“We are a city on the rise and we have rebounded,” said Greg Jordan, Chief Administrative Officer of PNC on the opening night of the Inter-regional visit to Pittsburgh, June 19th. The Hampton Roads delegates convened in PNC Park for a Pirates game and were greeted by a team of the city’s leaders and visionaries. Referencing the vibrant PNC Park, Jordan said, “The Mayor did all this, including picking the very spot for this park. I know you visited Nashville, which is thriving, Pittsburgh is having the same resurgence as Nashville.”
The vibrancy of the city was evident from the park where the rivers meet and the bridges dot the skyline. Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive said, “Getting this built in the exact spot that it is in took all aspects of county development working together. We work together, that’s the secret sauce. We built on our strengths and we landed on Amazon’s top 20 list for its second headquarters. Everyone is saying, ‘Pittsburgh’ is an overnight success, but we’ve been 30 years in the making of this success story.”
Tom Murphy, the former Mayor of Pittsburgh, shed light on this gradual trajectory of success. It began with some dismal figures. “From 1970 to 1990 Pittsburgh lost 60% of its population, going from 620,000 people to 300,000 people. When I took office in 1994, I had to reimagine Pittsburgh. I was the chairman of the public housing authority and it began there. 12% of the population lived in public housing and you can’t reimagine the city if you leave them behind. This involved making big changes to public housing and creating a mixed-income community. We had to take a no guts, no glory approach and we had great partners in PNC. With these big changes you must understand that there is conflict involved,” said Murphy. The new ball park, football stadium and convention center were all built at one time. “Nobody believed anything would happen, but that $1.5 million dollar development was an investment in the future. You either spend all your money on today or you use money to invest in the future, that’s what we did,” Murphy said.
He urged the business leaders of Hampton Roads to think about four things for the future of the region, “Money, land control, sophisticated deal making capacity and reimagining your city and knowing what you want to do for your city,” Murphy said.
Bill Flanagan, Chief Corporate Relations Officer, Allegheny Conference shared the importance of the business and corporate community to step up. With the Pittsburgh Pirates taking the field in the background, Flanagan gave some insight. “In the 1980’s when the team was near bankruptcy, the steel mills were out of business, and the team was going to leave the state, it was the business community that stepped up. PNC bought a share of the team, and Alcoa, and others. It was the corporate community team. The CEO’s did this and built a good enough team over the next 10 years that they could find ownership. They believed in the strategic value of this team which would make Pittsburgh a major league city. This team represents the amazing story of a public/private partnership.”
Craig Davis, President and CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH, said “Tourism is one of the strongest parts of our economy and we have manifested our success in the work that has come before us.”
It is clearly the vision of the potential the region had, which has built Pittsburgh’s success and resurgence.