As seen onFavicon for

Pittsburgh's p4 : People, Planet, Place, Performance, and the future of the Steel City

Last week Pittsburgh launched its p4: People, Planet, Place, and Performance, an initiative to direct the region's growing economy toward an equitable and sustainable future. Brookings VP Bruce Katz drew several lessons from his visit:


  1. As the Great Recession taught us, not all economic growth is good growth. Like other older industrial cities, Pittsburgh must transition to an economy fueled by innovation, powered by skilled workers and driven by global engagement. This requires a fundamental shift in economic development; the pre-recession consumption and real-estate obsessed model simply doesn't work. That's why Pittsburgh is committed to being on the vanguard of sustainable growth and development.
  2. Grant Oliphant of the Heinz Endowment said: "Twenty years ago the conversation in Pittsburgh was how do we get the engine going again, 10 years ago the conversation in Pittsburgh was how do we get the engine going again. All of the sudden the engine's humming and the question is which way do we want to go."
  3. p4 Pittsburgh - People, Planet, Place and Performance
  4. Pittsburgh's p4 isn't just about reviving an individual city. It's about having cities and metros drive the solutions to the world's most pressing problems—poverty, income inequality, environmental sustainability, social mobility, and more.
  5. As Bruce says, "Fundamentally, system change happens, whether it's in education, whether it's in real estate development, through individual transactions." Cities are where these transactions happen:
  6. In many ways Pittsburgh is a city built for the 21st century economy. Its innovative institutional assets—Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, the medical center—are concentrated in the downtown and the Oakland neighborhood. These core areas have the assets innovative businesses and their workers prize: proximity, density, amenities, and authenticity.
  7. The Steel City has the right raw materials. If it can establish itself as a "go-to center" for sustainable development and energy innovation, it can create a job market oriented to all workers and their families:
  8. To be competitive, a city must be inclusive; it must, as Angela Blackwell puts it, "bake in equity":
  9. Cities are networks of public, private and civic leaders, not just formal governments. This means engaging a city's population is the best tool for effective government and dynamic economies:
  10. What does all of this look like on the ground? Here's one example: