The Sunday, September 28, 2008 issue of the Post-Gazette featured a fascinating interview with Barry Balmat, outoing director of Rand Corporation’s Pittsburgh office. Balmat’s remarks on the greater Pittsburgh region, its leaders, and residents was overwhelmingly favorable. However, he seasoned his remarks with observations that decision-makers and their constituencies should take to heart if we are to continue to build a strong and viable regional economy.
“There are a couple of things that have progressed but continue to progress a little more rapidly. One is a general attitude — self-image toward Pittsburgh by Pittsburghers. When Rand came here, rather than saying, ‘Well of course Rand would consider Pittsburgh. What took you so long?’ the attitude was, ‘Well, gee, why are you here?’ If we’d gone to Austin, Texas, it would have been, ‘Of course you came to Austin. What took you so long?’
“Pittsburgh is schizophrenic. To some degree Pittsburghers are very proud of Pittsburgh but yet there’s kind of an insecurity.
“Also, technology and the knowledge-based econony are going to be key to the growth of Pittsburgh and competing with other cities around the country and overseas. Pittsburgh’s still adapting to that kind of industry compared to the old, industrial firms where it was big managment from the top down as opposed to the technology world where it’s a very nimble, open, collaborative, flexible approach to business.
“When you experience Pittsburgh versus a place like Silicon Valley, [Pittsburgh] people hold their cards close to the vest. They’re not quick to say, ‘Let’s partner and do this together.'”