pittsburgh skyline, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from David Watson’s photostream

If you already live in Pittsburgh, you don’t need National Geographic to tell you what a great and unique place it is. You know that we have the the best of both a small town and an urban environment. We have all the cultural amenities of a large city — the museums, libraries, colleges and universities, symphony, theatres, art scene — coupled with the small town feel of many of our older neighborhoods. And, all of it wrapped up in a geographic area with breathtaking views. But, with all Pittsburgh has to offer, and with all the publicity we’ve received being named “America’s Most Livable City” multiple times, we still have a problem attracting new residents. A new initiative aims to change that: The Experienced Dreamers™ Contest. It’s goal is to attract the over 45 crowd to relocate to our city.

Usually the emphasis has been on trying to attract the young to move here. However, a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes the benefits to be had by looking in another direction:

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.

[snip]

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.

The contest offers participants the opportunity “to chase your dream and create your legacy” with “$100,000 to help you do it…” You do have to be at least 45 years of age and have not resided within a 100 mile radius of downtown Pittsburgh within the past 10 years in order to apply. The winner will receive $50,000 in cash and the rest as a charitable family trust. According to the contest website, “In the spring of 2012, 20 semifinalists and five finalists will be chosen based on the originality, creativity, passion and clarity demonstrated in their applications. And the winner will be chosen from among the five finalists by a vote of the people of Pittsburgh.”

The contest has already attracted the attention of The Atlantic Cities with an article headlined, “Would You Move to Pittsburgh for $100,000?” (Really, if you knew us, it wouldn’t seem like such a dare.) But that is the challenge: Making people at least consider Pittsburgh. We know we can more than handle their dreams…