Let's see ... so just a few days ago, Barack Obama invites the folks at Pamela's to make pancakes at the White House. And all the sudden, we hear that Pittsburgh is to host the G-20 Summit on September 24-25.
Coincidence? I don't think so.
Naturally, county executive Dan Onorato and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl have embraced the news. In a statement, Onorato attributed the honor to the fact that the region has "made great strides in cleaning our air, water and land, as well as promoting smart growth, sustainable development and green jobs." Ravenstahl similarly asserted that "Pittsburgh was chosen because of our status as a symbol of economic transformation as well as our leadership in the green movement."
Not to mention that these days, we're like the poster child for so many other global economic challenges, like massive government indebtedness and seeimngly insurmountable "legacy costs."
ADDED: The Wall Street Journal has some additional thoughts about why Pittsburgh was chosen. One reason is that we're not New York: The U.S. didn't risk insulting UN member countries who weren't invited. ("Hey, you didn't miss anything! We could hardly buy a bottle of wine on a Sunday there!") Another reason: "G8 summits often have been used as an economic development tool, a way to bring businesses to cities outside the host nation’s capital."
Naturally, this can only mean more coverage of Pittsburgh in the pages of The New York Times, and another spate of stories about how we're the comeback city. There will be an economic boost as well, with hotel bookings and other tourist activity getting a huge, badly-needed jolt. We'll probably get more internnational traffic coming through the airport in a single week than we've had in the past 5 years. And there's a good chance of an economic boom for the local plate-glass-window industry, once the WTO protesters march down Walnut Street.
I just hope we're ready for our close-up on the global stage. A couple weeks back, I was walking up 6th Avenue Downtown, just behind three convention-goers speaking Chinese. A big ol' pick-up truck rolled up alongside, and some dude in the passenger seat shouted at them from the window: "ching chong dong ding ching etc. etc." The truck rolled off, to the sound of laughter from inside the cab, as the convention-goers just looked at each other, seemingly more bemused than offended.
Of course, you'll find jagoffs like that in any city. But it might be a good idea to lay in a store of pancakes, just in case we need to smooth over any international incidents.
I love Mel Packer!