Fontana: Young Adults Flocking to Pittsburgh

In this week's column, Robinson-area State Sen. Wayne Fontana comments on a new study that shows more young adults are calling Pittsburgh home.

A recent report, the Young Adults Report 2012, issued by the University of Pittsburgh's University Center for Social and Urban Research and PittsburghTODAY shows that over the past five years Pittsburgh has seen a percent influx of residents aged 20-34. This turnaround contradicts, with data, the impression that still exists in some circles that Pittsburgh is losing its young population. In fact, this report forecasts that population will grow an additional 8 percent by 2020.

The Young Adults Report 2012 also shows that Pittsburgh ranks fifth in the nation for workers aged 25-34 who have earned a bachelor’s degree and the city is only one of three regions where more than 20% of young workers hold advanced degrees. Additionally, the city’s population of 18-to-24 year-olds rose 17% from 2000 to 2010 and 50 city neighborhoods saw in increase in this segment of the population.

To continue this trend, as a Commonwealth, we must make the necessary investments in education, transportation and economic development, which will provide for sustainable growth. Our region has much to offer—a low cost of living and a high quality of life—which are attractive to younger people.

Keeping younger people in the region for the long term requires the Commonwealth to provide adequate funding to public schools, solve our mass transit funding crisis once and for all, and strategically invest public resources with private dollars to spur continued economic development, which creates jobs in our region.

In my role as the Democratic Chair to the Senate’s Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee I will continue advocating for policies and funding streams that leverage public dollars for private investments into projects that create jobs. These public-private partnerships are not just taking place downtown. I was proud to secure significant funding for a grocery store in Beechview and have since witnessed new businesses move into the area as a result, creating a “buzz” in the neighborhood’s business district.

Because of this activity, we have seen an increase of young people moving to Beechview. In McKees Rocks, I was able to secure significant funding for a project that will convert the former Pennsylvania & Lake Erie Railroad into a mixed use, light industrial complex, which has the potential to create 1,200 jobs.

In light of this report, it is more important than ever that we invest back into our communities so young people not only relocate to our region, but stay here for the long term.

You can read the entire report at http://www.pittsburghtoday.org/specialreports/PT_TAYA.pdf.

Senator Wayne D. Fontana

42nd Senatorial District



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