PITTSBURGH, PA (Nov. 24, 2014) “As a Pittsburgh boy this feels really good. I told Mario [Longhi, U.S. Steel President and CEO], as we sat in the office, I will not be the Mayor that lost U.S. Steel. Not out of Pittsburgh. And all apologies to the Governor, it meant no where else in Allegheny County, nowhere in the state of Pennsylvania — U.S. Steel belongs in Pittsburgh, and it feels really, really good. And I know everyone around here feels the same way too.
There’s a campaign out there promoting Pittsburgh as mighty and beautiful. Part of that might comes from our past and our history and the way that we made things. It was 113 years ago that J.P. Morgan slid Andrew Carnegie a check making him the richest man on earth, and U.S. Steel was born and it was here that it called home. One year later two-thirds of all the steel in the world was being produced by U.S. Steel. Then around 40 years after that in World War II when the country needed us this area, and this region, produced more steel than Germany and Japan combined. Then about 30 years after that when the economy was changing, there weren’t that many people that were doing investments Downtown and U.S. Steel took on the leadership to build the largest tower in all this region, the largest skyscraper between New York and Chicago.
And now we stand about 40 years later and U.S. Steel is there once again. In a center that will be built not just in an area for the manufacturing of steel — which will continue — but the innovation behind it that will create steel lighter than the metals being used in most cars, that will produce steel that will be used to create the wind turbines that will be the energy of our future, to produce steel that will once again lead the world from Pittsburgh. Boy does that sound good.
Like I said it couldn’t be done without a partnership. Very early on the County Executive said this needs to become a priority. The Governor stood up and worked with the leadership within Pittsburgh to make sure the funds were available to make sure this could be done. The new Speaker — and congratulations as well — Mike Turzai working across the aisle and working with the Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa to pull together something we all believe in our hearts was the right thing to do.
But it’s not just about this development. It’s an honor to have Councilman Daniel Lavelle here as it’s about a plan to rebuild a community.
There’s a quote by my favorite mayor, David Lawrence. Even though we differ greatly about how economic development is done — I’m more of a Jane Jacobs type person, and he was more Robert Moses — he had a quote. Pittsburgh’s visionary Mayor David Lawrence is credited, rightly, with so many good works. The Point. Gateway Center. Mellon Square. But this same visionary also razed 95 acres of the Lower Hill, relocated 8,000 people, and cut the arteries connecting the Hill District to Downtown. “The redevelopment of the Lower Hill,” he said in a speech at Harvard in 1956, will be “a giant bite from the core of the city [and] the greatest of our Pittsburgh projects, underway or yet envisioned.”
Six decades later we know what a bitter failure those plans were. One of the beautiful things about this development is half of the tax abatement program that is being used to build this building will be spent to rebuild the Middle Hill and to reconnect the community back to the center core of the city in a way that will provide affordable housing, job training and other types of amenities that the community will be looking for. What a great legacy for another 40 years of leadership by U.S. Steel.
It’s an honor to be part of the team but I have to give special credit to my chief of staff, the city’s chief development officer, Kevin Acklin, who spent countless hours and countless nights working between all the different parties to make sure we had a deal that would benefit U.S. Steel, Pittsburgh, the Hill District and our region. And I know Kevin would give credit to the team around him — folks like Leigh [Halverson] and Robert [Rubenstein] and others — but without a good leader to be able to run economic development I don’t know that we could be here today. “