How Outsiders View Pittsburgh

I had the good fortune at lunch yesterday to be seated at a table opposite David Thornburgh, who is the executive director of the Eastern Division of the Pennsylvania Economy League, an economic development organization, in Philadelphia. (Equal time disclosure: The PEL's Western Division, headquartered in Pittsburgh, has a website here.

He made an interesting observation. For all of the hand-wringing locally about the stagnation of Pittsburgh's economy, and particularly about downtown, this *region* is widely viewed elsewhere as doing pretty well in terms of institutional cooperation that supports *regional* development. The various groups involved in development efforts here are in close contact with one another, and all things considered, they work pretty well together. Philadelphia, by contrast, has a downtown that is the envy of many major cities, but its regional economy is doing poorly -- partly as a result of a complete failure of the kind of cooperation that exists in Western PA.

Is it possible for a mid-size or small city to have *both* a thriving downtown *and* a growing regional economy? If so, what does it take to get there? If not, which should we prefer?


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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