Pittsburgh a national conference finalist

League of Cities could draw 5,000

Pittsburgh is a vote away from becoming the 2016 venue for a conference that could bring as many as 5,000 representatives from municipalities across the United States.

City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday, with Mayor Bill Peduto backing it, that invites the National League of Cities, to Pittsburgh. The network, which advocates for and provides a variety of resources to its 19,000 member municipalities, is expected to conduct its business and policy conference, known as the Congress of Cities and Exposition, here in mid-November, 2016.

“[Mr. Peduto has] been traveling the country and the world telling Pittsburgh’s story,” said the mayor’s spokesman, Tim McNulty. “He’s interested in having others come here to see it first-hand. … He thinks it would be an excellent showcase for the city.”

The move comes about a month after the city dropped its bid to play host to the 2016 Democratic National Convention because of cost concerns.

City Councilman Dan Gilman, who sponsored the council resolution, a necessary step in the application process, said Mr. Peduto pushed to rejoin the League of Cities this year after years of lapsed membership.

He noted that the event would give the city the chance to show “our success story to the whole country” on the 200th anniversary of Pittsburgh’s incorporation as a city in 1816.

Janice Pauline, director of conferences and meetings for the League of Cities, said Pittsburgh’‍s bid, assembled with the help of VisitPittsburgh, Allegheny County’s nonprofit tourism and convention promotion agency, is expected to be approved at the league’‍s board of directors meeting in two weeks.

She said the league’s staff reviews potential host cities and submits only one to the board.

“We don’‍t have them decide between two cities. That’s not going to be good for anybody,” Mrs. Pauline said.

She said organizers look for new locations each year and added that the 90-year-old league has never had its conference in Pittsburgh. However, the city’s reinvention after the collapse of the steel industry also swayed the organization, and Mrs. Pauline said she thought the ups and downs Pittsburgh has weathered could be instructive.

“We’re really impressed with what the city has been doing over the past few years,” she said.

Last year’‍s conference in Seattle drew about 3,500 participants and generated about $8 million in economic impact, Mrs. Pauline said, though she could not provide a breakdown of those numbers. The conference includes educational workshops and leadership programs for municipal officials as well as the league’s governance meetings and an exposition for vendors looking to land municipal business.

Don’‍t expect them to sit in their hotel rooms.

“Our members are city officials; they go out,” she said. “They want to walk around the city and see what’‍s going on.”

Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com, 412-263-3909 or on Twitter: @rczullo. First Published July 8, 2014 12:00 AM

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