Phil Cynar

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) will be taking its world-class musicians and sterling symphonic sound abroad this fall.  When it does, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) will once again partner with the PSO to showcase what’s “world best” about the region and will promote the opportunities for international business investment here.  The PSO’s 2012 European Tour includes 12 concerts in eight cities from Oct. 25 – Nov. 10.

PRA President Dewitt Peart had this to say about a unique partnership between his organization and the PSO – one that strikes a chord on both sides of the Atlantic. “Pittsburgh is internationally recognized for collaboration.  We work together like no place else.  Here, organizations such as a symphony orchestra and an economic development agency partner to promote our region, which National Geographic Traveler has called a ‘must-see, best-of-the-world destination’ in 2012.  The region has a world of opportunity to offer, and its people make Pittsburgh experiences – from visits to significant business ventures – authentic and successful.  The ‘Power of Pittsburgh’ is its people,  and we’re delighted to personally showcase the region through its musicians, business leaders and other partners who are passionate about Pittsburgh – when the PRA tours Europe alongside the PSO.”

The partnership between the PSO and the PRA marks its seventh anniversary with the 2012 tour.

Read more about the tour plans in Andrew Druckenbrod’s Feb. 26 Post-Gazette article.

Ben Kamber

It’s been said that business and pleasure don’t mix, but a unique partnership between the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) is an exception. With the goal of driving foreign investment into the region, representatives of the PRA –  the marketing and economic development organization of the 10-county Pittsburgh region – have travelled alongside the PSO on its tours abroad for the past six years, from western Europe to China.  This unlikely duo of a business agency and a world-class arts organization are able to communicate a compelling message about why the Pittsburgh region is the perfect place for global investment and international business partnerships.  In leveraging the PSO’s powerful status as an ambassador of the region, the PRA is able to positively connect with international business leaders who may not have previously had Pittsburgh on their radars. For these business leaders – many of whom are devotees of classical music – the PSO, its musicians and the sterling quality of the orchestra’s performances – provide perspective about Pittsburgh as the kind of city and region where they’d like to do business.

fDi (foreign direct investment) magazine, a Financial Times unit, has taken notice of the power of this unusual collaboration. In its February/March edition, Senior Americas Editor Michael Kaczmarski quotes the PRA’s VP of Global Marketing Suzi Pegg in an article about how regions throughout the U.S. are increasingly seeking more direct investment from abroad. He writes:

“…some US regions are taking an unconventional approach to getting themselves noticed. Suzi Pegg, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance vice-president of global marketing, says that apart from conventional high-level meetings, city representatives tour together with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to conduct business talks in tune with spectacular renditions of Brahms and Rachmaninoff. ‘I would characterise our efforts to promote the Pittsburgh region for FDI as robust,’ says Ms Pegg.”

Read the rest of Kaczmarski’s article here (free registration required).

Click here to read Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky’s dispatch from Paris from the PSO’s 2011 European Festivals tour last fall. And check out Suzi Pegg’s perspective in the Pittsburgh Business Times for more information on the unique Pittsburgh partnership between the PSO and PRA.

Phil Cynar
Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer (gesturing) is seated to the right of Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky

This week, business leaders from nine Great Lakes states, including Pennsylvania, joined forces in Washington, D.C., to advance the multi-state region’s economy and position it as a powerful economic engine for the nation.

More than 30 members of the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition met with U.S. and Canadian leaders to discuss a newly honed plan for growth and continued job creation within America’s most formidable economic region.  They emphasized the need to grow America’s valuable manufacturing base – a key point in President Obama’s Jan. 26 State of the Union address.  The Great Lakes region of the U.S. offers the abundant and affordable sources of base load energy that manufacturing requires and – at the same time – possesses the high-tech expertise necessary to manufacture world-class products.

Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky was among the leaders representing the Pittsburgh region in D.C.  He said, “We strongly urge the federal government to take steps favored by the coalition that will result in even more domestic economic strength and more jobs. The Coalition includes some of the best business minds in America.  We stand ready to work with federal leaders and our Canadian partners to help our [Great Lakes] region grow and create even more good jobs for Americans.”

Read the complete release here.

As renewable energy industries such as solar and wind continue to grow nationally, it’s important to evaluate the already existing occupational and industrial infrastructure within the region to determine our true renewable energy potential. The Pittsburgh region is already poised to provide the equipment, technology and skills to be a supply chain leader, especially when compared to its benchmark communities and the nation as a whole.

