Nostalgia: Community Development Friend or Foe? Pittsburgh as a Case Study

Mabel-NostalgiaRecent podcasts about the benefits and drawbacks of nostalgia got me thinking about this human experience, its influence on communities, and what this means for community developers. I believe nostalgia can help create community, but prolonged nostalgia can be detrimental to a community’s ability to adapt and thrive. Community developers should recognize the value of a community’s collective nostalgia, but they should also work with communities to build upon this legacy and develop an inclusive story of the future. Pittsburgh, like many communities across the U.S., may benefit from this approach. Continue reading “Nostalgia: Community Development Friend or Foe? Pittsburgh as a Case Study”

5 Lessons From the MLB All-Star Game for Economic Opportunity Pursuits

Overmoyer-MLBIt’s All About the Distance. Or is It?

Sure, power contributes to your ability to hit a home run, but it’s also the mechanics of how you swing that can take the ball farther. Many community and economic development initiatives throw a lot of money (power) at an issue without an understanding of the underlying issues and opportunities. A better approach is to use community input combined with real-time data to better understand the current local mechanics and what forms of investment (money and time) it will take to support change. Continue reading “5 Lessons From the MLB All-Star Game for Economic Opportunity Pursuits”

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”

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”

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”

Big Disruptions – Water

121102-WaterWhile research and data can often predict trends in our economy, large, disruptive changes can have signifiant impacts on how we live our lives. The economy is changing rapidly, growing more interconnected and dynamic. Now more than every past trends do not indicate future performance. Unfortunately, the tools of economic analysis are much better at predicting stable patterns than at predicting significant inflection points and transitions. The data and methods of economics tells us about the past, so even when we do it well, it helps us to predict the stable patterns – it does not predict big disruptions like the housing collapse of 2008. In a recent webinar for the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), I discussed three areas of disruption that will have a major impact on most of our communities. 1) System Disruption, 2) Environmental Disruption, and 3) Cultural Disruption.

You can view the webinar here. This blog post is the first in a series that will explore how a specific community is preparing for one of these disruptions. Milwaukee has taken the issue of water head on. In 2009, a group of Milwaukee-area businesses, education and government leaders formed The Water Council as a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission of aligning the regional freshwater research community with water-related industries. The Water Council links global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, government, nonprofits, and researchers with a shared commitment to finding innovative solutions to critical global water issues.
Continue reading “Big Disruptions – Water”

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”

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.

Regional quality of place and the fight against blight

BlightBy now, the costs of blight and vacancy are well-documented in terms of unpaid local and school taxes, drained municipal resources, further disinvestment, and/or declining adjacent property values.  We have also seen in from our clients the key role that quality of place plays in retaining and attracting talent – a key driver for economic success.  No matter the size, competitive communities create places where people want to live and work, and blight can be a major blow in that endeavor.  Continue reading “Regional quality of place and the fight against blight”

Education Innovation

Remake-LearningI think that few among our readers would argue that fostering an innovative K-12 education ecosystem plays a critical role in economic development. Employers and economic development officials from any industry will tell you that the critical skills for a modern workforce begin at the K-12 level. They will also tell you that attracting and retaining their current workforce means creating a community in which employees want to live, and education is a major factor in creating livable communities. However, influencing K-12 education to ensure that it’s creating an intelligent and creative next generation workforce often feels like an overwhelming challenge given the systemic barriers. Continue reading “Education Innovation”