The Contours of the Creative Economy

Donald Bonk interviews Nathan Martin, founder and CEO of Deeplocal, as part of the Pittsburgh Tomorrow podcast series. This interview was conducted before COVID-19. The transcript is abridged and edited for clarity. View the episode archive here. View Nathan Martin’s profile here. “What we are doing is producing and incubating these kinds of students that …

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Employers Add Jobs, but Payrolls Still Lag

The Pittsburgh region continued to add jobs in September, but overall employment numbers reveal an economy still hobbled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers in the seven county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 16,000 jobs in September, according to recently U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Still, the region has lost more than 90,000 jobs since …

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Counting Your Chickens During COVID

Buff Cochins: sold out. Barred Rocks: sold out. Light Brahmas: Sold out. Not a hen of my choice available this year from Murray McMurray, the hatchery in Iowa where I’ve ordered peeps for 30 years. This has never happened before, but due to coronavirus, suddenly everyone wants to be a chicken farmer. I had no …

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The Fall 2020 issue:

The Mysterious Party

A few years after the events described in last week’s post, something happened that, at first, seemed to have nothing to do with Gilbert de Botton. I was sitting at my desk idly sorting through my mail when I came across an impossibly elegant invitation to a “garden party” being hosted by a very well-known …

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Stubborn Addiction Crisis Grows More Worrisome

Southwestern Pennsylvania entered 2020 dealing with a stubborn public health crisis. Drug overdose deaths, despite a briefly encouraging period of decline, were rising again. Three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, raising the risk of addiction and relapse, those who work with addicted men and women say. The pandemic has kindled fear and uncertainty and …

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A Natural Escape Minutes from Downtown

Some of the deep ravines in the regional landscape provide secluded getaways for hiking and exploring, while not far from the urban center. One such special place is the 370-acre Toms Run Nature Reserve, eight miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh, off Route 65 just before the I-79 interchange. The stream that intersects the reserve, Toms …

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Reset Button

It was an obscure sign of the concern mounting over the threat the coronavirus pandemic poses to the future of boroughs, cities and townships. For the first time, “voluntary disincorporation,” the idea of allowing municipalities to shed their political boundaries, was on the agenda of the leadership arm of the Congress of Neighboring Communities, an …

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The Day Pohla Smith Voted

Daniel Webster, the statesman, lawyer and orator, was one of early America’s fiercest advocates for democracy, and he knew full well the importance of voting. He called it “a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform…” I had occasion to think of Webster that October 2012 morning when …

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Gilbert

In my entire life I’ve attended one cocktail party in Paris, and on that occasion—this being some years ago—I met a fellow named Gilbert de Botton. (Gilbert, by the way, is pronounced “zhil-BEAR.”) Our first meeting didn’t start out well. The fellow who introduced me to Gilbert did so by saying, “Greg, please meet M. …

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Officials Mull Expanding Civilian Police Watchdogs

Lawmakers in Harrisburg and southwestern Pennsylvania are considering proposals that could expand independent police oversight boards in response to widespread civil unrest ignited by the death of George Floyd, who died while being arrested by Minneapolis police. Last month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order creating the Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizen Advisory …

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COVID Hammers Consumer Confidence in Pittsburgh

The COVID-19 pandemic has beaten down southwestern Pennsylvania’s confidence in the local and national economies, employment and personal finances. Even with sentiment rising in the past two months, the outlook of most consumers remains bleak. Confidence has swung wildly since March as consumers for the first time learned what life is like during a global …

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COVID Decks Pittsburgh’s Pro Sports Teams

With stands empty and uncertainty over when and if fans will return, Pittsburgh’s professional sports franchises are bracing for heavy financial shortfalls. Thanks to lucrative media contracts, some pro sports leagues are less vulnerable than others. But overall, the loss of revenue from ticket and concessions sales at stadiums and arenas is a critical hit …

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Pittsburgh’s Future Keystones: East-West Connections for the New and the Native

Donald Bonk interviews Dennis Davin, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, as part of the Pittsburgh Tomorrow podcast series. This interview was conducted before COVID-19. The transcript is abridged and edited for clarity. View the episode archive here. View Dennis Davin’s profile here. “The issue and moonshot for me is to …

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Domestic Abuse Concerns Rise as the Pandemic Drags On

As the coronavirus gripped the world in the spring, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned of another “shadow” pandemic that could not be slowed by masks or hand washing. “We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners,” Guterres said on April 5. “Over the past …

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