OK, my nerdy side is about to come out here.
I was , at first, shocked then fired up about announcement that the G-20 Summit was going to be held in Pittsburgh in September. For those of you who might think this is a new collegiate conference, the G-20 is an informal gathering of 85% of the world’s economic powerhouses to discuss economic policies and practices. Yes, it sounds kind of dry and laborious, but its an all-star lineup of leaders who will becoming with President Barack Obama being the headliner.
Is the G-20 important? Well, anytime you get leaders of the 19 most prosperous nations in the world together in one place and, add to that, the current economic collapse around the world and the expect thousands who will be protesting in the streets and get the sense this is a little bit bigger than hosting baseball’s All-Star Game … or the U.S. Open.
However, I had to scratch my head when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s chief of staff Yarone Zober referred to the successful handling of security at the U.S. Open as great practice for this event. The difference is that two years ago at Oakmont, there was only one Tiger Woods to worry about … not 20 … and there was no one outside Oakmont holding demonstrations.
This is more than just an event. It has the potential of transforming the city we call home. Think about it. This event has been held in such international cities as Washington D.C. and London – both nation’s capitals. Pittsburgh isn’t even the state capital.
What is Pittsburgh? It’s an example of city that faced the world economic crisis 25 years before the rest of the world did – and re-invented itself , embracing new technologies and green industries. It’s amazing that a region that does not embrace change easily has become the living symbol of the change that must take place in order for a city to be economically viable.
Talking with a few economic experts tonight, there is a feeling that this could be a pivotal moment for Pittsburgh. As Bill Flanagan of the Allegheny Conference told me, “Pittsburgh has come all the way back” … with this announcement. However, it’s what we do with this moment … and what we do over those two days … that could turn Pittsburgh from a city on the rise to one that becomes significant on the international scene. Imagine, Pittsburgh being named in the same breath as Berlin, Tokyo and London.
Just wondering what kind of t-shirts will be made by local vendors for G-20.
Editor’s note: By the way, what was with the White House press corps laughing during the announcement that Pittsburgh was going to host the G-20 Summit? I know that sometimes the press is seen as elitist … and this doesn’t help their standing. At least in Pittsburgh. Hopefully, some in the White House press will take the time to get to know our city and realize its not all Steeler football and I.C. Light.