More than 400 business, community and education leaders turned out Tuesday night for the annual meeting of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. The mission of the organization is to work in collaboration with public and private sector partners to stimulate economic growth and enhance the quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania.
CEO Dennis Yablonsky briefed the members on the accomplishments during 2010 which is the 2nd year of the Conference's 3 year strategy...."We haven't dropped 1 of the 5 (focus areas) and added a new one. There hasn't been anything at that level. But particulars in what we try to accomplish ind the workplace area or the business climate area can be tweaked from year to year."
The current 3 year plan focuses on business climate, business investment, workplace development, transportation and infrastructure, and civic policy which Yablonsky says are all interrelated.
Yablonsky says the economy has impacted their current strategy..."the economy the last 2 years has been rough all over the country but it's a little better here. Pittsburgh has fared better than most places and the national average. Unemployment right now is below 8% in the Pittsburgh area where the national rate is 9.6%."
He says there is a sharper focus among Conference members than ever before on job creation...."because there are so many people out of work or have stopped looking for jobs. I think the emphasis on business investment has been very keen. The emphasis on continuing to improve the business tax and regulatory environment is very keen and we're working hard to affect as much of that as we can."
Yablonsky says he's happy the next governor, Tom Corbett, is from Pittsburgh because he "understands the Pittsburgh area and our needs." He says he's met with Corbett and believes there is "common ground" between the goals of the Conference and the new administration, and they want to work with Corbett on energy policy, sustaining core communities and pension reform.