Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Logistics Pittsburgh

Blog post title not catchy enough? How about "From Rust Belt to Exporting Giant"? That got me to click through. Pittsburgh is at the center of three major corridors. I like to write about the DC connection. Chris Briem (Null Space) is Mr. Cleveburgh. The third leg that I have almost completely ignored is featured in the latest issue of Global Trade (click on that title if you haven't already):

Sister cities along the Ohio are booming. Greater Cincinnati ranked 16th on the ITA's list of top exporters, shipping $17.6 billion in 2010. The Pittsburgh metropolitan area ranked 20th and exported $17.6 billion (sic). Meanwhile 39th-ranked Louisville shipped $6.2 billion. Among the top metropolitan exporters, Pittsburgh was one of the fastest growing, with merchandise exports between 2009 and 2010 growing 46 percent over this period.

Emphasis added. The dollar figure for Pittsburgh's exports is incorrect. It should be $12.2 billion. That bit of fact checking dispensed, what a fabulously glowing review of Pittsburgh's and the Ohio River corridor's exporting prowess. There must be a bunch of people involved in economic development exchanging high-fives over the piece. I might have picked the most boring and subdued passage. Seriously, read it.

More relevant to my blog, check out this part of the article:

“The pioneering things that have happened in the region the last several years make it more attractive for young people who might have left to come back,” says [Lucas Piatt], at age 35 representative of the development’s target demographic. “Pittsburgh is an attractive urban environment now, and we are competing for young people who might look at Boston or New York to look here. Industries are coming back, jobs are coming back, and people are coming back. Our developments are for people who want the hustle and bustle, who like the excitement of living in a place like New York or Boston.”

While people “laughed at us” a few years ago for investing in downtown development, Piatt says, no one is chuckling now. Rather, Millcraft’s developments have waiting lists.

“After 20 years of people leaving the region,” he says with pride, “now they are coming back.”

Pittsburgh isn't just faring relatively well. It is booming. Over the last week, I've thought a lot about boomtowns coming out of the recession of the early 1990s when I was a young adult trying to find work. Two cities were rumored to have jobs-'o-plenty, Minneapolis and Seattle. I had luck in Minneapolis. I got a firsthand look at Seattle over a year later. The other hot destination floating around the nomad circuit was Austin. I didn't hear much about employment, but the scene was outstanding (think Portland, OR). What would be the analogous three today?

Seattle's clone is easy. Pittsburgh. Right now, Pittsburgh is booming like Seattle was. More from that gusher in Global Trade:

In Pittsburgh, young graduates of top-rated local schools like Carnegie Mellon create video games for global markets, an export category rising fast toward the levels of historical export leaders like mining and metal products.

Oh, yeah! I'm drinking the Kool Aid today. And just to let Chris Briem know I'm still reading his Twitter feed:

A Disney spokesperson tells me that Jessica Hodgins now oversees the Disney lab in Cambridge. Based in Pittsburgh, she also oversees Disney labs there and in California. Jonathan Yedidia is the lone senior researcher still working at the Disney lab, though there are a trio of professors who work as consultants, along with a cadre of post-doctoral researchers and interns.

Not a coincidence that the US Disney labs are run from Pittsburgh. Did you hear about the animation studio cluster? Did you catch the trailer premier on the MTV awards show for that new Emma Watson flick? Pittsburgh is a hot commodity.

Now for the disappointment. I don't have a good analogy for Minneapolis and Austin. Any suggestions?

No comments: