What the Mayor’s China Trip Means

If hosting the G-20 conference last fall was to tell the world Pittsburgh had changed-the spokesman for the region’s premier economic development agency said at the time that it was "an opportunity to dispel the smoky-city image once and for all"-then why did the Mayor of Pittsburgh and economic development officials have to travel to China to tell them that Pittsburgh is no longer a "smoky city"?

Sure, the Mayor was extended a personal invitation and should not pass up the opportunity to "sell" Pittsburgh. Apparently from press reports he is the only elected official to go on the trip.

So should the junket bear fruit in the way of development opportunities, we’re sure the Mayor will be first to celebrate. That would even be true if a Chinese company decided to locate anywhere in western Pennsylvania, say, in the airport corridor, Cranberry, or Westmoreland County, right? Sure, the City would not get property taxes from a development (but neither would any other community if there was a subsidy or abatement involved) or wage or payroll taxes, but there would be spin-off benefits for the City somewhere. And what exactly would be built? Manufacturing is doubtful, so perhaps a distribution facility for imports. Or maybe there could be a closer look at some of the other assets the City has at its disposal.