Many of the industries along this supply chain – including metals, plating and electronics – are already established (and highly concentrated) in the region. While not all of these industries are necessarily involved in the wind energy market, there is great potential for many of our region’s companies to get involved and register real economic gains.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance conducted an analysis of the potential wind has for the region. You can read the full report here. The findings are based on a methodology developed by the U.S. Department of Energy-funded Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP). The REPP process breaks down renewable energy industries into their individual supply chain industries and then tracks these industries based on employment numbers.

These findings speak to the potential wind supply chain. Pittsburgh already has more than 70 companies directly involved in the wind supply chain including ABB, Alstom Grid, Brad Foote Gear Works, Converteam (recently acquired by GE), Kennametal, PPG Industries, and many others. Wind firms such as Gamesa, GE Wind and Iberdrola are also located in Pennsylvania.

The PRA Post, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance’s monthly economic development e-newsletter, highlights development news from throughout the 10-county region of southwestern Pennsylvania to a regional, national and international audience. Each edition of the Post includes “Research Roundup” – an analysis of regional economic trends and opportunities compiled by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance’s market research team.    

Sign up to receive the PRA Post and “Research Roundup” each month by clicking here.

Phil Cynar

When it comes to digital media and entertainment technology, can Pittsburgh compete with places like LA, San Francisco, Seattle and Montreal?

Schell Games designers at work / Photo copyright Schell Games

You bet, due in large part to Carnegie Mellon University and its one-of-a-kind Entertainment Technology Center (ETC).  At the ETC, founded by the late Randy Pausch (author of Last Lecture) and his colleague Don Marinelli, right and left brain thinking – the arts and technology, loosely speaking – are married.  The result is top-tier, hybrid talent that is intimate with nearly every aspect of video game development, virtual and augmented reality, themed and location-based entertainment and “edutainment.” That’s because of the ETC’s unique project-based approach to its master’s degree in entertainment technology.

Increasingly these talented graduates are finding the best place to turn their ideas into reality is Pittsburgh. Reversing early “brain drain” trends, many ETC alums have started spin-out companies that are not only successful, but are putting the region on the global radar as a hub for entertainment technology.  Among them are Electric Owl Studios, Etcetera Edutainment, Evil Genius Designs and Schell Games.  CMU’s ETC and these four spin-out companies are profiled in the article, “Game Changers,” in this January’s Site Selection, the magazine of corporate real estate and area economic development.  Read the complete story here.

Last week gave us at the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance the opportunity to directly connect with prominent leaders within Small Business Administration, as well as the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. It has been exciting to learn more about the strategies driving the policy that is being implemented to help with small business growth. Moreover, it was a great opportunity to expose these groups to the Pittsburgh Impact initiative and the research behind it.

First, three officials from the SBA attended a presentation about Impact: Dr. Winslow Sargeant, the Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the Small Business Administration; Dr. Sargeant’s senior advisor, Michael Landweber; and the SBA regional advocate for Pennsylvania and five  other states, Ngozi Bell. We talked about our opportunities with the Impact Initiative as well as our future plans for the program. Janice McGee from Empyrean Group and Ted Ford from Knepper Press – two Impact companies – shared their stories and concerns with the group as well. We were able to interview Dr. Sargeant after our meeting.

The next morning, I was able to attend the High Growth Entrepreneurship Listening & Action Session that was hosted by Innovation Works at AlphaLab. This presentation featured five speakers, including: Dr. Sargeant; Steve Case, Revolution Chairman and CEO, and Chairman of the Startup America Partnership; Chris Che, President and CEO of Hooven Dayton Corp.; Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the  U.S. Department of Commerce; and Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The audience challenged this group on a variety of topics related to small business, such as government regulation, immigration and H1-Bs, taxation, risk mitigation, the general negative attitude that small businesses have toward government intervention and the funding challenges faced by organizations tasked with assisting small businesses. Each panelist took rigorous notes and it was obvious that the message was resonating with this group.

Furthermore, much praise was heaped on the Pittsburgh region and our approach to economic revitalization. The panelists were well aware of the region’s previous economic challenges and the current opportunities that revolve around our healthcare, information/communications technology, financial services, manufacturing and energy industries. With dozens of visits from senior government officials within the past year, Pittsburgh has clearly become one of the well-recognized success stories in the midst of our challenging economic environment.

All told, it seemed that the Impact companies able to participate considered it a good opportunity. In addition, it was truly an honor to be able to share our research and strategy with the Office of Advocacy at the SBA. As we move forward, the relationships developed from these interactions will be critical to our future success.