Saturday, June 09, 2007

Inter-regional Connectivity

I wanted to blog about an article in the New York Times concerning the management of a global labor market, but The Creativity Exchange beat me to it. No matter since I've beaten the labor mobility theme to death over the past week or so. Instead, I'll revisit frontier geographies, where Pittsburgh might find some innovation and less risk aversion. I'm curious about places situated between regions, in this case Frederick, MD and the return of a prodigal daughter.

Laura Kelley recently joined Robin Jones, a marketing firm in Frederick. There isn't anything remarkable about this story and I wouldn't have noticed save for the mention that Ms. Kelley is a Steelers fan since her parents are from Pittsburgh:

The privately held company does not disclose revenues or profits, [Robin Jones managing partner Ellie Whims] said. In addition to the Tech Council of Maryland, its approximately 25 clients include Engineering Systems Solutions Corp. and Greentree Homes in Frederick, Rodgers Consulting Inc. in Germantown and Conquest Technologies Inc. in Sykesville. The firm also has clients in Washington, D.C., Delaware, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The firm is in Frederick, Whims said, for easy access to Baltimore, the District, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and other mid-Atlantic cities.

That should please Kelley, who said she is a ‘‘huge” Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Her parents, who still live in Frederick County, were originally from Pittsburgh. In her spare time, Kelley, who holds a degree in communications from McDaniel College in Westminster, also takes dance classes in Frederick.

I've posted before about how I fancy this area as a strategic location between Pittsburgh and its DC-based Diaspora. Frederick is mainly oriented towards Baltimore and Washington, DC, but is far enough west to tap the Pittsburgh market (and flirt with Steelers Country). Robin Jones appreciates this value, but I don't know how prevalent this perspective is.

Unfortunately for the Mon Valley, Pittsburgh's frontier is north of the city. I finally figured this out when Westinghouse announced its decision to build a new campus in Cranberry for its expanding nuclear power plant production. Most innovation corridors are in the suburbs, not downtown. I don't think the pull of DC is sufficient to draw the talent south of the city to the many development opportunities in the Mon Valley. However, the boomtown that is Cranberry is not situated to take advantage of inter-regional exchange. Unless, you count Cleveland as a distinct region with unique comparative economic advantages that might compliment what's lacking in the Burgh.

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