Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pittsburgh Leaders Traveling to Europe to Study Industrial Cities, Spread Word About Region

A group of prominent Pittsburghers will travel to Europe this month to study how other post-industrial cities are learning to grow, and to spread the word about success stories in the Pittsburgh region.

The group, which also includes representatives of Cleveland and Detroit, will visit Turin, Italy and Essen, Germany, both of which suffered the collapse of their industrial base around the same time the steel industry bottomed out in Pittsburgh.

Organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the June 13-21 trip is the latest activity involving the Transatlantic Cities Network, a group of 25 cities on both sides of the Atlantic.

Representing Pittsburgh on the trip are Allen Kukovich – Executive Director, Regional Visioning Project, University of Pittsburgh; William Getty – President, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Audrey Russo – President & CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council; and Tracy Certo – Publisher and Editor, Pop City Media.

The Network “provides a framework for the exchange of information about innovative policies, best practices, and local policy challenges among a diverse network of policymakers, practitioners, and civic leaders who are well-positioned to put new ideas into practice in their home cities.”

Cities in the Transatlantic Cities Network were chosen “based on their potential to share innovative policy solutions in certain key policy areas, as well as to benefit from the experiences of other cities in different policy areas.”

Other U.S. cities in the TCN are Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Charlotte, NC, Cleveland, OH, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Oakland, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Portland, OR, San Antonio, TX, and Washington, D.C.

European cities are Belgrade, Birmingham, Brussels, Copenhagen, Essen, Genoa, Krakow, Leipzig, Lille, Lyon, Rotterdam, Turin and Valencia.

The trip supports the efforts of Pittsburgh’s Regional Visioning Project, which is drafting a set of goals for the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area, a 30-county region that spans four states and includes nearly 4 million residents.

Coordinators of the project, which is led by former Pennsylvania State Senator Kukovich, will focus on building a consensus among the region’s residents, instead of following the more traditional approach of drafting and implementing a long-term regional plan from the top down.

The first major public event of the process was a town hall meeting on May 20 staged by cityLIVE!, an event series jointly supported by local foundations and media. The evening featured former Mayor of Turin Valentino Castellani. During his term in the 1990s, Castellani spearheaded the creation of Turin’s region-based, internationally-focused Strategic Plan, which was drafted collaboratively by over 100 stakeholders representing a broad cross-section of the public, government, and business.

The Transatlantic Cities Network is supported by the Bank of America Foundation, the Compagnia di San Paolo, and the Ford Foundation.

- Thomas Buell, Jr.

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