More than 100 business, government, and nonprofit leaders from the Atlanta region will head to the Pittsburgh region on May 15-17 for the 2019 LINK™ trip, coordinated by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Consistently named a top livable city by The Economist magazine, Pittsburgh is a dynamic, fascinating region that offers plenty of insights for the LINK delegation in areas ranging from technological innovation, to cultural cultivation, to community partnerships.
As a feature of this year’s trip, LINK leaders will participate in one of five in-depth excursions that have been carefully curated to highlight innovative thinking and approaches at work in Pittsburgh, which have clear connections to challenges facing metro Atlanta. Following these tours, each group will take what they’ve learned and work toward fostering specific, related change efforts in metro Atlanta.
“Over the years, LINK has sparked many great ideas and relationships that are shaping our region today,” said Doug Hooker, ARC Executive Director. “The changes we’re making to LINK will help sharpen the program’s focus and create even more fertile ground for generating great ideas that will help move our region forward.”
Here are five regional issues that the LINK delegation will explore in Pittsburgh:
Driving Innovation: The City/University Partnership
Today, the Pittsburgh region’s economy is far more diversified than it was in its former Steel City days – no one industry represents more than 25% of the region’s total GDP. The Pittsburgh region has a $147.4 billion economy, the 25th largest in the U.S., with an average growth of 3.6% annually since 2012.
Some degree of this success can be credited to the partnerships the city has with local universities and private firms. The city is an urban laboratory and a leader in research, development, and deployment of cutting-edge technology, thanks in part to groundbreaking partnerships with institutions like Carnegie Mellon University — the birthplace of autonomous vehicles — as well as the University of Pittsburgh and cutting-edge tech firms. Resulting innovations are changing the ways we live — from 5G technology, to autonomous vehicles and machine learning.
Developing a Region that’s Equitable for All
In 2014, the city of Pittsburgh and the Heinz Endowments developed an organizing framework to guide new and existing initiatives related to social, economic, and environmental issues, placing innovation and inclusion at the forefront. This framework has led to the creation of a set of social equity performance measures which are now being used to inform and guide the development of Pittsburgh’s last major remaining brownfield site. It’s a story of intentional, collaborative neighborhood revitalization around a frame of equitable outcomes.
Nurturing an Exceptional Cultural District
Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District is the heart of the region’s arts and cultural scene and stands out as one of the nation’s most notable cultural districts in terms of size and composition, demonstrating the impact of long-term targeted investment in cultural resources aimed at transforming a specific geographic area.
Building Welcoming Communities through Interfaith Relationships
Following the tragic 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the broader Pittsburgh community exhibited a coming together that represented the shared values that define Pittsburgh as a unique place, while inspiring many around the world. Area faith leaders and religious organizations have formed vital relationships that are helping to strengthen a community’s roots and sustain the rights of all people to worship without fear.
Preserving Cultural Legacy and Fighting for the Soul of a Community
The Hill District is a collection of African American neighborhoods on the eastern edge of downtown Pittsburgh. Impacted in negative ways by urban renewal policies in the mid-20th century, the Hill is known for the cultural richness and vitality of African American writers, theater and music — playwright August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle was written and set in the Hill. LINK leaders will learn about the trajectory of a historic community in the crosshairs of redevelopment, and the partnerships that are paving the way for a brighter future.
LINK, which began in 1997, has been responsible for the development of several important regional efforts: The Metro Atlanta Mayors Association was created following a visit to Chicago in 2002; the Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion poll began after the Houston trip in 2013; and the Atlanta Regional Public Art Program was inspired by a visit to Philadelphia in 2014.
The LINK program is organized with support from ARC’s Strategic Partners:
Presenting Sponsors HNTB; North Fulton Community District; Partnership Gwinnett
ARC Annual Partners Georgia Power; Uber; Delta
Premier Sponsors Douglas County Economic Development Authority; Metro Atlanta Chamber; Perimeter Community Improvement Districts
Champion Sponsors ACEC Georgia; Atlanta Aerotropolis CIDs; Arcadis; AXIS Infrastructure; Council for Quality Growth; Croy Engineering; Henry County Development Authority; Indian Hills Country Club; Kaiser Permanente; Kimley Horn; McGuire Woods Consulting; Midtown Alliance; Synovus; The Woodruff Arts Center; Town Center Community Improvement District
ARC’s Strategic Partners are committed to fostering collaborative regional approaches that improve quality of life in metro Atlanta. Their support elevates ARC leadership programs, research and events throughout the year. Learn more