What can smaller communities learn from Pittsburgh’s successful revitalization?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has become a poster child of urban transformation and revitalization.

Did they do something different, or did they just do the usual things better. Can smaller communities learn from them?

Conventional economic development and revitalization strategies tend to center on luring residents, employers, and investors from outside their area.

But Pittsburgh used a “build on strength” approach, enhancing what was already working locally.

The city’s strategies had greater social impacts because they ultimately supported neighborhoods and businesses already in place. They renewed existing built, social, and natural assets, nurturing strengths and resources locally to stabilize their economy while enhancing social and economic capital.

Pittsburgh’s case teaches us that local economies and expertise can and should be leveraged to create resiliency. Rather than viewing a distressed city as a problem that can be fixed only through influxes of outside resources, small cities should learn to foster latent expertise, leverage local economies and support existing cross-sector collaborations where diverse partnerships can have greater community impacts.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock Photos.

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