This is an incredibly important time for the future of education in Pittsburgh. There is significant and building community concern about the ability of Pittsburgh Public Schools to operate effectively with a serious shortfall of public funding. The two entities need to regularly discuss neighborhood and community issues, public safety, school closings, and related issues of shared concerns between the District and the City. Great schools cannot exist without a great city, and great cities cannot exist without great schools. It is critical that both entities work to increase each others’ knowledge base and cooperation.
Community Growth and Development:
District 8 was the only Council district to grow in population over the past 10 years. The reason for this incredible population growth is our desirable residential neighborhoods, thriving business districts, and proximity to some of the City’s most important institutions. In addition to population growth, we have seen more than $2 billion in direct investment. To ensure that we balance growth and neighborhood quality we must develop strong community plans and forge relationships of trust between developers and neighborhood organizations. We must work collaboratively to allow large institutions to grow while protecting the strong, vibrant residential neighborhoods that surround them, develop clear and regular lines of communication between institutions, businesses, residents, and City government, and; focus on triple-bottom-line development strategies that enhance people, profits, and the environment. It’s also critical to update City practices and procedures, and eliminate the red tape that often prevents ease of permitting through the Bureau of Building Inspection.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
For all of the incredible technological resources Pittsburgh has to offer, city government should do more to help young entrepreneurs get their ideas, and their businesses, off of the ground. The City should become a one-stop shop that will guide entrepreneurs toward local, state, and federal financing and tax abatement programs, and connect them with local resources.
We should create a small-business incubator space offering low rents and technical assistance to entrepreneurs who need a foundation on which to build. In addition to supporting the next generation of Pittsburgh business owners, it will concentrate knowledge in clusters throughout the East End, fostering a collaborative business environment that will help spawn even more great ideas and innovations. This will enhance neighborhood quality, bring new residents into the City limits, and broaden our tax base.
Pittsburgh needs to create a supportive environment for new businesses in the technology sector, and just as importantly—we need to start utilizing the technology that innovative members of our own region have developed, much of which has already been adopted across the globe. We have the technological resources to be one of the leading cities in the use of 21st century technology. The City needs to modernize operations and catch up to the private sector.
Pittsburgh needs to create a supportive environment for new businesses in the technology sector, and we need to start utilizing locally developed technology. We should:
Provide all City employees with mobile email access to create a more connected and responsive government;
Allow developers and private citizens to apply for permits and submit building plans online and pay using a credit/debit card;
Equip all City snowplows with GPS technology;
Develop and implement a high-tech, professional pavement management system to ensure that decisions are made based on need, not politics.
Let's work together to make District 8 and the entire city the very best it can be.
-Councilman Dan Gilman
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