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.