Pittsburgh continues to be on international radar long after G-20
from Pittsburgh Business Times - by Bill Flanagan \
Date: Friday, June 10, 2011
Our region has been enjoying a spring in the global spotlight. Although it's not been as dramatic as the Group of 20 Summit in 2009, the afterglow of that event is still attracting international delegations and U.S. government officials to our region.
Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard made a rare domestic stop in Pittsburgh in March, meeting with a number of regional business leaders spanning a spectrum of industries that included manufacturing, legal services, banking/finance and energy. She called Pittsburgh a "natural place" to get a sense of how the U.S. economy is doing, especially given the growing diversity of the industries here. The business leaders shared their perspectives on export policy and the administration's National Exports Initiative.
Global business is big business for our region and for the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, international trade supported 1.6 million jobs in Pennsylvania in 2008, or 21.5 percent of total jobs, up from 10 percent in the early 1990s. And more than 260,000 people in Pennsylvania were employed by companies that were at least 50 percent foreign-owned. Pennsylvania exported $34.8 billion in merchandise to foreign markets in 2010.
Late last week, former U.S. Rep. Mark Green, who serves as senior director of the USGLC, came to Pittsburgh to make the case for federal investment in international affairs at a forum hosted by the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and to announce the establishment of a USGLC Pennsylvania Advisory Committee.
We've drawn international visits, too.
In May, the Allegheny Conference hosted a delegation from the Institute of Directors Nigeria that had come to Pittsburgh to learn about economic transformation and civic leadership. Robert Agbede hosted the delegation. He is president & CEO of Chester one of the largest minority-owned engineering firms in the country.
The IoD works to empower directors to contribute significantly to the welfare of the companies they run and to national development. The 15-member group from Nigeria seemed to be intrigued by our region's history of public-private partnership. E. Chike Nwanze, president of IoD Nigeria and vice chairman of Icon Stock Brokers, said they'd been "shown a model" that could help to unlock the potential of the Nigerian economy, which is largely based on oil exports.
Our region's growing expertise in renewable energy, especially in the wind supply chain, brought the Chinese Wind Energy Association and their host, Andrew Chen of USFOR Energy LLC, to Pittsburgh Green Drinks. Leading Chinese wind equipment manufacturers, utilities, research institutes and universities spent two days in Pittsburgh learning about the U.S. wind energy industry. China is counting on wind energy to help meet its goal of 15 percent of total energy from renewables by 2020.
These delegations arrived on the heels of visits by two ambassadors, spearheaded by the World Affairs Council of PittsburghWorld Affairs Council of which has been working with Allegheny County, the city of Pittsburgh, local universities and others to attract ambassadors from the G-20 countries who visited our region in September 2009.
In March, the Honorable Han Duk-Soo, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United States, discussed free trade and opportunities in U.S.-Korea Relations during a forum sponsored by the Korea and hosted by the World Affairs Council. A month later, Ambassador of India Meera Shankar made a two-day visit to Pittsburgh.
A robust Indian community has been growing in our region since the 1970s. Many Indian natives — or individuals of Indian ancestry — have made significant contributions to Pittsburgh's globally recognized economic transformation, and they continue to drive ongoing transformation in the region across industries including information technology, energy, biotech, health care and life sciences, arts and culture, and more.
There's a payoff in terms of economic development. Six Indian-owned firms are operating in the Pittsburgh region, including global energy giant Reliance Industries Ltd. — India's largest company by market value — which has acquired stakes in the fast-growing Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.
Pittsburgh-based employers, in turn, have reached out to India with exports and investment. India has become the 15th-largest importer of Pennsylvania goods in the world, buying $522.4 million in products and services in 2010 — a 19 percent increase from 2009. Twenty-eight local companies have operations in India, with 42 facilities in various Indian cities.
Looking ahead to next year, Pittsburgh has been selected as the sole U.S. city under consideration to host "One Young World," an international youth summit, in 2012. The event provides young leaders ages 21 to 28 the opportunity to address and debate the same high-profile, global issues tackled by world leaders.
Euro RSCG Worldwide, the World Affairs Council of PittsburghWorld Affairs Council of PittsburghLatest from The Business JournalsPittsburgh a contender to host One Young WorldSurma: U.S. manufacturing in crisisInternational trivia contest aims to bring diverse work forceFollow this company and VisitPittsburgh are organizing a new "One Young World Pittsburgh Partnership" to seek to bring the event to our region. If it happens, it would take place the same year that thousands of the globe's brightest young minds in science and engineering will convene here for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the nation's black engineers come to Pittsburgh for their national convention.
Talk about an opportunity to showcase our region to the globe's best and brightest.