PITTSBURGH, Aug. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Pittsburgh's baseball team and its reputation on a hot streak — recent top rankings include America's Most Liveable City (Economist), Best City for Millennials (24/7 Wall St.), Top 10 Comeback Cities (Forbes), 2nd Best Performing City in America (Business Insider), and Top U.S. Cities where People are Hiring (Gallup/Business Insider) — civic leaders are in equally hot pursuit of another demographic: young Boomers with the knowledge and economic capacity to pursue new career and lifestyle opportunities, and the potential to create millions of dollars in economic impact for the cities that lure and retain them.
"Young Boomers are innovative, entrepreneurial and highly engaged in their communities," said Frederick Thieman, president of The Buhl Foundation and one of the organizers of the Experienced Dreamers Project, a national contest that invited entrepreneurs ages 45+ to submit proposals for launching their dream venture in Pittsburgh. "They not only infuse intellectual capital and wealth into the economy, they have a real concern for the well-being of their community. Cities that succeed in attracting the young Boomer demographic stand to realize significant gain."
Tess Lojacono, 56, of East Aurora, New York, fits that profile, and this morning was presented with a key to the city by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and community leaders in honor of her selection as the $100,000 winner of Pittsburgh's Experienced Dreamers contest.
Designed to draw attention to Pittsburgh as a great place to live, work and pursue new opportunities, the contest followed a study by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation which found that attracting 1,250 high-income (over $70,000 annually) young Boomers would generate an economic impact of $2.6 billion to the city over the next 20 years, generate $36 million in state and local taxes, and create more than 900 new jobs.
Lojacono will receive $50,000 when she completes her move to Pittsburgh this fall. After living in Pittsburgh for one year, the remaining $50,000 will be placed in a charitable fund at The
Pittsburgh Foundation to be used by Lojacono in support of Pittsburgh-based nonprofits.
Lojacono has already started the process of establishing her self-started business, Fine Art Miracles, a program that offers fine arts courses to residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Within the year she plans to expand the business nationally, formalizing curriculum so that facilities in other markets can offer classes to their residents.
"Pittsburgh has been successful in attracting and retaining young talent. U.S. Census figures show that the number of young adults in the City of Pittsburgh increased by 17 percent between 2000 and 2010, and we are making progress in retaining families through the Pittsburgh Promise, a program that offers a four-year, $40,000 college scholarship to students who attend four years of high school in the Pittsburgh Public Schools District," said City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "We are also one of the few cities in the country with an urban population that is growing faster than the surrounding suburbs. This contest invited people planning a later-in-life career move to take a fresh look at Pittsburgh and all that it has to offer."
Organizers are quick to note that word is getting out. Forbes recently named Pittsburgh one of the Best Places for a Working Retirement for its low cost but high quality of living, affordable homes, and solid job growth.
Immediately after receiving her official welcome, Lojacono embarked on a tour of nationally recognized Pittsburgh cultural attractions, including the Cultural District, and visited the Quality of Life Technology Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center based jointly at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. After ending her day throwing out the first pitch at the start of the Pirates v. Diamondbacks game at PNC Park, she said: "My family and I are absolutely thrilled at this opportunity to embrace Pittsburgh and all it has to offer. I have no doubt that Fine Art Miracles will thrive here! I look forward to giving back to this great community with my work, and with the creation of new local jobs, allowing others to present Fine Art Miracles' programs in additional markets."
The Experienced Dreamers contest was made possible by the support of The Buhl Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh.
SOURCE The Buhl Foundation