic development organizations and, oh yeah, two states.  For those who have worked in regional efforts like this, you know it is no small task.

Spurred by the encouragement and investment from Forum Communications, Inc. business owner Bill Marcil, the VPP is comprised of private sector business leaders, economic developers, and college and university presidents who are collaborating and leveraging resources to develop a unified, vision for high value and sustained economic growth for all Red River Valley residents. The Red River Valley region encompasses 13 counties Eastern North Dakota and Western Minnesota including the cities of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Fargo and Moorhead.

This month, Fourth Economy joined the VPP Steering Committee in releasing an action-oriented economic development strategy identifying six focus areas for high value and sustained economic growth in the Red River Valley.

“Our region needs talented people, great places, sensible public policies, good ideas, and a diverse economic base. The Valley is in a position of prosperity. This action plan isn’t a response to an economic downturn; rather, it is one that seeks to build on our strengths.” said Tammy Miller, committee co-chair and CEO of Border States Electric.

“The VPP is unique for a couple of reasons. First, we believe this is the first time a Valley-wide group of this nature has formed to affect economic development. Second, the VPP is, by design, comprised of businesses, our research universities, and technical colleges. Third, our input and impact will be felt on both sides of the river,” Miller added.

Fourth Economy, in partnership with the VPP, undertook an extensive outreach effort to gather input and collect background information.  Hundreds of interviews and focus groups with regional stakeholders along with hours of research culminated in the plan that aims to improve the economy up and down the Red River Valley region.

The strategic plan identifies six key areas for action:

  • Workforce attraction, development and retention
  • Water security and management for the Valley
  • University research capacity and relevancy
  • Entrepreneurial activity and output
  • Infrastructure development and capital improvements
  • Perceptions of the Valley

Each priority area includes detailed strategies and actions that build on the Valley’s unique assets. For instance, the Valley has industry and research strengths that are built upon in the Research and Entrepreneurship priorities, including unmanned systems (aerial and ground-based), big data (home to one of the largest Microsoft operations outside of California) and precision agriculture (crop management through unmanned and IT-based systems). In the Workforce priority, strategies and actions build upon the Valley’s unique cultural, environmental, and physical assets to target potential boomerangs and veterans.

“With each of these priorities we hope to inspire business leaders and residents throughout the Valley to engage with the VPP to turn this vision into action,” said Steve Burian VPP co-chair and CEO of AE2S.  “We have worked to balance ambitious goals and vision with a realistic action plan to sustain prosperity in the Valley,” Burian added.

Fourth Economy has been fortunate to work on several economic development collaboratives in recent years.  While some focus on a particular regional strength or market opportunity, the two key factors common to their success are: 1) Industry leadership (both time and money); and 2) Initiating the planning effort during times of economic strength.  It is always most effective to work to sustain and manage existing growth with a thriving industry base than trying to rebuild when times are tough. With its commitment to regionalism, action-oriented thinking and deep industry engagement, the VPP offers a model for diverse cross-border engagement.

Congratulations to our friends in the Valley Prosperity Partnership on these key steps forward.  We will be in touch with them going forward and hope to share their experience on a national scale.

For more information visit: www.valleyprosperitypartnership.com

Made in [insert state name]

Posted ago by Ali Mabel

Made-in-insert-state-hereDuring our projects across the United States this past year, Fourth Economy has come across a number of initiatives for supporting local manufacturers and boosting the local economy. One approach gaining popularity is the state-based “Made In” branding and associated database of the state’s manufacturing businesses.

Pennsylvania Life Science Industry – A Quick Check on the Numbers

Posted ago by Rich Overmoyer

LifeSciencesTwo year’s ago this month the Fourth Economy team completed an assignment for the Pennsylvania Life Science Leadership Advisory Council. At a news event in May 2012 we participated in the release of “Life Sciences Leadership for the Next Decade: Nurturing a Life Science Ecosystem for Job Creation and Economic Development in Pennsylvania”. This report highlighted five steps and related actions that the life science community could undertake to maintain the economic impact of the life science industry in the state.

ChemCeption incubator to launch April 2014

Posted ago by Fourth Economy

140303-Chemception-LaunchThe Fourth Economy team has been assisting the Chemical Alliance Zone with re-establishing a chemistry-focused business incubator in the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston, WV. The incubator will be a key part of the West Virginia, regional, and national innovation economy. It will assist local and national chemistry-related entrepreneurs by facilitating access to strategic lab facilities, specialized commercialization expertise, and other regional resources.

Makers, Starters, and Youngsters – The Evolution of Pittsburgh’s Workforce Development

Posted ago by ChrystalAlexander

Burgh-BridgeAs chairperson of the Workforce Development, Jobs, and Human Capital Subcommittee of the Economic Development Transition Team assembled by our new Mayor, Bill Peduto, I had the opportunity to meet with some of the high-level leaders driving workforce development in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. While our short time frame prevented me from interviewing all the persons of interest, executives at UPMC, the Allegheny Conference, TechShop, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, the Workforce Investment Board, the Youth Policy Council, the Small Business Development Center at Pitt, the New App for Making it in America, and others were able to make time to meet with members of our sub-committee on extremely short notice. Beyond the executive level input we received from the community, our subcommittee was highly qualified to make recommendations to the administration on the merit of our own qualifications. We were made up of small business owners, consultants, labor union executives, student researchers, and native Pittsburghers. From my experiences interacting with this collection of experts, three segments of workforce development opportunities emerged that are dominating the market today and into Pittsburgh’s future.

The Launch of Innovate H2O

Posted ago by Steve McKnight

Innovate-H2ONew ideas fuel the fourth economy.  But they need the right talent, money and a market ready to greet them.  There are few market opportunities that need new ideas and innovation than those within the water sector.  In 2012, Fourth Economy helped to launch the Water Economy Network (WEN).  A key goal for WEN and its industry members is to encourage new water related technology development and deployment.  To help WEN achieve that goal, Fourth Economy and WEN joined with Idea Foundry (a Pittsburgh-based non-profit that specializes in innovation acceleration and commercialization) to launch a water technology acceleration program called Innovate H2O. Innovate H2O is a program aimed at identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions that address global water challenges.