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

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. Continue reading “Makers, Starters, and Youngsters – The Evolution of Pittsburgh’s Workforce Development”

Reflections on the Profession

131023-Economic-Development-ProfessionAfter a three-year hiatus, I returned to teaching Urban and Regional Economic Development at Carnegie Mellon this fall. The process of preparing for the course, and the act of engaging with twenty students who represent a new generation of economic development, has caused me to reconsider the state of the profession and where it is headed as well as what new trends are driving it.   I often joke that we are teaching them how to solve the problems of the last generation with tools and policies that will create the problems for their generation to solve.  I call it the full employment policy for economic development. Continue reading “Reflections on the Profession”

What’s New in Economic Impact

131022-What's-New-in-Economic-ImpactHaving personally conducted and written more than 75 comprehensive economic impact studies using linear cash flow models for higher education and health care clients over my 16+ year career, I thought it would be interesting to look more closely at how the focus of economic impact reports has changed over the years.  Continue reading “What’s New in Economic Impact”

Energy Events Take Center Stage in the Steel City

Energy Innovation Center PittsburghThis spring, the under-construction Energy Innovation Center (EIC) in Pittsburgh will be offering courses in “Retro-Commissioning Commercial and Industrial Buildings” and “Project Management for the Energy Industry” as a part of their Corporate Training Exchange, an initiative that brings the public courses that were designed by the nation’s top corporations.

When it opens, the 6.6-acre complex will be an incubator for the green energy industry, a job-training center and a technical support complex for work-force development. Located in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, in the historic Connelly Trade School building, the EIC intends to bring job creation, entrepreneurship and urban economic revitalization to an area that has suffered economically in the past 50 years. By bringing world-class technology to the area, this not-for-profit organization will bring together community members and corporate partners. Continue reading “Energy Events Take Center Stage in the Steel City”

Marketing Fourth Economy Communities

The release of our latest Fourth Economy Community Index is a good opportunity to reflect on major shifts impacting economic development marketing strategies.  As we research our fourth economy communities, we see common success factors they employ to help attract and retain new investment.  Earlier this month I conducted an economic development marketing training session with economic developers from throughout the eastern U.S. and shared some key trends and lessons learned from both our project experience and through our Fourth Economy Index initiative. Here are some key take-a-ways. Continue reading “Marketing Fourth Economy Communities”

Numbers Behind the News: What is Driving Unemployment?

U.S. unemployment peaked at 15.4 million persons in October 2009 and has been falling back towards 12 million ever since.    Unemployment has always been the most troublesome statistic because it is one of the most widely recognized and flawed of the economic indicators. The recent drop has brought claims that the numbers have been manipulated.  Of course, this would be very hard to do.  Unemployment numbers are reported by companies to state bureaus that are staffed generally by civil servants.  In 29 states, the Governors are Republican and it is not very likely that they would be manipulating numbers to make Obama look good. Continue reading “Numbers Behind the News: What is Driving Unemployment?”

Innovation Clusters: Water is Gold

Forget the gold rush.  A “water rush” is underway and water rich states are well positioned.

Just a few short years ago businesses expanding or relocating were likely to cite broadband and transportation networks among the most important factors in their decision process.  The Southwestern U.S. has been targeted for the majority of this investment activity. But with below average snowpack, higher temperatures, growing consumption, and extreme drought appearing to be the new normal, water has quickly become the new gold.

Continue reading “Innovation Clusters: Water is Gold”

Fourth Economy’s Law of Economic Development

As we continue to move forward in restructuring our economy from the great recession, it is important to understand the phases of economic development in the U.S.  This infographic illustrates how the pace of economic development has continually accelerated since the beginning of economic growth in the country.

In the early days development was driven by raw material extraction.  Communities sprung up as wood, ore, silver, limestone and other materials were dug up or harvested and sent off to markets.  From the 1850’s to the 1910’s economic development was driven by increased manufacturing activity.  Communities formed near plants and at time the factories  even built the communities for their workforce.  Continue reading “Fourth Economy’s Law of Economic Development”

Rethinking the Same Old: 4 Trends Shaping New Economic Development Models

Many traditional approaches and methods for economic development are failing to keep up with the changing nature of job creation and investment in our communities. We submit that even those traditional measures, jobs and investment totals, that have been sacrosanct for the last 50 years, are losing relevancy. Why? Here are four key observations that are creating the urgency to rethink traditional economic models, tools and measures. Continue reading “Rethinking the Same Old: 4 Trends Shaping New Economic Development Models”

Flying Pigs and 50 Foot Women

Gernot Wagner‘s new book, But will the Planet Notice?  How Smart Economics Can Save the World.  In this book, he argues that we are past the turning point where individual choices (reusable grocery bags or hybrid cars) will be enough the save the planet.  We need to change the rules of the game to harness the choices of billions of people by changing the economic incentives.

Continue reading “Flying Pigs and 50 Foot Women”