Pittsburgh 2.0

I'm bullish today.

Harold Miller's most recent "Regional Insights" column for the Post-Gazette did a good, succinct job of laying out the bird's eye view of what needs to change to get Pittsburgh's reinvention process off the ground.
First on the Assembly's list of recommendations is placing a higher priority on promoting entrepreneurship. This is a particularly critical issue for the Pittsburgh region, since data recently published by the Pittsburgh Regional Indicators Project (www.PittsburghToday.org) show that, in virtually every industry, we rank dead last among similar regions in the rate at which new startup companies are created.

Key steps to helping startup companies are increasing access to early stage capital, also known as angel investment (see "Regional Insights: City's Future is In Angels," Jan. 7, and providing training to prospective entrepreneurs. But it's more than just creating programs for entrepreneurs; it's creating a culture of entrepreneurship in the region. The Assembly report urges that "The leadership of these metropolitan areas -- public and private -- needs to celebrate, reward and incentivize entrepreneurial behavior as a key pathway to economic growth."

Well said, and so true. But what else can and needs to be done? Specifically, what can you do? The title of this post -- "Pittsburgh 2.0" -- borrows a little meaningless web-marketing jargon to make the point that if you care about Pittsburgh's entrepreneurial, job-creating potential, you don't have to sit on the sidelines and wait for the angels to find you. Pittsburgh 2.0 means that the future starts with Pittsburghers -- current Pittsburghers, past Pittsburghers, future Pittsburghers, and virtual Pittsburghers. Like the Web 2.0, it's user-generated, networked, interactive, iterative, and emergent. Here is a short list of how to get yourself underway:

(i) Celebrate what's right with Pittsburgh (I'm stealing that line from Dewitt Jones). How?
(ii) Publicly align yourself/your blog/your organization with what I'm calling Pittsburgh 2.0, for now. (A better name will emerge.) That's not all.
(iii) Publicly commit to making yourself/your organization/your network accessible to others who want to get involved/invest in Pittsburgh/start a business/grow an enterprise/energize a community. A lot of would-be Pittsburgh evangelists, business owners, move-ins, etc. don't know who to call or contact. Let them call you. Let them email you. When they call you, be sure to introduce them to someone else you know. (That sounds a bit like "Pay It Forward," which isn't a bad motto.) I'll start a list: People in Pittsburgh Who Will Help. Look to the left column of this blog.

Tax reduction, government consolidation, and Internet social networking technologies can buy us only so much. Nothing substitutes for building the future by personal connection.

Add other ideas in the comments.

Comments

8 Responses to "Pittsburgh 2.0"

Schultz said... 12/03/2007 7:34 PM

I with you Mike. It will take more than blogging hours, not to mention the endless reports that continue to tell us the same thing over and over again, to bring about the change we've been talking about on here for so long. We've read enough reports, we know what the region's biggest shortcomings are. It's time for some action. We need folks who want to make a difference to roll up their sleeves and, as you said, start reaching out to people whose interests are in alignment with their own.

I encourage everyone who does not have a blog to start a blog on one issue that matters to them most. The green blog I started last year has opened up many doors for me as well as introduced me to individuals in both the public and private sectors who are working hard to make Pittsburgh a green leader. One of those individuals was Councilman Bill Peduto, whom I recently met with to discuss how I get involved in the the upcoming "Green Summit." See Rich Lord's story on this for more details, and stay tuned to "Green is Good" for more on this February's summit.

Brett said... 12/03/2007 9:08 PM

As great as online communication and blogging can be, nothing can replace face-to-face contact. Pittsburgh Bloggers recently held an event for bloggers to meet and mingle, and those types of events need to happen more frequently.

I also think that the Pittsburgh blogging community needs to start seeing itself as a cohesive entity with specific goals and interests that extend beyond cyberspace. For example, I think it would be great for the Burghosphere to get involved with community organizations working to erase the digital divide.

There's a lot of opportunity out there, and I'd like to raise my hand as someone who's interested in making things happen.

The Blurgh

Dan S said... 12/03/2007 10:15 PM

Good post Mike. I’m an ex-Burgher who has spent the last 20+ years working in the tech sector in Atlanta. Entire family excepting me has remained in the area, we swim upstream once / twice per year to see everyone, miss the character of the city, etc – common story. I would like to return, and my wife, a native Atlantan would support that decision. After researching the tech happenings, believe that it may now be possible to move back. I left after college because of the economy…I mean, the lack of an economy.

How can an experienced C-level type begin the process of getting connected and identifying opportunities? There wasn’t a tech community in Pittsburgh when I left. Atlanta is a good place to be, but I really would like to get back and put years of start up successes and failures (scars mostly) to work and contribute a bit back to the place that remains so important to me.

Mike Madison said... 12/04/2007 12:03 AM

Dan S (and others): My email address is on the blog. Mike

Guy Hogan said... 12/04/2007 11:20 AM

Mike, you're so right. I'm a flash fiction writer. So far I've had eight stories accepted for publication and the City of Pittsburgh is always a presence in the stories. The stories have titles like "Pittsburgh Confidential," "The Cathedral of Learning" and "Pittsburgh (1980)." Even my blog is Flash Fiction Tips & Short Stories About Pittsburgh.

For me, Pittsburgh is my Paris.

Jonathan Potts said... 12/06/2007 4:16 PM

Add me to the list: Jonathan Potts (education, media, public relations)

Harold D. Miller said... 12/08/2007 9:52 AM

Great idea - Sign me up! Harold Miller (economic development, energy, health care, public policy)

Alex Botkin said... 12/10/2007 11:22 PM

In addition virtual connectivity in blogs, there is the old fashioned face-to-face exchanges at various professional societies, networking groups, and seminars.

The Pittsburgh BusinessCalendar.Org at http://BusinessCalendar.org has been in operation close to a decade fostering these connections. We're all in this together....

Alex Botkin, Publisher

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About Pittsblog

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.

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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