In December of 2013, President Obama brought a coalition of new mayors from across the country together to develop plans for America’s progress and growth based on federal-local partnerships. The President’s commitment to removing barriers in Washington has given mayors like me the tools and resources necessary to create a better economic environment in cities throughout the country. In the face of gridlock, mayors across the country are working hard to get things done.
We in Pittsburgh know that we can’t afford to wait for Congress — we need to take action and find partners where we can.
Our new sick leave policy, which I signed into law last week, is a great example of Pittsburgh taking the lead while Congress sits on its hands. America is the only developed nation without a comprehensive sick leave policy, and we could not sit idly by. Pittsburgh is proud to be the 20th city to adopt a paid sick leave policy. We genuinely believe that as one of America’s most livable cities, we have a responsibility to ensure a high standard of living for all of our residents. This legislation supports the health and well-being of thousands of city residents, as well as raising the overall public health of our communities. I’m proud of the collaborative effort in City Council that resulted in a bill that provides workers the support they need without imposing an undue burden on our City’s small businesses.
In addition to moving the President’s policy agenda forward, we have partnered on numerous initiatives. From the moment I took office, my administration has had direct access to federal support related to education, economic development, energy efficiency, immigration, manufacturing, community policing, workforce development and technology.
In the last year and a half, Pittsburgh has been a part of several White House initiatives that have had a direct impact on our region.
- Technology: The TechHire partnership is providing Pittsburghers the skills needed to be competitive in a global economy. In Pittsburgh we will pilot several youth-serving and one adult-serving accelerated training programs that will provide training to over 500 individuals by the end of 2016.
- My Brother’s Keeper: As an MBK Community, elected officials and local partners throughout the Pittsburgh region are working together to forge long-term and strategic programs to help the job and life development of at-risk youth, particularly young men of color.
- Crime and Safety: As part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect, Pittsburgh was selected as one of the first six cities to host pilot sites for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. The DOJ also awarded the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police $1.875 million to hire 15 new community oriented police officers starting in 2015.
- Immigration: In December of 2014, I joined more than 20 mayors from across the country to launch Cities United for Immigration Action (CUIA) — a nationwide coalition of mayors working together to ensure the successful implementation of the President’s immigration reform plan. This coalition is leading the national dialogue on immigration reform at the municipal level and taking a leadership role to influence policy change from the ground up. And we have launched the Welcoming Pittsburgh initiative and developed a local plan to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity for immigrants and native-born residents alike, which builds on the White House Task Force on New Americans.
- Veterans’ Homelessness: In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, my administration has committed to ending veteran homelessness in Pittsburgh by the end of 2015.
- Advanced Manufacturing Initiative: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker awarded the Pittsburgh region a designation under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, making it one of 12 cities this year to receive unique federal support for long-term economic development growth in regional manufacturing.
- Clean Energy: Just last month, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz was in Pittsburgh to support a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Pittsburgh and the National Energy Technology Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy on joint efforts to design 21st-century energy infrastructure for Pittsburgh. The outcomes of this MOU will help modernize delivery of utility services through new business models and markets, grow technology research and development opportunities and product manufacturing, reduce environmental impacts, enhance resilience and security through integrated district-based microgrid solutions, address affordability for consumers, and encourage workforce development.
We are happy to be an active partner with the White House on sick leave and many other initiatives. Pittsburgh is a City on the move, and we are grateful for the partnerships we’ve been able to create — both with other communities and with the President — that improve our quality of life and continue to make us America’s Most Livable City.
Bill Peduto is Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh.