Pittsburgh To Host National Innovative + Inclusive City Workshop
Mayor Bill Peduto said he receives weekly requests from American cities and abroad asking him to visit and tell the Steel City’s story of resilience.
He couldn’t possibly visit them all, so it’s convenient that 25 municipal, non-profit and business leaders from across the country are coming to Pittsburgh this week for the Innovative + Inclusive City workshop.
The conference, a project of the non-profit CEOs for Cities, runs Wednesday through Friday at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District.
“A city like Pittsburgh can show how a place that lost more people than New Orleans lost after Katrina, faced higher unemployment than Detroit faces now, and created a debt structure in their budget higher than New York City’s when it went bankrupt has the ability not only to come back but to prosper, and how all cities can do the same,” Peduto said.
Pittsburgh was recently named as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, and its re-emergence as a vibrant, livable metropolis three decades after the collapse of the steel industry is no secret.
“Pittsburgh is doing many, many things right,” said Lee Fisher, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities. “Although every city has room to improve, I think we’re going to learn a lot from Pittsburgh. It’s one of the most walkable cities in the country; it’s a city that is promoting biking.”
Fisher said the idea behind the organization’s bi-annual conferences is to help cities learn from each other so they don’t have to re-invent the wheel.
One of the keys to a city’s success lies in engaging private sector and philanthropic organizations to create inclusive, sustainable economic growth, he said.
“The bottom line is that although America’s economy is rebounding, not all citizens, especially low income citizens, are seeing that rebound,” Fisher said. “If you really want your city to grow, you have to make sure that everyone benefits, not just a few.”
Peduto will deliver the keynote speech at the conference Thursday morning and will give closing remarks Friday afternoon. To demonstrate how far the city has come, he said he’ll show video footage of smoke stacks choking Pittsburgh skies in the 1920s and 1930s.
“Cities are resilient,” Peduto said. “You can bomb a city, burn a city, flood a city or rip the economic heart out of a city, and the city has the ability to come back. It’s almost like a living organism.”
Peduto said he looks forward to learning from leaders from other cities as well. He said one of Pittsburgh’s greatest challenges is simply bringing city government into the 21st Century by ditching pen and paper processes, making data-driven decisions and incorporating artificial intelligence into municipal systems.
Pittsburgh residents were eligible for discounted registration.