Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Leading Rust Belt Revival

Pittsburgh may be unaware, but the city serves as a model for the transition to the knowledge economy:

When it comes to the flow of venture capital and a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, the Cincinnati region may not compare with the likes of Austin, Boston or Silicon Valley.

It might even have some catching up to do with Pittsburgh, which has successfully transformed from a manufacturing and steel economy into an incubator for technology-based start-ups.

But area venture capitalists and start-up experts say the local outlook is much better than in years past, thanks to a stronger ground-level infrastructure helping fledgling companies get off the ground - including more state funding at the early stages.

That holds true especially in Ohio, which is trying to follow in Pittsburgh's footsteps and convert its Rust Belt manufacturing-based economy into one that is more tech oriented and has seen a significant increase in venture-capital investment.

The grass is greener in Pittsburgh for Kansas City as well. Most Burghers likely bristle at such glowing accounts, but I sense that other regions are looking to Pittsburgh for leadership. I haven't seen much evidence supporting Pittsburgh's embrace of this role, but I could be wrong on that score. However, I haven't noticed any other shrinking city stepping up to the plate.

Not that Cincinnati is asking, but I think both cities would benefit from substantial collaboration.

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