A Call to Action, William Generett, Inclusive Innovation, Urban Innovation 21The Pittsburgh region is a national model for the way that a region can transform its economy.  During the 1980s, Pittsburgh lost 100,000 jobs.  Today, our region’s economy has successfully transitioned from  a manufacturing based economy to one that is diversified and based on education, health care, energy, advance manufacturing and technology.  During the recent great recession our region’s unemployment rate was below the national  average.   This historic transformation did not occur by happenstance.  It occurred because a diverse set of public and private partners came together, acknowledged the problem and diligently worked together for decades to make that change occur.

All communities and populations are not connected to this new economy economic transformation.  Many communities that were vibrant and connected during the glory days of steels are shells of themselves.  The number of family sustaining jobs has significantly decreased since the glory days and many of those “good” jobs have not returned.  The saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats” does not hold true for the Pittsburgh region’s economic transformation.  Pittsburgh’s rising economic tide has lifted some boats but left others behind.

In 10 years, the Pittsburgh region can become a national model for “Inclusive Innovation”.   Inclusive innovation is an economic development approach pioneered outside of the US.  Inclusive innovation provides practical solutions, new business models and innovative processes to create a more inclusive economy that benefits all in society.   It includes cutting edge partnerships and novel, entrepreneurship, workforce development, placed based and educational strategies.

It is an exciting time to be in Pittsburgh.  Today Pittsburgh stakeholders are committed and aligned to make the Pittsburgh’s region one known for inclusive economic prosperity. Government, philanthropy, corporations, community based nonprofits and technology based economic development organizations understand the scale of the problem and are committed to doing the work necessary to make Pittsburgh an example of inclusive innovation.

Since 2007, the Urban Innovation21 public private partnership implemented a set of inclusive innovation strategies to connect some of Pittsburgh poorest communities, to the prosperity created in neighboring communities.  From that experience, successes and failures, many  lessons have been learned.

The purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the inclusive innovation strategies in and outside of Pittsburgh that are working.

By William Generett, CEO of Urban Innovation 21