The Allegheny Conference Responds . . . Sort Of

In the wake of my Post-Gazette critique of the Allegheny Conference and economic development in the region, I received dozens of messages of support -- from investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, lawyers, and technology transfer professionals. Not one critical word. Yesterday's paper, however, brought this:

This region is fortunate to have the Allegheny Conference

Recent articles that have appeared in the Post-Gazette regarding the Allegheny Conference on Community Development have been unduly negative, even smarmy, in their tone and content, and the timing of their appearance seems calculated to throw cold water on the conference's message of reinvention and reorganizing, which was delivered at its annual meeting Wednesday night.

The short time that Mike Langley has been at the helm of the conference merely enabled him and his staff to develop the emerging new strategies and structure that the organization needs to lead this region into the next decade. To this end, the conference has attempted admirably to take a critical look at itself, reaching out to the community, seeking input and insight.

I personally participated in a focus group conducted by the conference, the purpose of which was to make certain that its direction was in alignment with other key stakeholders. That type of collaboration has led to a statewide coalition of business leaders dedicated to improving Pennsylvania's business climate. If we are successful this year, business taxes could be reduced by more than $320 million.

Also, members of the media ought to understand that the expenditures on the types of activities that the conference planned and implemented in recent years, as well as for its annual meeting, are by no means frivolous. The messages have to be delivered with impact, stakeholders have to be motivated and consensus has to occur on a widespread basis; this involves investing in the best ways to accomplish those objectives.

Certainly anytime an organization of this stripe undertakes change, whether it is personnel related or a refocusing of its mission, there will be discomfort and vulnerabilities. But that is not the time to pile on. The Pittsburgh region is very fortunate to have an organization like the Allegheny Conference. Many regions struggle to get private sector leaders engaged. Our region is blessed with committed leaders and an organization that is considered by other regions as a great model to get things done.

I anticipate that the conference, under the leadership of the incoming chairman, PNC's Jim Rohr, will be instrumental in the positive direction this region takes.

STEVEN G. ZYLSTRA
President and Chief Executive Officer
Pittsburgh Technology Council
Hazelwood

Is that it? An outfit that I assume is funded (in part) by the Allegheny Conference pops up with name calling and a plea not to criticize the Allegheny Conference? Steven Zylstra makes my point more eloquently than I ever could. Problems in Pittsburgh start at the top; solutions start at the bottom.

Comments

3 Responses to "The Allegheny Conference Responds . . . Sort Of"

Tim Murray said... 11/14/2005 9:18 AM

The absence of any meaningful response in Mr. Zylstra's letter to Prof. Madison's points merely underscores the validity of the Professor's argument. Too many of our institutions -- sadly, the Allegheny Conference may be one of them -- exist as vestiges of a bygone era. (We could add various city "authorities" in this list.) Some of these groups have no more relevance to our econonic well-being than the Jenkins Arcade or Forbes Field. Dave Lawrence, John Kane et al. banded together to address definite problems (e.g., pollution) not some amorphous notion of economic well-being that targets all manner of disparate agendas. Look at the number of initiatives the current group has set for itself and it is obvious that the original group's focus is gone -- and sadly, so is its effectiveness. http://www.alleghenyconference.org/public/cfm/accd%5Finitiatives/

Mark Rauterkus said... 11/14/2005 1:34 PM

... "smarmy" ...

What's that?

And, I dare ask, who's guilty of being "even smarmy?"

???

Amos_thePokerCat said... 11/14/2005 8:31 PM

Smarmy is one of the New Yorker, the magazine, not the city, words.

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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]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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