A new effort to encourage regional collaboration focuses on the city of Pittsburgh and the 35 municipalities it borders. The Congress of Neighboring Communities, or Connect, met for the first time last week. They were brought together by David Miller, who directs the Innovation Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.
Miller says the grouping makes sense because Pittsburgh's neighbors depend on the city more than municipalities that are located further away. He also says the Connect group has 60 percent of Allegheny County's population and 90 percent of its jobs, so working together should give them a strong voice in leveraging state and federal resources.
Connect puts all municipalities on an equal playing field. Miller says municipalities outside the city have a strong record of intergovernmental cooperation, from councils of government to some shared services like police. But the city of Pittsburgh is still relatively new at this, and Miller says city representatives acknowledged they have a lot to learn from their neighbors.
A committee is now setting goals for Connect, and Miller says he hopes to hold an actual congress with all of the municipalities in April or May.