Groups representing labor, industry and the community will call for the formation of a jobs commission at a town hall meeting in City Council chambers at 2:00 p.m. today, followed by a rally on the City-County Building steps featuring Congressman Mike Doyle. Participants will then march down Grant Street to the Federal Building.
Ike Gittlen of the United Steelworkers said that Pittsburgh has a rich and successful tradition of using public/private partnerships to solve regional problems and maximize available opportunities, and that there are opportunities even in this depressed economy. For example, said Gittlen, there is a trend of companies coming back from overseas to the U.S. for cost, quality, and shipping considerations. The right regional outreach could make Pittsburgh home to these "re-shored" companies.
Gittlen says the state already has an infrastructure bank, which should be able to create regional pools of money for start-ups and expansions. A regional commission could vie for the foreign money available for investment in the U.S. because of global currency issues.
The region's manufacturing health may surprise people, said Gittlen, and additional money available for investment could lead to new start-ups and acceleration, often with the region's schools as catalysts.
Gittlen says a jobs commission could help smooth labor tensions, and it's important to maintain and create good jobs in the region, without using a slow economy as an excuse to erode wage levels and people's financial base.