From the number of global groups that have turned up on our region’s doorstep in the past couple of weeks you might think the G-20 was here last fall instead of more than three years ago. Since the Pittsburgh Summit in 2009 we’ve hosted more than 30 civic leadership delegations from across the country, most of them led by Chambers of Commerce. For the most part they’ve been interested in the transformation story they heard about through all the coverage of the summit. We haven’t been tracking the international visits, but there seem to have been at least as many, if not more.
A couple of weeks ago a delegation from Hamilton, Ontario, another steel town in transition, came to look at innovation and entrepreneurship. They spent a weekend tooling around the East End of Pittsburgh and admiring the view from Mt. Washington. Last week, Tulsa, Oklahoma sent an advance team for an upcoming leadership visit this fall. They’re interested in how a one-industry town diversifies its economy and enhances its reputation.
On Sunday I told our story to a delegation organized by the government of Abu Dhabi, hosted by the American Middle East Institute. They’re here for the better part of the week, learning about free enterprise and the “power of Pittsburgh” to transform itself through public and private partnership. Yesterday, Global Pittsburgh brought over a group from eastern and central Europe interested in regional transformation and clean energy.
I had thought the interest in our region might flag so long after the summit, but so far this year it’s been picking up steam. Roanoke, Denver and Greenville, South Carolina have all reached out about visits in the fall, which happens to coincide with the Remaking Cities Congress being organized by CMU. 2013 is, after all, the 25th anniversary of Prince Charles’ visit to our region for the first and only remaking cities conference.
The online media are back on the case, too. The “Grumpy Traveler” calls Pittsburgh the “most under-rated” city in the United States in this recent post. The Wall Street Journal included Vibrant Pittsburgh in a story on cities in the Heartland reaching out to immigrants to offset population declines. (Separately we had worked together with VisitPittsburgh, the Hispanic Chamber and the Pittsburgh Promise to organize a Latino media tour during the weekend of the Pittsburgh Marathon, which had adopted a Cinco de Mayo theme.) The New York Times also featured local restaurants and food purveyors in an article on the emerging farm-to-table scene from Toledo to Pittsburgh entitled Replanting the Rust Belt, that begins, “Pittsburgh in springtime is an edible city.”
In the tourism space you’ve got to give VisitPittsburgh a lot of credit for keeping the story alive. In a recent e-newsletter, President and CEO Craig Davis noted that the organization generated $9 million in advertising equivalency value for the region just from its public relations efforts, attracting more than 1,000,000 visits each year to its website. We’re working closely with VisitPittsburgh and dozens of other partners on communication around the series of big events on tap in early June, the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, bookended by Riverlights, the dedication of the restored fountain in Point State Park and PointMade!, the celebration of the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage.
But I think the best of the lot I’ve seen recently is “Pittsburgh: The Movie,” a video project of Mt. Lebanon native Aron Zelkowicz, who just happens to be a professional cellist. The video speaks for itself – and it’s already generated about 124,000 views on YouTube. Enjoy.