Perhaps Pittsburgh is the city of dreams
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The right person with the right dream could win $100,000 if he or she is willing to pick up and move to Pittsburgh. It's part of a new contest that has the support of the city and the county, which wouldn't mind inspiring some inspired adults 45 and older to move in.
But the question must be asked: Is the notion that a contest, with a single winner, might bring masses of new people to Pittsburgh a pipe dream in itself?
"The real hope is that it starts to get people interested in looking at Pittsburgh as a destination whether they win the contest or not," said Shawn Bannon, spokesperson for Experienced Dreamers LLC.
The Experienced Dreamers Contest -- an initiative managed by Leadership Pittsburgh in conjunction with the city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and several leaders of the local foundation community -- was created to inspire adults 45 and older to consider Western Pennsylvania as a potential site for relocation.
The contest, said Mr. Bannon, is only a single part of the initiative to get the word out about the region's benefits.
But it is an interesting part. Qualifying adults are invited to submit the stories of their dreams at www.experienceddreamers.org until Dec. 16 to be judged by Pittsburgh residents.
The winning contestant will receive $100,000 -- $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in the form of a charitable trust -- if they are willing to relocate to Pittsburgh and start the process toward achieving their dream before the end of 2012 to claim the prize. The contest winner will be announced in April.
Buhl Foundation President Frederick Thieman said the organization took part in developing the initiative because of a 2009 report by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation that found the region could see an economic impact of more than $2.5 billion by attracting 1,250 new residents 45 and older in the next 20 years.
He said the most important aspect of the contest is its ability to attract people who might already be considering relocation but hadn't considered Pittsburgh as an option.
"The winner will likely be an interesting and dynamic person, but this is more about people who catch wind of the contest and take a look at Pittsburgh if only out of curiosity," he said.
Mr. Bannon said the initiative will use its website and link to social networking sites run by companies affiliated with Pittsburgh tourism to get word of the contest out to the nation.
The Experienced Dreamers site is also a one-stop resource for news stories, links to local civic and social organizations and personal testimonies from people who recently moved to the area.
Mr. Thieman cited a statistic claiming that 5 percent of baby boomers plan to relocate, and he said many choose small college towns for safety, health care access, arts and culture, low cost of living and a vibrant young population.
He said the Pittsburgh region can sell those qualities to baby boomers eager to retire in cities outside of the Sun Belt.
"I believe if people could find [those qualities] in an urban setting they would find that attractive, and I don't think there's another city in the country that can offer those amenities like Pittsburgh," he said.
Regardless of what happens once the winner is chosen, Mr. Thieman said the region will reap the benefits of highlighting its assets to people who remain passionate about life goals.
"I think the contest is defined not as much by the winner but by the nature and caliber of people inspired to apply," he said.
First Published October 21, 2011 12:21 am