Audrey Russo

By Audrey Russo, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council

My last TEQ President’s Note that kicked off 2018 detailed my intense love for Pittsburgh by looking at the tools, buzz, entrepreneurs, sense of place and future of the entire region.

To follow up, I really want to riff off the recent buzz Pittsburgh has been making around the globe.

When you read this, Pittsburgh will still be reeling from the excitement of the Amazon HQ2 top 20 list and the presence of GeekWire.com, who landed here for the full month of February immersing its writers in all things tech. The coverage of our city in old-fashioned ink to digital voices has put us in an advantageous spotlight. While we have rolled out our hospitality, we have gained pointed strides, while the world has been watching.

Microsoft acquired Avere, Proofpoint acquired Wombat with intentions to grow in Pittsburgh, and in mid December, VentureBeat proclaims Pittsburgh as one of the four top tech hubs to watch in 2018. Seven out of the 59 global finalists of the AI Watson Xprize were from Pittsburgh. The Life X launch in bio and life sciences finally appears. No doubt, these distinct victories have added to the compounding notoriety of our region. Exposures like these, only continue to peak the interest of investors, talent who wants to work on solving global problems and compel us to strengthen our own “house” to ensure the vitality is positively propelled.

The interesting thing to me is, that there truly is no roadmap that belies a growth trajectory for a city that has a small and complex physical footprint, but also is in dire need of infrastructure investment. Our bridges alone command the fame of architectural charisma. The Brookings Report (https://www.brookings.edu/research/capturing-the-next-economy-pittsburghs-rise-as-a-global-innovation-city/) reminds us of our shortcomings, but ensures us that our opportunity is profound.

What better locale than the Pittsburgh region to build new industries and craft new skills? Pittsburgh has the edge. We are an extremely diverse set of markets. Innovation erupting from health care, social venture, materials science, energy, machine learning, robotics, language, medical devices, fintech, logistics, infrastructure, cover almost every aspect of solving world problems.

We can leapfrog, not replicating what other cities have mapped. But it’s in the storytelling which provides the proliferation of what’s happening here. And we are seeing the appearance of many people who are telling these stories, through podcasts, through social media and through new venues which help capture the human conditions as we search for the new world of work and connections.

Why not use the clarity of our accomplishments and fine tune the messaging via all the people who are tethered virtually and physically to our region. That is our discrete asset – the global Pittsburgh. It is real. We are seeing that for the first time, national mobility trends reveal there are more people who are interested in leaving high-density, high-cost cities and looking into the heartland of the U.S. for opportunities. These shifts paired with imminently transformative automation (automobiles, call centers and retail services) are all at risk for seismic employment changes. Many entry level jobs as we know them will disappear – reappearing in shapes and sizes that many of us are not prepared.

What better locale than the Pittsburgh region to build new industries and craft new skills? Pittsburgh has the edge. We are an extremely diverse set of markets. Innovation erupting from health care, social venture, materials science, energy, machine learning, robotics, language, medical devices, fintech, logistics, infrastructure, cover almost every aspect of solving world problems. We are not a one-trick city. We have expertise in building every new market. We have to tell the world through aggressive, proactive and often guerrilla like story telling.

Join us at the Tech Council as we continuously widen our net, reaching out to explore the contextual growth of people, our leaders, our newcomers and our students, who are embracing new intersections, bold ideas, solving complex problems while wrestling with inclusivity.

The more we know, the more we share. The more companies tell their stories, their mission, the more we attract the talent to fuel their ideas. The more we tell these stories, the more we can better represent the issues that we face, as well as celebrate our collective pride in our continuous rebirth. We work to make sure that the voices of the tech and innovation business community are heard, as our imprint is now over a third of the region’s payroll. The successes resonate throughout all of our systems and services. Small businesses fuel tomorrow and our corporations only differentiate themselves via innovation and technology.