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Sunday
Mar162014

ReInstrailaizing US Cities

Pittsburgh among three U.S. cities recovered from recession

Pittsburgh, Dallas and Knoxville, Tenn., have bounced back, report says

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Pittsburgh is one of only three U.S. metropolitan areas to have recovered from the international recession, the Brookings Institution said Friday in a report that city and Allegheny County officials embraced as one more sign that the region is on the move.

According to the report, Metro GlobalMonitor 2012, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Knoxville, Tenn., were the only three U.S. regions to have bounced back from the recession.

The report said two metropolitan areas in Canada and three in Mexico also have recovered. The report classifies Canada as part of North America and Mexico as part of Latin America.

The findings were based on an analysis of employment numbers and other economic data.

“Pittsburgh has turned the corner and is the national example of how to grow jobs and innovate. … But there is still much more work to be done to ensure that Pittsburgh grows even more jobs and remains America’s ‘most livable’ city for years to come,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said a diversified economy helped the region weather the recession.

“We are in technology, and we are in finance. We are still heavily involved in steel and heavy manufacturing … life sciences, entertainment, the movie industry. Energy has been kind of the latest thing over the past couple of years,” Mr. Fitzgerald said in an interview. “I think the change in the form of government 12 years ago has had a lot to do with the success as well.”

After a referendum, the county in 2000 replaced a three-member board of commissioners, which had legislative and executive power, will a full-time executive and a part-time council that handles legislative matters. Mr. Fitzgerald, who took office in January, said the concentration of executive authority in one person has propelled the region forward and helped to foster cooperation among government, business, organized labor and the nonprofit community.

The Brookings Institution report is in line with what others have said about Pittsburgh’s recovery.

In January, a report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Council for the New American City listed Pittsburgh as one of 52 metropolitan areas that had recovered all of the jobs that were lost during the recession or were expected to do so by Dec. 31. In fact, researchers said they expected the region to gain jobs by year’s end.

Of the 300 metropolitan areas worldwide included in the Brookings report, 40 percent never experienced a recession or have recovered from it, said Emilia Istrate, associate fellow in Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program and lead author of the report.

Ms. Istrate said she found no “recipe” for economic recovery. An expanding business and financial services sector, buoyed by growth in the energy industry, helped Pittsburgh and Dallas, she said, while health care, education, government and construction helped Knoxville.

In an interview, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said health care institutions, the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have contributed economic stability to the region, while city officials “primed the pump” for recovery with strategic investments in streets and other infrastructure and tax-incentives for developers. In the last year, she said, a number of big retailers have moved to the area.

“More people are working,” she said. “More people have money to spend in the retail sector.”

Despite the downturn, she said, the city continued investing in quality-of-life improvements to ensure Knoxville remained “a place where business wants to be.”