Will Pittsburgh, with its historical role in two American industrial revolutions, remain a leader in revitalization? Or will it be have to carry the extra burden of uncompetitive national policy?
The first revolution, perhaps a product of geographical chance, made the city and the nation a manufacturing powerhouse. The second, resulting from a tremendous act of will by the people, remade Pittsburgh into a great research and development (R&D) center that could help lead us out of the current recession. These hardworking Americans are going to need smart policy from Washington if their technology revolution, and efforts to emulate it across the country, are to continue.
For many years now, there has been too much talk inside the beltway about pro-innovation economic policies and too little action. Case in point: Congress has yet to take action to extend the R&D tax credit, due to expire at the end of 2009, that is so vital to the U.S. keeping its innovation edge and helping other cities do what Pittsburgh accomplished – achieve economic revitalization.
R&D creates new industries and products, new solutions to our toughest challenges and many new jobs. In Pittsburgh, R&D and testing labs account for the second highest category of high-tech employment, generating thousands of good, high-paying jobs, according to TechAmerica’s latest Cybercities research. Nationwide, at least 70 percent of R&D investments are spent directly on employment.