Strategic Economic Development: A Talk with Mark Anthony Thomas

by | July 26, 2021 | Past Events, Community Resources | 0 comments

The Forbes Funds was joined today by special guest, Mark Anthony Thomas, the President of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. He is responsible for crafting and executing the 10 county region’s economic development plan and advancing partnerships that will drive job creation and business investment. Access the recording of this community call here.

Economic Ecosystem Building

As President of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA), Mark Anthony Thomas informed viewers that the mission of the PRA is to advance the regional economy and attract strategic business investment. Hence, the PRA helps companies – local, regional, and international – and innovative organizations choose the Pittsburgh region and talent for their growth and expansion plans such as:

Pittsburgh Region Slide  depicting tax incentives, project announcements and events, real estate sites and operational needs, and more.

For example, Mark Anthony Thomas highlighted the work of PRA in bringing in Per Scholas, a New York-based national tech training company to expand in the Pittsburg area.

Pre-COVID investments involved limited economic growth and population declines. Half of college students leave the city. Identified a need for a unfied Pittsburgh brand that prioritizes high-growth and high-potential sectors and entrepreneurship.

Mark Anthony Thomas also highlighted some of the issues that the PRA is facing on the investment side including limited economic growth, population decline, and young talented college graduates leaving for other labor markets. Hence, the PRA is working with local institutions and organizations to promote Pittsburg’s competitive advantage in the hi-tech manufacturing, life sciences, healthcare, and other economic sectors.

On the talent side of the equation, Mark Anthony Thomas emphasized the collaborative work of the PRA in providing businesses with the tools necessary to attract and retain high-quality human capital and creating ecosystems where talent can thrive.

During the Q & A, Mark Anthony Thomas discussed briefly how might the PRA collaborate with the Pittsburgh nonprofit sector. They can cooperate together in creating productive ecosystems that promote job opportunities in the area.

You can contact Mark Anthony Thomas on his LinkedIn and can access the PRA’s 2020-2030 report. It is a vision to improve the economic vitality of the Pittsburgh region.

GPNP Public Policy Updates with Colleen Young

Behavioral Health Disparities

Behavioral Disparities Slide

Colleen Young brought attention to the ongoing behavioral health disparities still afflicting Pennsylvania. She has detailed some resources that viewers or close ones can access in the event that they need assistance. They include the PA Mental Health Guide online and the PA Care Partnership webinars.

DHS ARPA Water Assistance

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Services is using funds from the American Rescue Plane to fund the Low-Income Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). It is a grant that will begin in January 2022 that will either restore water services and pay existing arrearages to water companies. It should be noted that the grant is eligible for only 1 kind of water services such as wastewater or drinking water.

Households who are receiving public assistance (e.g., SSI or LIHEAP) are automatically income eligible.

Child Tax Credit

Families have begun to receive child tax credits starting 15 July. They can expect to receive up to $300 depending on child age and income.

Those who have filed taxes can expect either or a direct deposit or check in the mail. For non-filers, must go to the IRS Child Tax Credit Non-Filers Sign Up Tool to access their benefits.

USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production Grants

The United States Department of Agriculture is offering Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production Grants. Schools, local & tribal governments, nonprofits are eligible to apply. The grants are worth between $50,000 and $300,000 and cover the planning and implementation phases of said projects.

The deadline to apply is 30 July.

PA Nursing Home Strike

Workers of Pennsylvania nursing homes are threatening a one-day strike tomorrow for better wages citing low pay as a chief concern. They hope to force employers to use $247 million in federal funds to raise wages.

It should be noted that some area nursing homes have already reached tentative deals with nursing home workers to raise wages and stop a localized strike.

State Forest Drilling Funds

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that funds from the state forest drilling cannot be used to balance the state budget. The forward drilling funds must be used for conservation purposes.

COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 rates across the country have been increasing, mostly in those who are unvaccinated. Hence, the CDC has recommended that children between the ages of 2+ regardless of vaccination status should be wearing masks indoors and in all public spaces.

For the latest in Covid-19 in Pennsylvania including racial demographic statistics, please access the COVID Race Data Portal and the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard.

2021 GPNP Summit

Colleen Young advertised the upcoming 2021 GPNP Summit. They are currently looking for interested speakers with innovative content. The deadline to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) is 30 July. The 2021 summit takes place on the 13, 14, and 15 of October.

Black Equity Coalition

Black Equity Coalition

Alissa Monette of the Black Equity Coalition gave a brief health update. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has distributed over 11.4 million vaccinations to date, with over 62.2% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

The Allegheny County of Health has a survey out to determine the health priorities for the next 3-5 years. The deadline to participate in the survey is 31 July.

Alissa Monette asks anyone who is in need of emotional support to please sign up for the Black Women’s Policy Center event on Black Women Overcoming Grief.

You can follow the Black Equity Coalition on social media here:

Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership (ACCEL)

Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership (ACCEL)

Dr. Hannah Karolak announced that the Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership (ACCEL) applications are open for ACCEL Fundamentals and ACCEL Advanced. Nonprofits interested in boosting their marketing & communication skills and creating better fundraising plans should take these courses. You may sign up for Fundamentals via this form or sign up for Advanced via this form.

Graduates earn a professional digital badge from The Forbes Funds, gain access to future ACCEL special events, and join a network of local ACCEL alumni.

Dr. Hannah also announced that if anyone needs assistance submitting a GPNP proposal for the 2021 GPNP Summit, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Dr. Hannah for help.

Innovation Lab and Equity Hackathon

Innovation Lab and Equity Hackathon Slide

The Innovation Lab, which begins officially next week, is looking for potential participants to brainstorm innovative solutions to existing challenges and advance equity in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region, emphasizing cross-sectoral teams. Specifically, she is looking for participants in the neighborhood & built environment, social context determinants, healthcare quality & access fields. Get more information on how to sign up for the Innovation Lab here. 

Future Events

Be sure to register for future Community Solutions Calls here. See you at the next Community Solutions Call or a number of our upcoming events here!


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