Pitt's Bytes 9.20.07

An overdue Pitt's Bytes, consisting of news from the world of Pittsburgh economic development infrastructure:

The fact that there is news at all is interesting. Usually, Pittsburgh's ED infrastructure (pun intended) is bloated and inert. There are too many intermediary chefs, as illustrated in part by this post, and not enough entrepreneurial chiefs, that is, people willing to run with the ball, provoke the establishment, and generally raise hell.

So:

One: There is another intermediary chef on the scene: HELP, which sponsored a party on the North Shore last Tuesday (sorry I couldn't come!), has a spiffy new website for entrepreneurs looking for information. Here's the site. Spiffy design; sorry about the thin content; and especially sorry that you have to register to access most of it. How about just sharing the news?

Two: The Pittsburgh Technology Council formally announced its new CEO yesterday: Audrey Russo, coming over from MAYA Design. Like the Allegheny Conference, the PTC has been missing in action for some time, an organization with a public identity but without a clear public purpose. With a typically bland recitation of the accomplishments of the new appointee, the PTC press release doesn't help matters. But I heard an interview with her yesterday on WDUQ, and she sounded ready to revive the PTC's role in the region as more than a service organization for its members. In other words, the PTC can be an advocate for local technology interests, speaking to outside audiences. The local technology community desperately needs someone or something to speak loudly and provocatively about the promise that the tech sector holds. (The tech community isn't the only group in this position, of course.) Once upon a time, I think, the PTC aspired to that role. For the last several years, as this comment confirms, the PTC has been focused on growing its membership base and providing services and programming to its members. I hope that Audrey Russo will do more.

By the way, what's with the CEO title? Why does everyone in Pittsburgh have to be a CEO? What's wrong with being an Executive Director? Wait. Don't answer that. It's a rhetorical question.

Three: A re-energized PTC might be a good thing, but the most interesting local ED news in recent months has been the emergence of the local foundation community as a playere in economic development. Check out the list of sponsors and supporters of things like the new HELP web portal. There are some usual Pittsburgh suspects there, but some uncommon ones as well, and the HELP portal is far from the only example of this. The Heinz Endowments funded a new economic development position at Carnegie Mellon. My earlier critique of the ImaginePittsburgh request for marketing proposals landed a little wide of the mark. It turns out that this particular initiative is collaborative in name but came out of the foundation space, not the AC. That's not to say that there isn't more room to add more non-traditional seats to the regional marketing table.

I'm not sure why the foundations are jumping in, other than the fact that they, along with some other major not-for-profit institutions, likely share the broader frustration with the inaction and/or ineffectiveness of the usual private sector suspects. The Allegheny Conference appears to have its eggs in the Pittsburgh 250 basket. There's nothing wrong with throwing a nice party, but there's a barn to be built, folks. Meanwhile, as one local shaker told me recently, "Tim McNulty [at CMU] is kicking butt." I've been hearing good noises about tech and business at Duquesne University. Watch for more of this.

Comments

1 Response to "Pitt's Bytes 9.20.07"

peterb said... 9/20/2007 10:02 PM

It's awesome how the PTC's press release is in Microsoft Word format. Maybe someone might want to write them a letter (please use longhand, blue or black ink on cream coloured unlined paper) and let them know there's this "internet" thing that lets you post "documents" that anyone with a "web browser" can "read."

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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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