Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was one of nine speakers from around the U.S. addressing the White House Forum on Urban Innovation today. He was asked to discuss the city’s successes in job creation, economic improvement, and education, most specifically the Pittsburgh Promise.
“While the entire story was well-received I think the focus and the majority of the questions I was asked was about the Promise, how we did it, how we started it, how we funded it, how it’s working, and the like, and there seemed to be a lot of interest in that program,” said Ravenstahl.
He added, the Mayor of Hartford Connecticut said that city is implementing a program similar to the Pittsburgh Promise. Ravenstahl also discussed the city’s employment landscape, and said the positive outlook is due, in part, to a diverse economy.
“From predominately steel and manufacturing decades ago to an economy that now embraces manufacturing still but also has 'eds and meds,' high tech, bio tech, life sciences, financial services, that mix and diversification is why Pittsburgh has done better than most,” he said.
Representatives from the White House, the U.S Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Treasury, along with the Small Business Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency were in attendance. And, the mayor said, he got a chance to learn about what some other areas are doing.
“In Houston with embracing economic development in distressed neighborhoods, San Diego, there was a representative not of the city, but a homeless organization that presented, so I think really what was designed by the White House was kind of a best practices, from their perspective, of what other cities are doing,” said Ravenstahl.
He added, “we are clearly on the White House’s radar screen and they clearly are looking to us as a model to really hold up as a city that’s done good things.” But he said those good works wouldn’t be possible without the help of the federal government.