Six out of 10 immigrants to Pittsburgh now arrive here with college degrees. That's the largest proportion in the U.S.
While the presence of talented immigrants is a strength, Pittsburgh needs to do a better job of attraction:
One aspect of Boston versus Pittsburgh is the issue of diversity. Boston continues to attract immigrants. Pittsburgh hasn't done that. There's starting to be recognition that an immigrant population -- particularly professionals and the ability to retain graduates of Pitt and CMU -- can in fact be important to economic growth. I know Westinghouse Electric went through a rapid growth period and they're focusing on the immigrant populations as a target to satisfy their needs.
The ability to keep foreign born skilled labor is tough to do. Immigration law often stands in the way of graduates remaining in Pittsburgh. A recent amendment provides the foreign born with another way to stay: Create more jobs in the entertainment industry.
Other Pennsylvanian communities might note the geographic scope of the immigrant investment program. But Pittsburgh is uniquely positioned to attract this kind of financial (and intellectual) capital:
Takeo Kanade, pioneer in the field of robotics and vision, spoke at the Distinguished Lecture series at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar recently. He is the fourth speaker in lecture series aimed at bringing people from all over the world to Doha so students could meet successful professionals and see how they can take their education and apply it in the workplace.
Kanade, from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh spoke at length about his research Eye Vision, which involved shooting multiple video images from multiple cameras placed at different angles during the Super Bowl XXXV game. Computers combined the video streams from the state-of-the-art cameras, and the resulting images gave viewers the feel that they were flying through the scenes. This technique was used in the major motion picture The Matrix. The technology was proven to be more than just hi-tech entertainment when it was used to decide a crucial play near the end of the game.
He also spoke of his work on the analysis of facial images and video to recognize people and understanding human expressions. He showed dynamic videos of how he conducts his research, develops his projects and brings them to fruition. And also emphasized how much fun he has had over his long and unparalleled career.
He is also the director of Digital Human Research Center in Tokyo, Japan, which he founded in 2001. Kanade has won countless awards in his 30-year career, and has mentored hundreds of Carnegie Mellon students.
The combination of hi-tech entertainment innovation and a vibrant local film industry makes Pittsburgh an ideal location for Silicon Valley Bollywood wannabes:
"It's a confluence of capital, talent and population," observed Jeff Berg, head of Hollywood talent agency International Creative Management who is also an Oracle board member. "This is India's moment on the stage."
Investing in an Indian film allows geeks to get close to the glitter.
"They are all star-struck," said Vivek Wadhwa, who founded two successful startups and invested in a movie, "My Bollywood Bride." "It's really, really cool. There is Miss Universe here, Miss India there — all these gorgeous, gorgeous women."
This new immigrant opportunity can allow these geeks to live out their fantasy in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The current instability in Mumbai makes American-based film production more attractive. Right place, right time Pittsburgh.