Joshua Devine

Pittsburgh Impact, a business growth initiative of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) helping to connect high growth companies with resources and opportunities and championing their success regionally, recognizes three Pittsburgh Impact companies for receiving nominations for the inaugural Governor’s ImPAct Awards. They are AEC Group, Inc. (McKeesport), Precision Defense Services, Inc. (Irwin) and Environmental Service Laboratories, Inc. (Indiana).  Award winners from among the nominees were announced at a May 23, 2013 ceremony in Harrisburg, Pa.

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Ben Kamber

For cartoon enthusiasts everywhere, this Memorial Day weekend is THE time to be in Pittsburgh. For the first time ever, our region is hosting hundreds of cartoonists from across the country for the National Cartoonist Society conference which is rolling into town today. And to dovetail with the conference, the ToonSeum is organizing a comic arts street party, open to the public, called the Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival on Sunday, May 26.

554194_10151845876973626_349981087_nBilled as a “living pages block party,” the festival will feature visits from iconic comic and cartoon characters such as Popeye, Olive Oil, Betty Boop and Dennis the Menace, as well as vendors, artists and interactive arts activities – all catering to our collective love for the comic arts. Autograph and sketch sessions will also be offered with more than 60 of the nation’s leading comic artists and cartoonists. The street festival runs from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Liberty Ave. between 9th and 10th streets.

Admission to the block party is free and access to the ToonSeum exhibits and the artist sessions is $5.

In addition to the street festival, the ToonSeum is partnering with the August Wilson Center and Bricolage to host a jam-packed series of panel events on Sunday. One of the discussions will focus on “women in cartooning” and will feature Cathy Guisewite of Cathy, Lynn Johnston of For Better or Worse, Terri Libenson of The Pajama Diaries, Hilary Price of Rhymes with Orange and Jen Sorensen of Slowpoke. You can find ticket information and a full schedule of sessions here.

Why is Pittsburgh the perfect place to host this weekend of comic arts festivities? Perhaps it’s because we’re home to the ToonSeum, one of just two museums in America dedicated to cartoon art. Watch the video below to hear Joe Wos, founder and executive director of this downtown cartoon mecca, speak about the museum and why there is “universal appeal” for cartoons throughout the world. And be sure to check out the Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival this Sunday. It’s sure to be blast for cartoon lovers of all ages.

Phil Cynar

Pittsburgh’s iconic timepiece – the Kaufmann’s Clock at the Smithfield St. and Fifth Ave. entrance of Macy’s Downtown Pittsburgh – celebrated its 100th anniversary on May 17, 2013. The clock is named after the family-owned downtown department store, Kaufmann’s – the management of which was assumed by Macy’s in February 2006.

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The iconic Kaufmann’s Clock

For a century, the imposing and ornate bronze clock has been used as a favorite meeting spot for generations of families, friends and lovers who would quip, “meet me under the clock,” when finalizing their social plans. It was an easy destination to spot and a place to be easily spotted.

At a ceremony under the famous clock this morning, a city proclamation was read declaring May 17, 2013 as “Meet Me Under the Clock” Day. Delivering the proclamation was Mr. McFeely, the “Speedy Delivery” man from the long-standing PBS children’s television show with roots in Pittsburgh, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Watch the video below to hear what one Pittsburgh icon of sorts – Mr. McFeeley – had to say about this iconic timepiece and why Pittsburgh’s love of tradition is a good thing.

The anniversary celebration spans two days, spilling into Saturday, May 18, when activities include a performance by the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters, street fair festivities, carnival games, dance performances, balloon art, food and more.  Activities begin at 10:00 a.m. and continue throughout the day at Macy’s Downtown Pittsburgh, 400 Fifth Ave.

Finally, if “it’s time” for you to sharpen your knowledge about Pittsburgh icons – such as the Kaufmann’s clock – click here for some fun facts and other trivia.

Bill Flanagan

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.

