Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Time to Start Preparing for Life After the G-20; This is When the Real Work Begins and Opportunities Arise

Flash Forward to Saturday morning, Sept. 26, 2009 in Downtown Pittsburgh. Most of the heads of state will have flown off in their official jets. Members of the media will be filing their G-20 wrap-up pieces for the Sunday papers and doing their final stand-ups from the Convention Center. Protesters will be packing their bags. City crews will be sweeping up what will surely be a few messes.

Life will start returning to normal in the sense that office workers will be getting ready to report back to work on Monday morning, businesses that closed - voluntarily or otherwise - will start to re-open, barricades will be removed, and everyone will begin reflecting on what will have been a whirlwind of international media attention and unpredictability.

The Pittsburgh G-20 Summit will be over. Many will breath a sigh of relief, and with good reason. Thousands of people have put in thousands of hours to prepare for what has been an historic event. For the first time, a meeting of the world's economic powers is being held in a non-capital city.

The lesson will be that economic revitalization can and will take place not in the world’s capital cities but in the hundreds of smaller cities and thousands of smaller companies where people are working hard every day to bring about positive economic change through innovation, problem-solving and an atmosphere of optimism.
While the Summit itself will be over, the work, and the opportunity, for the Pittsburgh Region will be just beginning.
But while the Summit itself will be over, the work, and the opportunity, for the Pittsburgh Region will be just beginning. Yes, thousands of people will have seen the city for the first time and many will have been pleasantly surprised. Millions of people around the world will have seen footage or read news articles or surf through on-line reports about the new, improved Pittsburgh.

Let's put it this way, if Pittsburgh were a Hollywood star, its publicist would be getting a nice bonus check for all the media placements he or she had lined up.

But now the time comes to roll up our collective sleeves and follow up on all that good media attention - cash in on all that press to bring the rest of the world to Pittsburgh for a visit or a professional conference or a business meeting. We want them to invest here, to go to school here, to bring their entrepreneurial ideas here to create opportunities for everyone.

David Murdoch, a partner at the international law firm of K&L Gates and the Honorary Consul for Germany in Western Pennsylvania, also is telling anybody who will listen that we should work on continuing to focus the world's attention in Pittsburgh.

"It is time for another Pittsburgh Renaissance grounded in world-class thinking and focused on 21st century challenges," he said in remarks this week at the Allegheny HYP Club forum on "After the G20 Summit: What Next?"

"Pittsburgh is no longer one of the world’s best-kept secrets. The time is ripe; the world has noticed, and we need to capture the moment before it passes. This cannot just be Pittsburgh’s fifteen minutes of fame. Even Andy Warhol would give his hometown more time and opportunities."

GlobalPittsburgh has a plan to promote the Pittsburgh region as an internationally connected place to do business, and a great place to live, work and learn. Our promotional materials invite those who have been learning about 21st Century Pittsburgh to come see for themselves why the city was chosen to host the G-20.

We host visiting delegations, groups and individuals in the fields of business & technology, clean/green design, energy & the environment, advanced manufacturing & robotics, life sciences & medicine, education, arts & culture, government & finance, and social services & law.

Most importantly, we facilitate introductions, develop meaningful itineraries, create programs, plan events and coordinate logistics to ensure that future visitors to the region have a valuable experience and a positive outcome.

The goal of GlobalPittsburgh is to create partnerships between companies, organizations and individuals sharing a common vision of advancing the Pittsburgh region as a truly international community. That means we want all the great volunteers who have helped with the G-20 to remain engaged and help welcome the visitors who come to the region for a closer look in the future.

Sure Pittsburgh has its rough spots, including poor neighborhoods and a mass transit system that has, shall we say, not yet achieved its full potential. And many outside the region will be thinking more about televised protests. However, on the whole, most of the coverage of the Pittsburgh region will have been favorable.

Saturday morning is when the real work begins to turn publicity into opportunity for growth and progress for everyone in the Pittsburgh region. That's what we've all be working for.

- Thomas Buell, Jr.

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