Pittsburgh has a big story to tell but lately hasn’t been able to attract a big audience of the sort that comes by hosting a conference in the national spotlight.
Political conventions? The 2016 Republican national convention was awarded to Cleveland, and Pittsburgh showed only lukewarm interest in hosting the Democratic convention before shifting its support toward Philadelphia’s bid. How about the summer Olympics in 2024? Pittsburgh was invited to submit a proposal but that hope drowned in a naysayers’ chorus.
Thanks to Mayor Bill Peduto, city council and VisitPittsburgh, however, the city has attracted a headline-generating conference that will bring with it the perfect audience to propagate Pittsburgh’s tale of renewal. Last week the National League of Cities, at its meeting in St. Paul, Minn., accepted Pittsburgh’s bid to host the organization’s 2016 Congress and Cities and Exposition on Nov. 16-19 of that year. Some 3,500 delegates are expected to come.
The league describes itself as a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages representing more than 218 million Americans. This ideal audience will be coming at an ideal time — 2016 is the 200th anniversary of the city’s incorporation.
While this won’t be a political convention, it is the next best thing — and Pittsburgh’s coup in securing its first meeting of the organization further vindicates Mayor Peduto’s decision to seek league membership shortly after coming into office.