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Fitzgerald Calls Pittsburgh A Destination For Young People As City, County Officials Take Oaths

Many of the region's officials kicked off a new administration with their new year Monday.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald took his second oath of office alongside several Allegheny County Council members, Pittsburgh City Council members and Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb.

Fitzgerald took the opportunity to talk about how the region has transformed from a place of mass exodus to a hub for young people. 

When Fitzgerald first took office four years ago, the county was in the midst of a court-ordered reassessment, which he said threatened investment. At the swearing-in to his second term, Fitzgerald outlined successes of his first term.

“I’m proud to report that last year we had over $3 billion of private investment in commercial and residential building. And we’re expecting another $3 billion, which is on the books for this year,” he said.

He said he first ran for public office 15 years ago after he watched family and friends move away from a region where they couldn't see a future.

“Mayor (Bill) Peduto and I talk about that all the time. Being from the same generation, our high school classes, as they graduated and went off to college, many of them never came back,” he said. “And we needed to change that. One of the reasons I got into this … was to try to create the climate and be part of a team that would allow young people to stay and allow young people to come.”

Between 1970 and 2000, the Pittsburgh region lost more than 300,000 residents as long-held jobs in the manufacturing sector fell away. U.S. Census data show the city population could be beginning to rebound. The volume of residents fleeing the area has largely plateaued at around 305,000 since 2010.

Fitzgerald credited much of that to Pittsburgh's new identity as a destination for young people. City and county officials are working together to make sure young people have opportunities to thrive, he said.

“That spirit of working together is something that really embodies the spirit of what we have in Pittsburgh," he said. "Business works with labor, works with government, works with our universities, our foundations, our community groups. Even though there are 130 municipalities and 43 school districts, we work together.”

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.