GTECH’s Policy Framework

GTECH is at a pivotal point in our young history, this April, GTECH will celebrate our 9th Birthday.  We can no longer claim we are a young, scrappy startup organization and need to think about how and what contributions GTECH will make 5, 10, or 20 years from now to the Pittsburgh Region.

Later this month, GTECH will officially roll out our Policy Framework document which will be used to to clarify our strategic relationship to key regional policy issues. This document will highlight our work in the region and its effect on land use decisions. It will also be used to embody and support GTECH’s mission, values, and strategic goals. Where possible we will highlight the importance of collaboration and identify best practices to support our work.

We have highlighted 5 key policy objectives that GTECH will work collaboratively to address in the coming years.
(in no particular order)

  1. Reduce Blight and Vacancy in the Region
  2. Increase the Resilience and Sustainability of the Region
  3. Increase Access to and Improve Green Infrastructure Solutions
  4. Increase Access to Vacant Land
  5. Promote the Green Economy

We feel that the region is shifting focus, demographics and investments towards creating more livable, equitable and sustainable outcomes, and GTECH is positioned to help shape policy decisions that will affect our region moving forward.  Once known for the Steel Industry and industrializing the United States the mills have since dried up, and an Ed’s and Med’s Initiative is actively pushing research, universities, and corporations to Pittsburgh.  In the past decade Pittsburgh has also started to become a hub for technology companies as well as an increase in millennials moving into the region as shown below in the graph.  While these trends are great for the economic stability of our region, Western PA is also at a pivotal point in time in regards to dealing with problems plaguing residents, including vacancy and blight, crumbling infrastructure, transportation issues as well as unforeseen environmental issues.

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Post Gazette article highlighting numbers of millennials in the region

GTECH recently completed our Strategic Plan for the next three years and we have highlighted continuing vacant land redevelopment as a vehicle for community and resident empowerment.  As with many rust belt cities, our region is dealing with land use issues, including remediation of old toxic sites, vacancy, and blight. Pittsburgh is home to around 30,000 vacant properties, and vacant land causes a long list of issues including (but not limited to); a decreased tax-base for the surrounding neighborhood, public health issues, social isolation, and environmental hazards. GTECH has prided itself on using data driven decision making, with an investigative process that directly correlates to actions and programming.  For example, in 2014 our Youth In Green Report, highlighted the areas in the city with the highest levels of vacancy as well as the amount of environmental education programming available (map below).  The findings of this report led directly to the our Green Playces Initiative which uses an innovative design and community process to build community resources for kids using vacant lots, while considering environmental partners to facilitate educational programming for the space. Our Green Playces Initiative will focus on the Northside, Homewood, Hilltop, Hill District, City of McKeesport and the City of Wilkinsburg.

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City of Pittsburgh Levels of Vacancy

In particular, vacant land has become a legacy of Pittsburgh’s economic shift that places a great deal of burden on the City. Within the City, vacant land is not only an economic challenge, but also a geographical and organizational one. These properties tend to be highly dispersed, and they vary in size and title status. As such, the challenge facing the City of Pittsburgh and its residents often rests in finding viable interim uses, preserving future opportunities and crafting long-term solutions all while streamlining these processes for interested individuals and groups. It is our hope to help resolve this problem using our networks and collaborative work process to empower residents to take action and reclaim their neighborhoods.  We hope this Policy Framework will serve as vehicle for conversations about  policy recommendations to address these issues. Check back on our website and social media sites to view the full Policy Framework document.

One thought on “GTECH’s Policy Framework

  1. Dear Katie,
    The other night after reading this email from GTECH, I read about a project in Detroit that can be replicated here, and which fits in perfectly with GTECH’s goals.
    An energy company is leasing 10 acres of blighted-vacant land in the city and installing enough solar arrays to power 450 homes a year with clean energy. What makes it even better is that the company will pay the city of Detroit $1million over the life of the 20-year lease. So several goals are accomplished at once: a blighted vacant property is put to productive use, clean energy is generated for 450 homes, the city receives badly needed revenue, and installing the solar array creates badly needed jobs in the city.
    Our mayor here in Carnegie, Jack Kobistek, is a great admirer of your work, and we have plenty of vacant lots in town, just like the city. If you want to do a pilot program here, the town will do everything we can to help you. We also have already on the books a model solar ordinance that should make approval a little quicker.
    I am vice-president of the Shade Tree Commission in Carnegie. We are out town’s green group working for sustainable solutions to problems like storm water runoff, and increasing the tree cover in town. I think a project like a solar array on one of the vacant lots would fit right in with our goals. Maybe we can do a smaller project here, and then a bigger one in the city. I’m sure both communities would be happy to have the extra income. Who knows? May we can start a trend that will spread all around the county. If you want to talk with me more about this idea, just give me a call at 412-489-5737. I am a big admirer of GTECH’s work, too.
    Robert Podurgiel
    Carnegie Shade Tree Commission

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