Forging Innovation

Catalyzing economic development in Pittsburgh through collaborative discussion and emergent thought.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Call to Action

Economic development advocates have long debated the appropriate mechanisms through which they can effectively stimulate the growth of the regional economy. Although economic development organizations and community leaders have undoubtedly made progress positively impacting the growth of the region, their fragmented efforts have clearly not gained the critical mass necessary to establish a pattern of self-sustaining growth. This is evident from the mass exodus of our youth population and low start-up retention rates.

We must recognize the reality of the situation. These issues need to be addressed with an increased sense of urgency. If we do not act as a community, the long-term path dependent effects may become irreversible. It is incumbent upon local leadership to take immediate action together. No single group, policy, or investment plan can affect the magnitude, or trajectory, of our economic growth. Our leaders must work in concert to institute a coordinated set of policies to revitalize the region. These policies must be derived from a fundamental set of guiding principles. Guiding principles must be simple and involve the entire community.

Policies derived from guiding principles must leverage our strengths as a region and harness the core competencies of organizations already in existence. The goal is not to reinvent the wheel, but to instead to promote a unified economic development while minimizing the amount of change with respect to current infrastructure over time. More importantly, these policies must address the systemic nature of the problems afflicting the region and contribute to the singular goal of promoting a forward-thinking culture conducive to self-sustaining, recombinative innovation. Recombinative innovation is the reorganization of capital into value-generating structures that attract further capital and contribute to positive feedback mechanisms and agglomeration effects. This force is responsible for the patterns of self-sustaining growth associated with high-impact, economic clusters such as Silicon Valley and Route 128.

This is not going to be an easy. A few brave leaders must step forward. These leaders must abandon individual politics and act selflessly for the greater good. They must make choices in the face of uncertainty. They must be willing to persevere as the very people they are fighting for provide the greatest opposition to the changes they seek to institute. That is the price of leadership.

Who is willing to pay the price?


  • At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Are the city and county working on any projects towards this end?


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