Pittsburgh’s Secret Ingredient

There’s a great article in the New York Times today about the Pittsburgh economic renaissance. Entitled “Pittsburgh, There Is Life After Steel“, the story tells its readers about how Pittsburgh recovered from its steel industry collapse of the 1980’s to become one of the nation’s few thriving economies in this current recession.

There really is nothing new in there – as far as Pittsburghers are concerned. The spotlight is placed on the city’s thriving medical and educational industries, on the diversification of the local economy and the fact that Pittsburgh never saw real estate prices skyrocket during the good times. Thus, they are not seeing the plummeting home values others are seeing across this nation. It also credits the western Pennsylvania worker who has chosen to stay and reinvent themselves, learning new skills that will do them good in this new economic reality.

All that being said, I personally think the author missed on other key that allowed this region to stay very livable at a time when economic Armageddon is facing the rest of our country. That secret ingredient: the ability to give to the common good.

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Recognition for a fund-raising job well done at the CFC event Thursday in Pittsburgh: Government employees raising nearly $1 million for charitable causes. The selfless spirit of our region on display.

I will give you an example I witnessed today on the 31st floor of the old Alcoa building. The Combined Federal Campaign is a national effort on the part of  Federal employees to raise money for various charities of their choosing. Today, the local CFC effort reached its culmination with the 3 Rivers CFC Awards event. Mary Beth Buchannan, the U.S. Attorney for western Pennsylvania, served as chairman of the committee and Amy Irvin is the region’s campaign director.

Using funds raised and contributed through the efforts of employees with the IRS, Military, Post Office, Office of Veteran Affairs and many civilian workers in this region alone, they were able to raise nearly one million dollars. With this money, the organizations made donations to many charitable organizations in our region.

It’s just another example – as one of the award winners pointed out – of people in this region coming together. Even when times are tough, western Pennsylvanians have a way of helping their neighbor. Whether its money, time or resources, we seem to always be there for one another. As I have said many times before, while other parts of  this nation have more people and more money, no one has more heart than the people of our region.

So when the New York Times suggests in the article that Pittsburgh could be a model for post-recession success, I would add that the formula that they have cited should also include the human element we have.

The selfless spirit of western Pennsylvania.

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