May 18, 2017

Can Pittsburgh be a model for the Rust Belt’s second act?

The Renewal Series stopped in Steel City to discuss the region's potential as a leader in urban renewal

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto speaks with The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein during a discussion on the city's renewal efforts, part of The Renewal Series, at Alloy 26 in Pittsburgh. Photo by Mark Simpson

In 1979, in the midst of Pittsburgh’s monumental decline as a Rust Belt power, one of the city’s most venerable institutions started a program that would become a model for the nation. Carnegie Mellon University founded the country’s first robotics program, and less than a decade later, it launched the first-ever Ph.D. program in the field.

Today, more than 30 years after Pittsburgh’s economy hit “rock bottom” as the steel industry that powered the region for the first three-quarters of the century crumbled, the city is still innovating. Pittsburgh is reinventing itself as a hub for technological innovation, and companies like Uber and Ford are recognizing that and making multi-million to billion-dollar investments in the city. “We have become the center of artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Wednesday.

The mayor joined The Atlantic Senior Editor Ron Brownstein at Pittsburgh’s Alloy26 for a discussion on the city’s remarkable transformation and the challenges that remain, part of The Atlantic‘s Renewal Series, presented by Atlantic Live and underwritten by Allstate. (The Renewal Project is made possible by Allstate.)

After speaking with the mayor, Brownstein then hosted a panel with local leaders: Presley Gillespie, president of Neighborhood Allies; Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust; Andrew Moore, Dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University; and Stefani Pashman, CEO of Partner4Work.

Watch a video of the discussions on Atlantic Live’s Facebook page, and read a recap of the event below:

Margaret Myers and Hillary Beulah

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.

Hillary Beulah is the Social Media & Audience Growth Editor for The Renewal Project.