Comeback City. Best Place to Live. Best to Visit…It’s a good feeling when your hometown receives so much attention. Living in Pittsburgh inspires a sense of pride and as I travel around the country, I am always happy to tell people about the highlights of our region’s transformation. That travel though has also opened my eyes to the fact that we are not doing enough to retain those titles. There are issues in our community, our economy and our civic and social infrastructure that must be addressed if we want to wear the badge of pride into the next decade.
It’s no secret that the best strategic plans are based on qualitative and quantitative analysis, using this information to determine the best allocation of resources to pursue growth and change. Too often, strategic planning processes “jump right in” and do not take the time to fully understand and quantify current and expected conditions. Change cannot be measured without first analyzing existing conditions to establish a baseline dataset from which change can be measured. This approach also applies to regional energy planning. As regions consider energy in relation to economic development planning, there are direct correlations to the impact energy has on people, place, and ideas. Establishing a regional energy baseline must be the first step before tactical planning can occur.
Additionally, energy planning is an often-ignored element in developing regional economic development strategies. Energy is a universal business itself, however it also impacts every single industry and business within a region. Energy directly impacts the health of people across a region, and is a critical element to regional success. How can economic development planning occur without energy planning?
Many state governments have devoted a great deal of resources over the past decade to mitigating and responding to climate change through energy and urban planning related efforts. Planners and energy experts are fluent in the language of sustainability, adaptation, resiliency, and mitigation. But ask an economic development official what climate change means to them and it’s possible that they can barely utter the word. Many in the business community have feared that climate change will simply mean more costly equipment upgrades to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In too many communities, time is still spent debating the veracity of climate science instead of recognizing the impacts already occurring. Economic development officials have a responsibility to help businesses understand the greater implications of climate change – how they can protect themselves from the effects of climate change; how they could develop new products or services in response to climate change; and how they should prepare themselves to recover from climate-related events.
Fourth Economy Consulting announces the latest release of its national community index, listing top counties from across the nation. The Fourth Economy Index highlights those communities ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth within the fourth economy.
PITTSBURGH, PA – The latest release of the Fourth Economy Community Index (FEC Index, #FECIndex) was announced today listing the nation’s top ten mega-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities are recognized as the regions ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth among all regions with a population greater than 500,000 people.
Fourth Economy Consulting is pleased to introduce the newest member of our team: Jason Bernard, our Director, Emerging Partnerships.
Jason brings to the table over a decade of experience as a strategic planner, facilitator and business developer. He spent that time leading strategic planning retreats, focus groups and workshops for clients in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. At Fourth Economy, he will focus his energy on advancing the Water Economy Network and assisting our team with the facilitation and management of client projects.
Jason lives in the Brighton Heights section of Pittsburgh’s North Side with his wife and their three month old baby girl. In what little free time he has left, he enjoys taking his dog to the dog park, shooting pool and irrationally obsessing over his favorite sports teams. An occasional actor, Jason has been seen on a number of local stages, commercials, and the silver screen.
In the words of Steve Wozniak, “If you’re that rare engineer who’s an inventor and also an artist, I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.”
Micropreneurs are a unique breed of business owner who independently work in a niche market, are willing to accept the risk of starting and managing the type of business that remains small, strive for a balanced lifestyle and have the chance to do the work they want to do. Similar to the old-world model of the neighborhood butcher, cobbler and blacksmith, micropreneurs offer products that make a difference and provide amazing value to niche markets. Modern versions of micropreneurs include programmers/developers, writers, solo consultants and online boutique owners (think Etsy). These distinct business owners strive for little to no expansion, are happy to work alone with no employees and are willing to forego outside funding. One discernible advantage that modern micropreneurs have is access to the Internet which allows them to launch and offer their products or services to a world-wide audience.
As part of our ongoing efforts to engage with the sectors that drive economic development, Fourth Economy joined the Pittsburgh Arts Research Committee (PARC)—an advisory committee to the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. The PARC worked with the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation to review and comment on their study of small and mid-sized arts organizations in and around Pittsburgh, PA. On October 28, the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation rolled out the final report with a daylong event including panel discussions, breakout sessions and networking called The Unsung Majority.
After hundreds of hours speaking with the leaders of America’s transformed cities, analyzing data until our eyes crossed and summarizing all of our findings in an action oriented report, I am ready to provide you with the cliff notes. To summarize, we found that there are nine key themes to consider if you are looking to transform your community.
It has been a busy year here at Fourth Economy. Many projects have kept us hard at work, traveling across the country and meeting great folks. A theme among these projects has been a growing desire and recognition for all places, communities and towns to reinvent themselves – transform, reimagine, pivot – all in order to attract new investment and the talent that fuels it. And within this theme is a common recognition that without quality options to live, sleep and interact, it is tough to attract that talent. Housing and the context that surrounds a community’s housing stock is (or should be) a cornerstone to any competitive and sustainable economic development strategy.
Fourth Economy has been immersed this year in conversations about higher education’s role in economic development. Over the summer we worked with a major research university to identify ways for improving their business engagement practices. This effort involved hosting a roundtable discussion with university-based economic development practitioners from around the country.
In October, Fourth Economy team members managed the 2014 University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which brought together more than 230 economic development representatives from higher education, economic development organizations, consulting firms, federal agencies, and many other groups (you can view the agenda and presentations here). Conference participants shared and discussed best practices, including initial thought leadership from UEDA’s Body of Knowledge Committee, developed in conjunction with representatives from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).