If Diego Rivera was drawing frescoes for the Detroit Institute of Arts today, he'd probably be drawing robots, not men.
That's the picture of a blended manufaturing and knowledge economy painted Tuesday by Wayne State University's still relatively new president, Jay Noren, at the Detroit Economic Club. ...
... Noren was to have appeared with the presidents of the other two universities in the Michigan University Research Corridor, but University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman was called away. So Noren was introduced by, and appeared at a press conference after his speech, by only Michigan State University President Lou Anna K Simon.
Noren used the example of Pittsburgh, written off for dead following the collapse of its steel industry in the 1980s. But the city has transformed itself into a thriving center of software, biotechnology, health care and medical research. ...
... Noren said the URC has a crucial role to play. He said research shows the URC is already ahead of some of its competition -- six other regional university-tech industry collaborations in Boston, Northern California, North Carolina, Chicago, Southern California and Pittsburgh.
As you likely expect, Pittsburghers aren't buying the hype. Locals seem to lack perspective when it comes to leadership. Somehow, no other place could possibly as incompetent as the buffoons screwing things up in your backyard. Where, exactly, is the grass so much greener? Los Angeles?
Think about the benchmarking cohort Noren lists:
The report measures the Research Corridor universities against six comparable clusters in regions known as knowledge economy leaders: Boston’s 128 Corridor: Harvard University/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tufts University; Silicon Valley/Northern California: Stanford University, University of California-Berkley and UC-San Francisco; the Research Triangle: University of North Carolina, Duke University and N.C. State University; Chicago/Illinois: University of Chicago, Northwestern University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Southern California: UCLA, University of Southern California and UC-San Diego; and Pennsylvania: Penn State University (all campuses), University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
Let Pittsburgh as a "knowledge economy leader" sink in and mull that over for a spell. That's how the region looks to outsiders. This isn't another case of blind civic boosterism. This is an exciting time for Greater Pittsburgh and significant opportunities are on the horizon:
Some at the meeting expressed concern for environmental issues, as well as alternate transport, including better use of the rivers and high-speed rail. While [Congressman Jason Altmire] said these were off-topic for this meeting, he declared himself as a supporter of rebuilding the Montgomery Dock and Dam, a Mag-Lev train from the Airport to downtown Pittsburgh and out to Monroeville, and high-speed rail linking Cleveland and Pittsburgh as part of his wider “Tech Belt” development project.
“I’m a big fan of high speed rail,” state Altmire, “and I sit on the railroad committee, where we’ll deal the billions Obama has designated for it. Likewise with Mag-Lev and the rivers. These are the key to longer range development that also helps the environment.
I can't stress enough the throwing of your support behind the Tech Belt initiative. I'm particularly impressed with the leadership in Youngstown. Continue taking potshots at Mayor Steelerstahl, if you must. But don't paint the entire region with such broad brushstrokes. There are successes that should be celebrated and good ideas that should be promoted.
Update: More news about the possibility of a reborn Maglev project for Pittsburgh.