Saturday, September 16, 2006

From my mouth...

This is what I've been talking about:

Pittsburgh hasn't been choked by smoke for decades.

But the local civic-minded, again as they have for, uh, decades, proclaim the region can grow once we disabuse folks of misperceptions that discourage businesses from locating here.

Chief among them: Pittsburgh is the "smoky city."

Was it the nonexistent smoke that has halved the population of Pittsburgh in the last 45 years? Just as the smoke disappeared, so did the jobs and the people. And this was all because, for 45 years, we didn't get the brand right?

Might there be other reasons the region has not grown like the rest of the country -- or do top companies bypass Pittsburgh because it is not properly "branded"?

Gery Steighner, who wrote this editorial in the Trib, ticked off some of those reasons, which include "a business-unfriendly tax-and-regulatory climate exists..that the region's central city -- Pittsburgh -- is in state receivership because of its captivity to labor unions..."

And while we're on the subject, can we dispense with the nonsense that it is Pittsburghers' own pessimism that drags the city down? Yes, Pittsburgh is a great place to live. But it is not without problems--real, substantive problems that have nothing to do with whether people do or do not cling to outdated stereotypes. All the sunny talk and public relations in the world aren't going to help us get back on track unless we also address the real conditions that hobble our growth.

Yes, we should love our city. But not blindly.


Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

the angry trib guy writes that pittsburgh's woes might stem from...

"a business-unfriendly tax-and-regulatory climate exists..that the region's central city -- Pittsburgh -- is in state receivership because of its captivity to labor unions..."

yet, he ironically states (and you omit) his words that this same business unfriendly climate is where "the amazingly profitiable" PNC Bank got what seems to be an extremely hospitable subsidiy to build its new downtown skyscraper...smack dab in that anti-business heart of Downtown Pittsburgh...

maybe the writer was being ironic. but how in the world does an amazingly profitable company get to be in that position in a hostile business environment?

If the city/region's tax laws are so damn overbearing...why doesn't PNC bolt to wilmington or charlotte?

And if the city/region is so beholden to labor unions, why aren't the city/county governments using those PNC type subsidies to train more working class kids to be steamfitters, electricians, plumbers and other craftspeople who end up in unions? better yet, what aren't union bosses insisting on more vo-tech training in schools.

i think the writer is merely howling at the moon...or dick scaife's reflection in his computer screen.

i'm not even sure that there's any correlation to the smoke and jobs disappearing together...or the clear skies leading to the demise of big steel, which died just about everywhere in the U.S. I don't think anyone calls Birmingham the pittsburgh of the south anymore.

as you former trib employee, you must surely be aware that certain editorials don't always pring from the writer's core beliefs ... except that belief in wanting to keep a job.

it that what you were talking about?

12:40 AM

Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

sorry about the typos in the previous post. it's pretty damn late.

12:42 AM

Blogger Dead Tree Eats Poop said...

Uhhh, at the risk of sounding dopey, PNC had its HQ in DE.

In fact, they're located, for incorporation purposes, in Wilmington.

Sure, it's just a maildrop POB, but it counts.

Perhaps the reason PNC's unofficial headquarters are in Pittsburgh is because of sweetheart tax deals for amazingly profitable thrifts?

It's probably the same reason that The PNC Financial Services Group, the holding company, is located for non-tax legal reasons in Pittsburgh.

It helps when a few of your more lucrative subsidiaries receive less scrutiny in PA, than, say, Elliot Spitzer's NY?

9:50 AM

Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

"Perhaps the reason PNC's unofficial headquarters are in Pittsburgh is because of sweetheart tax deals for amazingly profitable thrifts?"

okay. so technically PNC HQ is in Delaware. But the above response to my question points out the contradiction in the Trib writer's claim that the local tax environment is hostile to businesses.

11:38 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

The fact that the city gives select corporations and developers--like PNC and Millcraft--tax breaks and other favors is not proof that Pittsburgh has a friendly business climate, just like the fact that the state gives millions of dollars to American Eagle to move its HQ from Marshall to the South Side is proof that Pennsylvania has a friendly business climate.

The fact is that Pennsylvania has some of the highest business taxes in the nation--and to their credit, many civic leaders in Pittsburgh have lobbied in favor of lowering those taxes. But the city's taxes are high as well, driven in part by an oversized government and a failure to shrink services in response to the declining population. That hits residents, but businesses as well. I'm guessing, for example, that any large employer weighing a move Downtown would have to consider the city's high parking tax. (Same goes for the North Shore and SouthSide Works.)

From a regional perspective, the sheer number of municipalities, and thus the multitude of regulations, no doubt discourages some businesses from locating here. (Though the Trib is no fan of metropolitan government.)

I'd also add that while the city's insistence on retaining control over Downtown development benefits some businesses--those with political pull--it hurts others, who are shut out of any opportunities to contribute to, and benefit from, revitalization.

9:55 PM

Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

okay. point taken. maybe pnc gets the breaks so that it doesn't flee too.

12:06 AM


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