We’re hiring!

We’re looking for an innovative and creative professional with experience and expertise in graphic design, brand management, business development, and web design. Fourth Economy is hiring a Graphic Design and Communications Manager to help us communicate our plans and recommendations to our clients and the stakeholders they serve.

Send cover letter and resume and work samples that demonstrate your design approach and capabilities to pia.bernardini@fourtheconomy.com.

Checking Up on the Health of Pittsburgh’s Startup Economy

Much attention has been paid to Pittsburgh’s burgeoning cohort of tech startups — but, more broadly, how is the climate for startup businesses in Pittsburgh, and what does it indicate about our city’s entrepreneurial culture? The Kauffman Index is one of the most prominent rankings of entrepreneurship and startup activity. Its release is often used to measure how Pittsburgh is doing compared to other metropolitan areas–and how we’ve progressed over time.

The 2016 Kauffman Index shows that entrepreneurship in the Pittsburgh region continues to lag behind other major metropolitan areas. Pittsburgh ranks 40th in startup activity in 2016, unchanged from our 2015 ranking. However, our rate of new entrepreneurs slipped from 150 new firms per 100,000 adults in 2015 to just 120 in 2016. By way of comparison, Austin, which ranked first in 2015 and 2016, saw its rate of new entrepreneurs go from 550 per 100,000 in 2015 to 600 in 2016. This means that Austin generated five times as many new firms per 100,000 adults as Pittsburgh did last year. Continue reading “Checking Up on the Health of Pittsburgh’s Startup Economy”

Innovative Financing: Paying for What Works

ellis-main-blog_imageA new generation of innovative funding tools is enabling change agents to expand programs that are meeting their community’s needs. Pay for Success (PFS) transactions, or Social Impact Bonds, represent an emerging financing mechanism that is driven by cross-sector partnerships, robust data, and a commitment to outcomes.

PFS utilizes upfront private investment to expand social programs that have proven results. In order to encourage this type of investment in their programs, service providers must be able to use data to show that their proposed intervention measurably improves outcomes for their clients and leads to an avoidance of cost. Additionally, these transactions depend on the collaborative efforts of a diverse set of stakeholders. PFS engages partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in five critical roles: an investor who funds the expansion of the program; a service provider who administers the program; an independent evaluator who measures the effectiveness of the program; a public entity, or other outcome payer, who repays the investment based on the success of the program; and an intermediary who facilitates the partnerships and ensures that the project operates effectively and efficiently. Continue reading “Innovative Financing: Paying for What Works”

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”

APA Pennsylvania Chapter Recognizes Fourth Economy Team

APA-Upper-LawrencevilleThe Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association recognized Fourth Economy Consulting with a “Planning Excellence” award for its contributions in developing a Targeted Development Strategy for the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Upper Lawrenceville. The consulting team helped the community craft a neighborhood identity and a series of principles guiding future development to achieve the community’s long-term livability goals. Continue reading “APA Pennsylvania Chapter Recognizes Fourth Economy Team”

Cultural diversity in the “fourth economy”

Diversity-Fourth-Economy

Building the “fourth economy” is all about combining traditional economic development tools with creative solutions to ever-evolving challenges.   The Fourth Economy Index is our framework for thinking about what sets communities and regions up for success: investment, talent, sustainability, place, and diversity.

Elements of these indicators came up again and again throughout three “21st Century Cities and Global Leadership” discussions at the recent Thrival Festival, focusing on questions like what might attract and retain talent in Pittsburgh and how to ensure that economic growth is sustainable.  And while diversity can mean many different things (and does as a metric in the Fourth Economy Index), one element of diversity that had an undeniable presence throughout the discussion was cultural diversity. Continue reading “Cultural diversity in the “fourth economy””

Balancing Energy, Air Quality, and a Sense of Place in Pittsburgh

Air-QualityOn Monday June 29, 2015 the United States Supreme Court brought air quality into the limelight when it ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to fully consider the cost to energy producers of limiting air emissions.  While the need to balance the costs of regulation against the intended social benefit is nothing new, the highest court of law held the EPA to that standard just months after the Urban Land Institute reported in America in 2015 that quality of environment (including air and water quality) is the top community attribute priority for people choosing a place to live in 2015. Continue reading “Balancing Energy, Air Quality, and a Sense of Place in Pittsburgh”

How Bikes Build Communities

Bike-InfrastructureIf you build it…

These days it seems that new bicycle infrastructure appears every few months in Pittsburgh (a.k.a. Fourth Economy’s home) such as new signage, new bike lanes, and a brand new bike share program. In 2014, Pittsburgh was selected as a PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project city, and Mayor Peduto has called for a multi-modal approach to building out infrastructure. The City even has a 10-year plan to create a network of bike lanes through city neighborhoods. As a cycling commuter, I enjoy Pittsburgh’s 25 miles of off-street bike trails, and am excited about increased infrastructure for bicycles along city roads.

With limited budgets and a never-ending list of capital projects in the City, many Pittsburgh residents wonder whether these investments are worthwhile. Will all this bicycle infrastructure actually impact ridership and help the community? Continue reading “How Bikes Build Communities”

National EPA Water Technology Innovation Cluster Leaders Meeting Held in April

WEN-EPA-Water-ClusterOn April 27, Fourth Economy market opportunity client The Water Economy Network (WEN) collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cohost the National EPA Water Technology Innovation Cluster Leaders Meeting, at Pittsburgh’s Omni William Penn Hotel.  Continue reading “National EPA Water Technology Innovation Cluster Leaders Meeting Held in April”

Water Economy Network to Host National EPA Water Technology Innovation Cluster Leaders Meeting

Watter-EPAFourth Economy continues to be involved in developing and implementing cluster strategies that move beyond the data, focusing more on tangible marketing opportunities for regions across the country.  Once identified, regions can bring together common industry partners to solve challenges and help grow their respective markets – all of which helps to distinguish and add value to a particular region or community. Continue reading “Water Economy Network to Host National EPA Water Technology Innovation Cluster Leaders Meeting”