Earlier today I found myself wondering aloud on Twitter, “Why the hell is the G20 being held in Pittsburgh?” Not to slight the fine Western Pennsylvania town, but global economic summits and Pittsburgh don’t really seem to go together. Usually these sort of things take place in places like New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. Certainly not in a traditionally industrial city like Pittsburgh, which have never ever hosted a Super Bowl or a Final Four. So I fired off an email to an important Pittsburgh person and it turns out that the whole thing was orchestrated by the White House because Obama is a big fan of the city.
I contacted Jennifer Vacek, the National Sales Director for VisitPittsburgh.com, the city’s chief tourism wing, by email and posed the following question: “How the hell did Pittsburgh land the G20?” Here’s how she said the whole thing came to be:
Back in May, I received a phone call that a White House Representative was interested in Pittsburgh as a potential host for an International Leadership Meeting. That call came on a Thursday, they wanted to meet the next day.
My initial reaction was, “well, at least that gets me out of the office on a Friday….what in the world can THIS be about….blah, blah, blah”. After some more research, we figured out it was the G20.
Flash forward to the next morning. I’m at the convention center (DLCC), along with their personnel, and the reps from the Mayor’s office and the County Exec’s Office. In walk four WH Staff Members, flanked by five Secret Service members.
They explain what the Meeting was….and by George, it was the G20. The DLCC had 24 hours to come up with a proposal (they ARE paying for rental, etc), and I had the weekend to come up with 3500 hotel rooms in Pittsburgh. But I wasn’t permitted to say what they were for….good times.
Then the announcement came two weeks later, and I’ve been living, breathing, etc. G20.
Why Pittsburgh???? Why not???!! But seriously, Obama not only loves Pittsburgh….but believes Pittsburgh is a great example of a region that has successfully weathered a severe economic downturn. After losing our major industry, the steel industry, we have transformed into a thriving green, education, technology center. Pittsburgh has not seen the unemployment rates or foreclosures as other areas of the country have seen.
We are more than a little old town once known for our Steel Industry. We are something to take notice.
Have you ever been?
Well I have to say that I’ve never been to Pittsburgh Jennifer, but I’m sure that I will someday and I want you to be my tour guide when I do. And oh, one last thing…I promise not to tell anyone about your massive crush on Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reed, umkay!