48 Hours in Pittsburgh with the Consulate General of Canada

Bernard-Blog-20160405To many Americans, Canada is our friendly neighbor to the north, known for an affable attitude, a passion for pucks and a penchant for strong beer.  What is perhaps less known is how critical trade with Canada is to the economy of the United States.  Consider:

  • Nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada
  • Canada is the top export destination for 35 states
  • Canada is the number one supplier of crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas,
    and electricity to the U.S. as well as a
    leading supplier of uranium
  • 400,000 people cross the Canada–U.S. border daily

Source: http://can-am.gc.ca/can-am/index.aspx?lang=eng

Continue reading “48 Hours in Pittsburgh with the Consulate General of Canada”

Arts, Culture and the Economy: Fourth Economy Participates in the Unsung Majority Rollout

141106-Art-CouncilAs 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. Continue reading “Arts, Culture and the Economy: Fourth Economy Participates in the Unsung Majority Rollout”

ChemCeption incubator to launch April 2014

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. Continue reading “ChemCeption incubator to launch April 2014”

A Recap of Greenbuild 2011


Revival, crusade, stories, messages, marketing, learning, connections, friendships … no matter what your purpose or perspective, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo again seemed to hit many marks for those of us who made the journey to Toronto, Canada this year. Greenbuild’s first time outside the U.S. (finally), lived up to its international title. With a growing base of international attendees there was an even bigger opportunity to share knowledge and experiences beyond the usual U.S. borders!

Best part for me about Toronto was I could walk everywhere! No cabs fares and great weather the entire week. Some difference from Boston in 2008 when I was USGBC board chair where just going a few blocks would turn anyone into an ice cube! Speaking of ice cubes, my favorite (and the last) speaker of the event, Robert Swan, polar explorer and environmental leader who has walked unsupported to both the North and South Poles. If you missed it to head to the airport early, his message is worth visiting at www.2041.com.

I have been to all 10 Greenbuild conferences, hosted the second in Pittsburgh and each year there is something new or unique. There is nothing really quite like it. I was not disappointed in the education sessions – big turn outs for green building products this year with expanded focus and interest in Environmental Health Declarations (HPD) and human health issues in general. This year, I was also pleased to see that the idea for more advanced, research based session occurred for the first time – thanks team! Greenbuild even had a bit of Shakespeare with metaphors between “The Tempest” and LEED – thought I never quite figured that one out.

Beyond the programs is the opportunity to re-connect and collect HUGS from my colleagues and friends which is what it is really about – one big “HugFest”. Without the relationships and networks that have been created through chapters, committees and grassroot actions, the green building movement and transformation would not be what it is today. It really is all about the people not the buildings. This is an important point that many still miss. So while many may complain (including myself at times) about this speaker or that program or setting or intentions or spin, if you get past all of that and look around you realize there is no professional group that comes together in this manner with such diversity of professions and topics to form one in person community for a week every year. Finally, I have to say that Greenbuild is like anything else – it is what you make of it. This year, what I really enjoyed was not the big concert and parties, rather the small dinners with friends just talking and sharing ideas and laughs.

There is one thing that stays the same every year, the sensation of being both exhausted and energized at the end. I am always so inspired by all the great work and passion that surrounds Greenbuild. If you missed it plan on coming to San Francisco next year!

Rebecca L. Flora , President, RLF Collaborative, LLC
Rebecca has worked in the field of sustainability for nearly 30 years. She led the Pittsburgh’s early leadership in green building through her role as executive director for the Green Building Alliance. She served on the board of USGBC for 7 years and most recently served as SVP of Education and Research at USGBC.



Using Young Professionals as Regional Bait

The following article is a post from our guest blogger, Abe Taleb, co-founder of re|work.

This past Labor Day weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Zurich, Switzerland to attend the One Young World Summit. The One Young World Summit (OYW) is a conference for young people (ages 18-30) to meet and discuss global issues, such as business, health, environment, and religion. The summit in Zurich had 1,200 delegates from 160 different countries. I was selected to be a part of the Pittsburgh Delegation of 30, two-thirds of which was from local corporations (PNC, Bayer, Federated) and the other third from local nonprofits.

It was a very exciting experience, with the highlight of the event getting to be up on stage when Pittsburgh was named the host city for the 2012 Summit (getting to stand next to Muhammad Yunus wasn’t too bad, either). While this is great news for Pittsburgh, it begs the question: is the city ready to host a conference for young leaders? And more broadly, is Pittsburgh doing all that it can to attract young professionals?

