Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bar the Talent Gate

When labor mobility is king, local returns on investments in education are hard to find. Regardless, regions continue to try to solve this riddle. Pittsburgh's latest effort, via Carnegie Mellon University, is Project Olympus. Pittsburgh doesn't lack initiatives to identify, attract, and retain talent. Part of the problem is the absence of coordinated efforts:

Although there is an ever-growing cadre of economic development entities operating in Pittsburgh, [Project Olympus director Lenore Blum] acknowledged, "they're not all tied together." ...

... Catherine Mott, managing partner of Wexford-based BlueTree Capital Group LLC, said Olympus can help fill a gap in the market.

"What's missing is there's no central place for anyone to go to tap talent," she said.

I do think that Pittsburgh would benefit from one stop talent shopping, particularly when courting financial capital from outside of the region. Pittsburgh needs a cohesive vision that appeals to a broad constituency. Again, I'm reminded of Tim Zak's comment in one of Mark DeSantis' Pittsburgh Quarterly articles about the missing ingredient for an economically resurgent region: A "critical mass of like-minded people."

I know that CMU is pushing hard to establish itself as the key entity promoting innovation in Pittsburgh. But is what is good for CMU, good for Pittsburgh? I don't see much harm in trying. That CMU is even interested in promoting itself as a valuable regional asset is good thing. I figure that CMU could thrive without much Pittsburgh benefit. Still, I'd like to know if and how Project Olympus is aligning itself with the "ever-growing cadre of economic development entities operating in Pittsburgh."

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