Corbett steps in right direction with tech companies

Credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor Credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor

Governor Tom Corbett traveled to sunny California last week — not for vacation, but to talk tech.

The focus of his visit was to promote Pennsylvania as an ideal breeding ground for startup companies and tech firms. The presentation at Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley campus included several Carnegie Mellon administrators and seven representatives of Carnegie Mellon-initiated startups.

Corbett being proactive and reaching out to tech companies — giant corporations and young startups alike — is a great leap forward for Pittsburgh and the state as a whole.

It’s no secret that our state’s economy is in crisis mode; Corbett’s 2012-13 budget cut funding to the University of Pittsburgh by 30 percent, and the Port Authority had to reduce its services by 15 percent in March of last year with a further cut of 35 percent planned for September. Similarly, job availability seems to be stagnant, and the unemployment percentage has been stuck at 7.5 percent since January. It’s also no secret that Pittsburgh leaders like Mayor Luke Ravenstahl have been trying to entice graduating students to stay in the region for years.

What could bring youth, money, and jobs to an area in one swoop? Startup companies — and Corbett understands this. Marketing his state in this way is attractive to outside companies looking for a place to develop their businesses. Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania need startup companies for the aforementioned reasons, but it’s also true that these companies need this region.

Pittsburgh is similar to what the West was during the Gold Rush — people knew there were riches to be had, but no one had utilized the region yet.

Established in 2002, Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley campus has served as an extension of the spirit of the Pittsburgh campus. It acted as the perfect backdrop for Corbett’s visit by combining Carnegie Mellon’s message of innovation and the notoriously famous tech atmosphere of Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley is the leading site in tech startup companies, and to draw them closer to the East Coast, it’s essential to our city’s growth that Corbett showed them that Pittsburgh-based industries and projects can compete and work with Silicon Valley’s. Carnegie Mellon is strongest in its main campus, and showcasing the potential for Pittsburgh through a satellite campus was a smart choice for Corbett.

So while Corbett does not have a spotless record in decision making, he is making the right choice in boasting the state’s potential for tech companies of all sizes.