While the OYW Summit was a worthwhile and unique experience, it had one inherent failure – instead of delegates engaging in meaningful dialogue, we were merely spoken to. The roster of speakers was, as expected, very impressive (Desmond Tutu, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Jamie Oliver, and Wael Ghonim, just to name a few); but rather than having a conversation with the delegates, many of the presentations felt as if they were speaking at us. Though I’m sure their intentions were in the right place – with hopes of inspiring us – what they failed to realize was that inspiration was in all likelihood the one thing that the delegates had even more of to offer.

In my view, this failure stems from the leaders of the OYW Summit, Kate Robertson and David Jones. While they are admittedly both very successful and passionate people, they are of a different generation and have a very different perspective than people our age. Though I very much appreciate their foresight in starting OYW, they should have quickly handed over the reins to leaders closer in age to the actual delegates. It had the feeling of your parents throwing you a party for your 16th birthday, and everything that they thought would be fun, ended up being a little lame. At one point during the 3-day summit, during a conversation on the global role of corporations, Kate Robertson grabbed her microphone and reprimanded the delegates for suggesting that corporations are corrupt. This act upset many of the delegates because it clearly communicated that she was more interested in promoting her own agenda than giving a voice to the attendees.

This all applies to Pittsburgh (and other cities facing the challenge of recruiting young professionals) directly. We need more young people leading initiatives that are focused on recruiting young professionals to our city. I have, on many occasions, found myself at an event focused on the recruitment and retention of young professionals, and realizing that the event itself was not being led by someone of the target demographic. One solution is to support initiatives already being started by young professionals and allowing them to flourish.

One such solution is the Business Bout, a local start-up competition put on by six young professionals who are giving away $5,000 that they raised just by throwing a Barbecue. Their reasoning for holding such a competition is because they want to have a positive impact on the region and see giving away $5,000 to a new business as a great way to do that.

An example that I am fascinated with from another city is MassChallenge, an international start-up accelerator based in Boston, Massachusetts. New companies can apply from any field for MassChallenge, and this each year they gather 100 entrepreneurs to Boston for three months to accelerate their businesses (many of them end up staying for longer). This has had many secondary effects, but most important is that young professionals are attracted to Boston (and not just for school) because they want to be around what is happening at MassChallenge, and to be a part of the positive energy. This is a strong example of an organization that was started and is led by young people but has the support many government officials. Most notably, Governor Deval Patrick, who has been so impressed by the work of organizations like MassChallenge that he declared Massachusetts a “State for Social Innovation.”

My hope is that both Pittsburgh and OYW can learn from successes like MassChallenge and find ways to support initiatives like Business Bout, both which allow young people to lead. For OYW the future success of the summits rely on it becoming a more inclusive and curated experience for the delegates. Hopefully with the Summit coming to Pittsburgh, the past delegates will have a greater role in its planning, and this will translate into more success for the city when it comes to recruiting young people. This is a huge opportunity for Pittsburgh to put itself on the map as a place for young professionals, and we will have an audience of 1,500 delegates from around the world to send that message.

About Guest Blogger, Abe Taleb

re|work, a Pittsburgh based social venture.




Green Jobs: Learning from the Past for a Better Tomorrow


Earlier this month I attended the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) annual conference, which was held in the Larimer neighborhood of Pittsburgh. GLUE is a network of young leaders devoted to creating a healthy, sustainable and equitable future for the Great Lakes region. The theme of this year’s conference was “Green-Lighting Neighborhoods” and one of the issues that surfaced repeatedly was that of green jobs. Green jobs have been getting a bad wrap lately, but there were several organizations on hand whose successes demonstrated a different story.

It’s true that green jobs programs have not been as successful in the past as they could have been. The term “green jobs” is tough to define and its goals have not always been clearly communicated.  And the initial slew of green jobs training programs was often uncoordinated and unaligned with market needs; there weren’t always jobs waiting for graduates of these programs. However, organizations involved with green jobs training are learning from past mistakes and reworking programs to make them more effective.

GTECH (Growth Through Energy + Community Health) is a Pittsburgh-based non-profit social enterprise, whose work lies at the intersection of community development, vacant land reclamation, and the green economy.  GTECH has only been around since 2006, but they’ve learned a lot about promoting the green economy over the past 5 years, and Khari Mosley shared those lessons with us at GLUE.

  • First, focusing solely on training isn’t enough. For programs to be successful, community, political, and business leaders all need to be actively engaged to make sure that programs are comprehensive and reflect actual needs and opportunities. GTECH is partnering with everyone from the unions, to the Housing Authority, to other area non-profits to implement their programs. This collaboration has led to a 63% placement rate for graduates of their Breaking the Chains of Poverty program. They’re also engaging political leaders through their Metro Scale Up program to ensure that there are policies in place to support green jobs.
  • Second, it’s not enough to do the work – if you want people to support the comprehensive programs and policies you’ve worked so hard to create, you’ve got to tell the story, too. To do that, GTECH has begun to focus on several community and consumer education efforts, so that everyone understands the benefits of creating a greener economy.
  • And finally, you’ve got to prepare the next generation of leaders to pick up where you leave off. Along with a host of partners, GTECH is identifying, educating, and engaging young and grassroots leaders to do just that.

