Those ideas were responses to my comment, which was:
Pittsburgh has deep-seated economic problems that can be cured -- if they can be cured, and that's a very big "if" -- only with sustained growth. It is doubtful that Pittsburgh's growth can come entirely or even largely from within -- from local material and knowledge resources, local investment, local labor. What will it take to bring those resources, investment, and labor from outside the region? "Sushi" is a semi-serious proposed answer to that question.
Commenters dissed sushi, though I did hear privately from one Silicon Valley entrepreneur who agreed with me: Sushi is da bomb. (How did he find the post?)
I'm happy to leave sushi on the "semi" side of the "serious" line here, but bullet trains and maglev aren't answers either. I don't want to host another debate about this (look through the archives, and do the same at Null Space), but I suspect that the maglev reference was, like sushi, semi-serious. And as much as rebuilding the fabric of Pittsburgh's central neighborhoods would be a good thing, I doubt very much that it's more than a very modest start.
Infrastructural improvements are, however, a good place to look. What are genuine hooks for attracting economic development and growth to Pittsburgh? (And, as Harold Miller points out, for nurturing the firms that are already here.)
-- Prime the Uptown corridor for development. It's too late in the day to suggest restoring (light) rail service along Fifth Avenue, but with UPMC taking over Mercy Hospital, there are players in town with good economic reasons to invest in the area.
-- Find outside investors willing to put money into local businesses, that is, to compete with local firms. Right now, I'm talking with a friend who invests in small manufacturing enterprises. He's not based in Pittsburgh, but he's intrigued by my general description of the strength of manufacturing here.
-- Build out Pittsburgh 2.0, a social infrastructure for the economic development community. Since putting my line in the water at the beginning of the year, twice I've been contacted by or on behalf of what are now called "C-level" folks who are interested in relocating to Pittsburgh and starting or running companies here. I've passed them on to local lawyers, C-levels, and ED folks who, feedback sez, have been extremely helpful at getting them plugged in. And I'm just a law professor; imagine the kind of impact that someone in the economic development community could have if they publicly adopt a "pay it forward" strategy for Pittsburgh. While I'm at it, note the upper left column of this blog. Feel free to send me your contact info, so that I can add your name.
Critique those, and add your own.