Peduto visits Chicago to tout Pittsburgh's 'new economy'
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told an audience in Chicago on Wednesday that his policies will give new opportunities to city neighborhoods that he said have been neglected.
“We've been getting a lot of accolades for the new economy that's been built, and that's been a 30-year process,” he said during a one-day visit to Chicago. “There are still neighborhoods where I've lost 80 percent of my population.”
Peduto was one of three mayors invited to speak at the inaugural “What Works” event Politico magazine hosted in the heart of Chicago's business district dubbed “From Rust Belt to Tech Belt? Lessons from the Latest Industrial Revolution.”
Peduto joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Ind., both elected in 2011.
In the 50-minute forum, they spoke of the challenges and policies used to transform their one-time manufacturing towns into cities focused on 21st Century technology, improving education and encouraging public-private development.
Peduto said his new Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment will focus on bringing the benefits of the city's new economies to Pittsburgh neighborhoods that have large swaths of vacant building and blighted properties.
Programs would include rent assistance for new businesses in blighted neighborhoods to encourage developers to use empty storefronts, Peduto said. The city will encourage connections between religious groups and social service nonprofits to better connect with neighborhood needs, he said.
Pittsburgh's tech economy was featured in the first “What Works” magazine edition from Politico. Editor-in-chief and forum moderator John Harris asked Peduto what strengths Pittsburgh has beyond it the colleges and universities that have helped to propel its revival after the steel industry's collapse.
Peduto said state and federal investments into “high technology” planted the seeds decades ago, including supercomputer projects at Carnegie Mellon University.
“Once upon a time, Pittsburgh produce 40 percent of the steel on earth,” he said. “Today our production of what we export is innovation But that took 30 years to get to.”
Spokesman Tim McNulty said Politico covered the mayor's travel expenses.
Peduto is scheduled to return to Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon, according to his schedule. He left for Chicago on Tuesday afternoon.
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-380-8511.
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