When two business-development groups last year announced their intention to make Cleveland-to-Pittsburgh the ''Biosciences Tech Belt,'' there was some skepticism as to whether the regions could really collaborate.
The objective was to market the 150-mile span as a ''mega-region,'' leveraging resources to draw greater levels of funding and talent into the area.
But advocates knew they faced a historic rivalry driven by sports, traditional us-versus-them economies, and the inherent challenges of working across state lines.
This is where bloggers come into play. The Rust Belt Bloggers Summit in Erie was intimate and our agenda none too ambitious. I walked away from that experience with a greater appreciation of the value of face-to-face interaction. I also learned that these relationships can be maintained over a long distance via the tools of social media. I intend to explore this dynamic further at PodCamp Pittsburgh in October (18th-19th).
Bloggers and business aren't the only stakeholders advancing Cleveburgh:
YSU, as [Dr. David Sweet, president of Youngstown State University,] noted in his ninth annual State of the University address Monday to campus faculty and staff, must think of itself as the center of the emerging tech belt between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. That goal is not as far-fetched as it may appear, given that [Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th,] and his colleague in the House, Jason Altmire of McCandless, Pa., D-4th, have been working closely to develop the technology corridor. They share the opinion that YSU is ideally positioned to be a major player.
Cleveburgh isn't just a figment of my over-active imagination. Youngstown is where Cleveland meets Pittsburgh. You can spy fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers regularly reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Youngstown has its own deep loyalty, but both Pittsburgh and Cleveland are part of the mental maps of most residents. The awareness isn't mutual (a bit like the relationship between Canadians and Americans), but we bloggers are working to change that.