Friday, January 07, 2011

"Modern-day version of Pittsburgh"

Neither hagiography nor its opposite, but note the opening sentence of this story: Low education levels holding Nevada’s economy back, official says. goes like this:
Nevada’s higher education levels are holding the region back from diversifying its economy and the city has become a modern-day version of Pittsburgh or Detroit, which once relied on one sector for its growth to its detriment, the director of a UNLV-based think tank said today. (emphasis added)

....  of what Pittsburgh was maybe??? I guess they kind of sneak in the past tense, but still they need the memo.  We have become iconic though, but we knew that already.  The region as Warhol... or is it vice versa?


I'll append a few more comments on this.  The whole Pittsburgh-Las Vegas dialectic has been fascinating since it started. We went for much of a decade without anyone ever even conceiving of talking about Pittsburgh and Las Vegas in the same breath when it comes to economic growth.  I have told this story before, but years ago I was at a conference of economic development folks and there was a fascinating discussion between folks in Las Vegas and Boston.  In Las Vegas the metric of economic development was hotel rooms. Made sense for them.  All of their economic activity keyed off of that and so folks who studied it knew pretty precisely how many regional jobs came from each new hotel room built. You once saw news on production from the steel industry here for the same reason.  More fascinating was a point that came up almost in passing, but is also key.  The Boston folks mentioned that there was not a school building constructed in the city since 1950.  The Las Vegas folks looked at each other and said they didn't have a school building built before 1950.  Ties to the story in the news of a local home demolished by accident.  I don't quite get why it is news since we know this happens fairly routinely around here.  Demolition order goes out and it is so hard to distinguish between the structures that are slated to come down from those that are not.  One reason is that we are Boston in that real estate metric.  Median age of homes in the City of Pittsburgh is 1939.  Boston is actually one of the few places in the country that has residential real estate as old as ours, but without our level of disinvestment by far.  Century old homes with only a fraction of the reinvestment they need to stay viable is the modal home in the city and many local municipalities.  So the stories are cute and there are some nuggets of wisdom in them, but this whole post G20 story has evolved to the point that now sometimes I talk to folks who like to say our circumstances have flipped with places like Las Vegas.  We have a century of investment to catch up on in things like infrastructure and housing and it is a long way to go.


Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

I honestly think this confirms that there is a "New Pittsburgh" and that people have heard about it. To the point where they assume others have heard about it as well. Maybe they have been talking amongst themselves!

I don't think they meant Pittsburgh is a relic of the stone age. Those stadiums both open at the south end.

Friday, January 07, 2011 5:30:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

"or Detroit" is hard to explain.

Friday, January 07, 2011 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

"Modern-day version of ..." speaks to the past of Pittsburgh, not the present.

Friday, January 07, 2011 6:28:00 PM  
Anonymous n'at said...

It's addition by subtraction, really; stagflation of population reveals itself as an irrational conclusion of a transposition in education.

Ha! my word verification is 'ation'.

Friday, January 07, 2011 7:57:00 PM  

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