Ben Kamber

On Location at the Quality of Life Technology Center

A unique collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, the Quality of Life Technology Center (QoLT) at Bakery Square is working to make life easier for people with disabilities and older adults. QoLT brings together the word-class assets of both universities to research and design cutting-edge robots and other technologies to allow people from all walks of life to live more independently. Dr. Rory Cooper, the center’s co-director from Pitt and Dr. Daniel Siewiorek, the center’s CMU co-director, discuss the mission of QoLT and why this university partnership makes sense.

From Lab to Market: Commercializing Quality of Life Technologies

What does it take to make the cutting-edge technologies being developed at the Quality of Life Technology Center (QoLT) available to the broader public? Randy Eager, QoLT’s industrial liaison officer joins Dr. Rory Cooper and Dr. Daniel Siewiorek to chat about the process of commercializing technologies and to showcase a few QoLT innovations that are being brought to market.

Bakery Square 2.0 Breaks Ground

With the success of Bakery Square (nearly all office space is leased), the time has come for Bakery Square 2.0 – the newest residential / office space development in Pittsburgh’s East End. Construction has begun on the 12-acre site of the former Reizenstein School, which is just across the street from the existing Bakery Square complex. Gregg Perelman, principal of Walnut Capital and Todd Reidbord, president of Walnut Capital, discuss the project’s scale and scope and the many green and sustainable features that will become part of the development.

Our Region’s Business airs Sundays at 11 a.m. on WPXI-TV. Hosted by the Allegheny Conference’s Bill Flanagan, the 30-minute business affairs program is co-produced with Cox Broadcasting. The program is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and at 3:30 p.m. Mondays. It also airs Sundays on WJAC-TV (Johnstown-Altoona) at 6 a.m. and WTOV-TV (Wheeling-Steubenville) at 6:30 a.m.

Bill Flanagan

First our region tops the U-Haul index for the fastest growth rate in people moving into any region and now we’ve made a top ten – this time among the “up and coming downtowns.”

According to Forbes.com, downtowns are being reborn across America, with double-digit population growth in the decade ending 2010 – more than double the rate of growth for cities overall.  Young adults are big drivers of this, particularly college-educated men and women ages 25 to 34, who are opting for urban lifestyles.

Downtown Pittsburgh turned up in Forbes’ top ten. The magazine notes that Class A office space was 94.5 percent leased as of the end of the third quarter of last year and the neighborhood’s population was about 8,000, up 21 percent from 2000.  And there’s more residential living on the way. According to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, 219 units have come to market since 2009 with another 346 under construction.

The transformation of Downtown has been underway since the beginning of our region’s comeback 30-years ago.  (I’ve noted before that Pittsburgh’s darkest days were 30-years ago this year.  In 1983 the metro unemployment rate topped out above 18%.)

First came strategic investment in the arts, transforming a red light district into a cultural district.  About seven years ago PNC green-lighted a $170 million office tower (another skyrise is under construction) and jump-started the revitalization of the Fifth-Forbes corridor. Add to that the amazing success of the renovation of Market Square into a European-style piazza and the rest, as they say, is history.

But there’s more to come. Riverlife and the PA Department of Natural Resources are putting the finishing touches on a $41 million restoration of Point State Park, the biggest investment in a state park in state history, tying together the waterfront with trails and linear parks along the Allegheny and the Mon. Point Park University has already greened its urban campus with a plaza at the corner of Wood Street and the Boulevard of the Allies – and it’s got big plans for the Wood Street corridor, which connects to PNC’s new skyrise.

All of this is something to celebrate, something the entire community can do on Friday, June 7, when Governor Corbett will throw the switch to turn on the fountain in Point State Park.  The light show that weekend will be extraordinary, with a display called Riverlights showcasing the fountain – and Downtown – in a way none of us has ever seen before.

The event kicks off the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, the JazzLive International Festival and Pride Fest, which all lead up PointMade!, the celebration of the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage, a 335-mile long biking and hiking trail that links Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

It’s the perfect time to invite friends and family to check out everything that’s been accomplished here.  And, if they’re really into downtown living and looking for their next great career move, it’s a great opportunity to share with them one of America’s ten best “up-and-coming” downtowns.