'Imagine' to blur region's divisions
The Charlotte region in North and South Carolina won a National Football League franchise and expanded jobs by working as a region, rather than as 16 separate counties in two states.
Now the Pittsburgh region wants to do something similar.
Perhaps early next year, leaders from 33 counties in Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia and western Maryland will begin reshaping the area's identity.
The initiative, called Imagine Greater Pittsburgh, is the brainchild of three nonprofits -- the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership.
"The point of this is to create a sense of identity for our region," said Kevin Evanto, spokesman for Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato. "The regions that are succeeding are the ones that have a strong regional identity. They don't get hung up on municipal boundaries, county boundaries and state boundaries."
Charlotte and Calgary, Canada, are good examples of that.
Charlotte began thinking regionally in 1991, at first with 11 counties and eventually 16, under the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
Gina Howard, spokeswoman for the partnership, said the approach helped that area land an NFL team and other businesses.
"Everybody's pulling together across state lines," she said. "That's why we're the Carolina Panthers rather than the Charlotte Panthers.
"If you're just trying to recruit businesses from your neighbors, you're not adding jobs to the economy."
In 2004, Calgary set a vision that improves how it connects its light-rail system to where the most people live, said Linda Spenser, manager of the Imagine Calgary Transition Team.
Pittsburgh's initiative differs from earlier efforts because of its size -- as many as 33 counties in four states -- and a growing sense that all counties in the area benefit from the economic gains of one.
"A win for one county is a win for all of us," Howard said.
Evanto agreed that attempts to think regionally are nothing new here. But, he said, the greater understanding of the global economy is likely to make the current effort more successful.
He said money for the project will come from foundations and corporations.
Organizers are trying to recruit a steering committee that will hire a staff. William P. Getty, president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, hopes the project starts early next year.
"We need to think how we can be most competitive (not only) in a global context, but also in an energy-constrained economy," said Getty, one of the organizers.
According to another organizer, Gregg Behr, executive director of The Grable Foundation, one of the goals is to recognize issues such as economic development, work force preparation, environmental conservation, education and public infrastructure.
Leaders of the initiative say it will solicit ideas about the future of the region from citizens through a variety of forums.
"If the past for Pittsburgh has been top-down decision-making, with a select few people deciding what the future of the region ought to be, this is the opposite of that," said Grant Oliphant, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation. "It's involving the whole community in a dialogue about what the future ought to look like."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fix near, Moraine beach reopening expected
- LaBar: Kurt Angle preparing for WWE return
- Rowling spins web of publishing mystery
- Despite challenges, Wuerl campus set to open
- ‘Farm’ cultivates little suspense
- Butler care facility to be named after Grapevine Center executive director
- Former Butler, PSU LB sharing insights with young players
- Belle Vernon students to get a dose of ‘reality’
- McGraw eyes quick turnaround for SRU women
- Most of $9M surplus being used to cover Butler County budget needs
- Former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV official has July 30 federal court date