Think Pittsburgh and what comes to mind? Most people envision steel mills and smokestacks, but that is the old Pittsburgh.The new Pittsburgh was voted America's most livable city in 2007, ranked as a Top 10 city for job growth, ranked No. 1 in a study of farmers markets and community gardens per capita, had the third-lowest crime rate among the top 50 U.S. metros and ranked No. 3 as an art destination.What gives? The Dubuque Chamber of Commerce is organizing a trip for city and business leaders to find out. It's the first of what could be an annual Intercity Leadership Visit to a U.S. city to study how others have overcome challenges Dubuque is facing.
What gives? Pittsburgh? Again, there's the surprise factor at the heart of the narrative. I'd bet that Pittsburgh residents are surprised to learn that the city has so much in common with Dubuque. There is even an incline in this Iowa community. No, industrial Iowa isn't an oxymoron.
The perception of place informs the brain drain problem. Dubuque? Who would move there? Rust Belt communities are struggling to figure out how to get on the map of outsiders in a positive light. Attractive shrinking city is definitely an oxymoron.