Update: Given Brian Kelsey's query, this quote from HuffPo seems appropriate:
The report finds two distinct Manufacturing Belts (Berube said Brookings went with "Manufacturing Belt" instead of "Rust Belt" because, "We have friends there who have been trying to shed the rust image for some time"). One belt spans Midwestern metro areas decimated by the auto industry and the other is in the Northeast, where manufacturing in aerospace and plastics hasn't seen such a decline.
Two Rust Belts? Try three.
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Despite a shrinking population, there's energy percolating in the Burgh. A buzz. I can easily overstate all the positive publicity. So, I'll let the team at Bright Innovation do the talking:
There are some compelling points within the article. California, or at least silicon valley, has always been the land of entrepreneurial opportunity for the U.S. The article cites that in 2007, 63% of Californians had moved from another state to seek opportunity. The opportunity they were seeking, Silicon Valley is the largest venture capital market in the U.S. Lately Pittsburgh has become the second fastest growing VC markets, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Pittsburgh has shown 513% growth totaling $197 million over the last ten years. This economic growth is a sign of fertile opportunities and technologies in the region. It is no surprise to me with top universities, hospitals, manufacturing and companies in the area that Pittsburgh's growth is on the rise once more. ...
... Two of us in the office at Bright Innovation have moved back to Pittsburgh from California. While California is an appealing place full of opportunity. It would seem Pittsburgh, and other rust belt cities like it, are becoming hot beds for similar opportunities but on a smaller scale. With this growing base of young professionals flocking back to Pittsburgh from their professional travels the city may experience a renaissance if it plays its cards right as it emerges from this economic downturn and takes its place as an innovation powerhouse with the necessary mindshare and infrastructure for growth.
The obvious civic boosterism aside, there are opportunities in Pittsburgh that you can't find in Silicon Valley. Pittsburgh is NOT the next Silicon Valley. And I wouldn't necessarily lump the region in with the rest of the Rust Belt. Love it or hate it (for better or for worse), Pittsburgh is its own peculiar animal.
To help explain, I found a story from a former place of residence (where my father toiled at the General Electric plant in Schenectady) in Upstate New York:
The robotics program is part of St. Clement’s effort to enrich students’ education with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts, an initiative that’s become popular in area school districts throughout the region in recent years.
While Ballston Spa Central School District boasts a budding high school robotics team that started this year, the program at St. Clement’s is unique among area elementary schools.
It was developed by LEGO Education and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., which then sell the system to schools throughout the country, Knotek said. St. Clement’s used Alumni Association funds to purchase a LEGO Mindstorms system (including LEGO Education NXT software and four robot-building kits) three years ago, which students have been using since then in Knotek’s technology class.
Robots and Pittsburgh are practically synonymous. I think sooner rather than later, robotics will give way to the conversation going on between art and technology:
The Pittsburgh Technology Council's Art and Technology Initiative invites you to join us for the opening of the 2009 Annual Art and Technology Exhibition and the BurghBot Project. To celebrate the synergy that exists between the art and tech communities in Pittsburgh, the Council is partnering with the James Gallery and CREATE Lab to create this one-of-a-kind exhibition. The show opens at the 15 Minutes Gallery on June 18, 2009 and run throughout the summer.
I'm happy to plug a Burgh event. But I tend to showcase only that which makes the city special. Pittsburgh isn't just a place where artists interface with technology. It is THE place. Those Ballston Spa kids might stick around and help revitalize New York's Rust Belt. Or, they might fall in love with Pittsburgh, like I did.
It's steel good in Pittsburgh.