I loved the Pittsburgh of the 1950s, but it’s dead. Let’s get past the denial stage of grieving and build new industries. It took 100 years for the vibrant, innovative industrial culture of Pittsburgh to run down. It took 50 years for Stanford to grow Silicon Valley from some scientific ideas. Austin, Seattle and Raleigh-Durham took comparable times to grow their industries.
Nearly 40 percent of Silicon Valley residents are between 20 and 40 while the equivalent Allegheny County cohort is 26 percent. On this point, The Economist reports a hopeful future for Pittsburgh. Its analysis deserves a fuller hearing. While we may never boom again, more students from our 34 universities are staying. In the meantime, we may find old codgers clinging to power too long while the new generation waits to step into place.
In the past 25 years Pittsburgh has tried many straight-forward steps: environmental cleanup, business-friendly university policies, state support for technology transfer, high-tech support groups, greenhouses and captive venture capital funds. They are important, but they don’t address the elusive cultural issues the generation gap presents. Here are some out-of-the-triangle ideas:
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