One emerging market for green jobs will be in the water sector. As the Pittsburgh region, and many others across the country, prepare to invest billions of dollars in their failing water and sewer infrastructure, we need to make sure that local residents are prepared to implement the green solutions that will be a piece of that work. Abe Taleb, of  re|work, also presented at the GLUE conference about the work being done by the Pittsburgh Pipeline, also presented at GLUE. They are currently working with area high school students to make sure they are prepared to enter careers in the water industry. However, given the scale of investment, there is certainly more work to be done in preparing for future workforce opportunities.

At Fourth Economy, we are tracking many of these emerging market drivers and helping communities prepare to make the most of future opportunities. We believe that we can learn from challenges faced by yesterday’s green jobs programs, in order to build a more effective and robust green economy for tomorrow.


Case Study: A Match Made in Energy

About the Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh

The Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh increases the scale of the region’s energy industry, creating and retaining jobs and attracting investment across a portfolio of energy-related assets, while continuing to advance our global leadership in improving the environment. A joint initiative of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Innovation Works, the Energy Alliance is a strategic partnership of traditional and alternative energy companies, global leaders in material science and intelligent building technologies, academic, corporate and government researchers, and supply-chain providers in 32 counties across four states.


As one of the managing partner organizations of the Energy Alliance, Innovation Works realized a pattern of disconnect between professionals across the greater Pittsburgh region’s energy sector and sub sectors. Since collaboration is vital to ensuring the success of the regional energy sector, this trend was worrisome. . Innovation Works needed to connect the dots among energy professionals, while measuring the successes of these connections to ensure future funding and support of the Energy Alliance.


The Energy Alliance, through Innovation Works, partnered with Fourth Economy Consulting to provide strategy development, project management and regional collaboration to the organization. A piece of this partnership included assistance for bridging disconnect amongst professionals across greater Pittsburgh’s energy sector. With third-party partners of World-Class Industrial Network (WIN) and SMaSh, Fourth Economy brought to life the EnergyMatch event. EnergyMatch is a networking event designed for industries, entrepreneurs, university and industry researchers, and the funding community to connect, develop new products, form research and development teams, collaborate on grant opportunities and seek investment capital. EnergyMatch is an “anti-conference.” Rather than speaking to participants through keynote addresses and breakout sessions, the event focuses on action-oriented networking intended to make real connections that produce real projects with tangible action items, next steps and follow-up. An online profiling form was developed by Fourth Economy and WIN to analyze a professional’s needs and assets, as well as the needs and assets of their employer or organization. These profiles were then analyzed and matched with one another with each attendee being matched to four to six fellow attendees. At the event, attendees received a personalized list of individuals to seek out throughout the evening. Attendees could also make matches on their own through general networking at tables labeled by energy sector (wind, coal, solar, distribution, etc.) throughout the venue. When a match was made, each person texted the follow-up for that match to a SMS texting system developed by SMaSh. A counter projected throughout the evening kept track of the number of connections generated as a result of the event.


EnergyMatch event. Those individuals created a total of 439 “matches” as recorded by the texting technology. The average number of matches made by an attendee was 6.6 (with a median of 4) and the most matches made at the event was 39, by an individual who also won an iPad for their superior matching efforts. In a follow-up event survey, all participants rated EnergyMatch very highly:

  • 96% were either “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with the overall event.
  • 94% are “likely” or “extremely likely” to follow-up with at least one of their matches.
  • 97% said they would likely attend another EnergyMatch event.

Another EnergyMatch event is in the early planning phases for Fall 2011, with subsequent events to follow. Additionally, an online collaboration tool used to mimic the activities of the event is in development.

Quotes From Participants

[I liked] the opportunity to meet a variety of people from different backgrounds. I also liked that the point of the match was to introduce yourself to people – that is, that you didn’t have to know people ahead of time or be “connected.” Great atmosphere. Well organized. Nice mix of people. Texting contact info was good. [EnergyMatch] was a new/unique spin on traditional networking. Well intentioned and well organized. I liked the idea of being able to network with others who are in the energy/cleantech/green sectors, and I appreciate the opportunity to meet with so many different companies in one place, and learn about mutual interests. I spent my whole career on that problem…it must be why they matched us.

Also, check out Imagine Pittsburgh’s recap of the EnergyMatch event, featuring all of the event videos!