#1 Yet Again!

pittsburgh-at-nightRecently, Sperling’s Best Places compiled its list of “Best Cities to Relocate to in America,” and topping it was none other than Pittsburgh.  Among the criteria used by Sperling to evaluate the cities were such elements as people, education, crime, climate, and economy.  All these aspects taken together contributed to a factor that distinguishes our city and makes it desirable for businesses and workers to relocate: stability.  Pittsburgh has a relatively stable economy and business loves stability.  That is why our area is on an upswing, ahead of the rest of the economy.

While Pittsburgh has suffered from hard times in past decades, the city and its surrounding area have transformed a steel-based economy and workforce to a more diversified one emphasizing technology, service, and professional sectors.  People all over the world are beginning to take notice.

This transformation has not evolved effortlessly; it has taken place through Pittsburghers doing what they do best: rolling up their sleeves and working hard.  Organizations such as The Allegheny Conference on Community Development, The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, and Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania have mobilized to study our area, recommend ways to its increase growth, and create a favorable business climate.

#7 Is Still in the Top 10!

Site Selection, an economic development industry journal, ranked Pittsburgh No. 7 on its “2009 Top 10 U.S. Metros” list because of the significant amount of corporate investment in the Pittsburgh region.  The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance reported that in 2008 the region attracted $4.2 billion in corporate investments, which was over $1 billion more than 2007’s total.

Almost Recession Proof

pgh-riversOne reason the area is drawing attention is that the recession has had a lesser impact here than in other parts of the country.  Certainly, Pittsburgh has felt the impact of the tanking economy, but in comparison to other regions, we have been spared the skyrocketing unemployment, sinking home values, and massive layoffs.  Nationally, the unemployment rate has been hovering around 10 percent, while Pittsburgh’s has been closer to 8 percent.  Sperling’s estimates that Pittsburgh’s future job growth over the next 10 years is predicted to be 23.64 percent while the rest of the country is predicted to not fare as well with a 21.68 percent growth rate.

Since our economic base is not solely relying on one industry, Pittsburgh has not seen the boom and bust economic cycle that other places such as Silicon Valley or Las Vegas have suffered.  This makes our business climate much more favorable both for enterprises looking to establish facilities here and for entities already here.

There are more than five dozen large corporations operating in Pittsburgh, many of which have made the city their corporate headquarters.  Countless other smaller entities contribute to the rosy business outlook.

Real Growth in Pittsburgh Now

A quick perusal of the recent headlines of the Pittsburgh Business Times backs up Sperling’s assertion that Pittsburgh has suffered less economic turmoil and is poised to come roaring back when the national economy turns around.  A recent article from the Times noted that business bankruptcy filings in the area have fallen to their lowest point since 2008, and many companies are choosing to invest rather than going belly up.  Verizon announced that it will open a FiOS center in downtown Pittsburgh in May 2011 called the “Fiber Solutions Center.”  It will employ about 200 people.  The Portland-based law firm Bateman Seidel Miner Blomgren Chellis & Graham has opened a Pittsburgh office.  Pat McDonnell, owner of the very successful chain of Atria’s restaurants, opened a new restaurant, the Juniper Grill, in Peters Township.  SMART Solution Technologies purchased five buildings on the North Side to accommodate its expanding business.  The list goes on and on.

Pittsburgh has been adding jobs, which has presented another problem: there are many jobs that remain unfilled.  There are a variety of reasons why this is so, but among them are that the local population can’t keep up with the job growth, the employee base does not have the proper training, or that many of the Baby Boomers residing here are beginning to retire and there aren’t enough workers to replace them.

22,000 Job Openings

smithfield-bridgeAccording to a report from the Allegheny Conference, in 2010 there were 22,000 positions on the jobs database.   Most would assume these jobs required advanced degrees.  However, that is not the case.  The report states that two-thirds of them did not require a college degree.

Pittsburgh is facing a “Field of Dreams” scenario.  The city has built a stable economy.  Now we must wait for the workers to come.  As word gets out about Pittsburgh’s flourishing business future and the focus is shifted to attracting, training, and retaining a 21st century workforce, Pittsburgh will no doubt continue to make the list of one of the top places in the country for people to move to and where businesses feel secure to invest their resources.



By Jan Palko