Pittsburgh Technical Council

Is PGH a Gig City?

Is PGH a Gig City?

Article Published: February 10, 2016

By Audrey Russo, PTC President and CEO

Audrey PicBack in 2008, we understood that the intersection of technology and art was materially shaping the way our members were developing their products and services. We saw that the silos of our community assets, as we approached attraction of talent amongst the skills required of the highly skilled, were possibly one of the critical variables stalling our growth.

At the Pittsburgh Technology Council, we initiated mash ups of people and companies who identified as creators, marketers, artists, manufacturers, engineers, graphic and product designers and so much more. While we knew that the convergence of this work would forge meaningful relationships, we did not anticipate the rapid massive shift in what we define as work, a career and a profession.

Let’s suspend our thinking for a moment about jobs, careers and work. Begin to think about what has changed in the tools we each use in our daily lives to access entertainment, hobbies, acquisition of new skills and just plain fun, however defined. Add to that the mega audiences, not just their valuations, of the sharing economy (Uber, AirBnb, Lending Club, Kickstarter, TaskRabbit, DogVacay, Elance, et al). The world of work has already been altered. We are participating in the metamorphosis of work.

Adoption of these new tools has shifted economies within months. Democratization of information and social media ripple the effects of global communication. Plotting the growth of an economy is no longer a long view. Seismic shifts in technology have changed the way we craft our lives.

In 2014, our Creative Industries Network—thanks to the visionary support of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University—set out to discover the impact of the creative work upon the regional economy. The study focused on the seven key creative sectors in Pittsburgh’s eight-county region: design, communications, entertainment, fine art, data science, software/hardware and related creative industry support services. We saw evidence of growth at four times the national level for these skills with the biggest surge in our global corporations.

Outsourcing for what was once specialty, non-core competencies, are now required skills. Automation necessitates design thinking to ensure customer engagement. No longer are these skills an option for business growth. However, the demand outpaces the needs.

In 2015, we wanted to know more about people who possess these skills, including where they live and how they work, particularly given the changes in the notion of the shared economy.

Now, in 2016, the PTC and its partners, with the continued support of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, are releasing the follow-up study, mapping our region’s rich tapestry of creative assets. The findings highlight:

1. The creative hotbeds in the Pittsburgh region: where people work
    and where they live.

2. A detailed map of existing regional creative assets and
    entrepreneurial resources.

3. Data on the region’s surprisingly robust, freelance or “gig” economy.

Why does all this matter? Becoming a destination as a place to live, and where work, not only exists in established companies, but in places where people want to live not (just) work.  Amenities, access, living options, safety, working options, community personas, education, recreation, diversity and perceived vitality are the preeminent variables in building the new world cities of today, not tomorrow.

We are thrilled to be a part of sparking these important strategies as we release our findings. We look to forge new partnerships to ensure Pittsburgh can harness the assets we have and cultivate the new ones to unleash the next, imminent era of collisions that make the secrets of Pittsburgh even more remarkable.

Get Connected:

New Creative Industries Programs Launching This Spring

CREATE Pittsburgh: Creative Industries Community Hub


CREATE PITTSBURGH is a community space for creative industry resources. Serving as a hub to connect regional creatives with the resources they need to succeed, this inventory is comprised of service providers, spaces and support services to help artists and entrepreneurs succeed.

CO-CREATE: Creative Industries Acceleration Program

Launching this spring, CO-CREATE, Pittsburgh’s only creative industries-specific accelerator program will pilot a 2016-17 program to support a select group of regional artists and entrepreneurs with dedicated support services, workspace, connectivity and a $1,000 creators stipend. Applications for the program will open in early spring.

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