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Mayor views G20 summit as chance to showcase diverse economy, grow business
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By Wang Wei

When world leaders gather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, next week for the G20 economic summit, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hopes to impress them with a diverse economy and a clean environment and also to grow business for his reinvented city.

Hosting the G20 summit is "a good experience for Pittsburgh" and world leaders can realize how wonderful this city is, Ravenstahl said during an interview with Xinhua.

Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania, was put under the spotlight in May after President Barack Obama announced that the city would host the third G20 economic summit, which was initiated in November 2008 amid the global economic crisis.

Explaining why he picked Pittsburgh, Obama praised the city as "a bold example of how to create new jobs and industries while transitioning to a 21st century economy."

Pittsburgh, also known as the "Steel City," was predominantly a steel town in the 1970s, but the slump of the U.S. steel industry in 1980s, which resulted in 250,000 steel-related job cuts, left the city with no choice but to reinvent itself.

Currently, the city features a diverse economy with not only steel but also health care, higher education, financial services, life sciences and new energy, said the mayor.

"What we have done and what a lot of people don't realize but hopefully will realize after G20 is that we are not that old town and smoky town any more, but in fact a town that is very diverse and welcoming to a lot of industries and sectors," he said. "Because of that, I think President Obama chose us."

Due to its broader economic bases, Pittsburgh's economy has done better than those of many other U.S. cities during the economic meltdown last year, with its unemployment rate being 2 percentage points lower than the national average and the housing market remaining stable.

"President Obama looks at Pittsburgh as a town that others can look to as a model for what they should be doing in order to survive the economic downturn," said the mayor. "It is our hope when world leaders meet in Pittsburgh, they agree on policies how we can turn this economy around."

Pittsburgh, which ranks among the most livable and cleanest cities in the United States, was considered fitting in another favorite theme of the president: environment.

A White House statement released in May said the city was chosen because of its "commitment to employing new and green technology to further economic recovery and development."

For instance, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the main venue for the upcoming G20 summit, received an endorsement from the U.S. Green Building Council as an environmentally friendly design, which relies on skylights for much of its lighting, uses recycled hand towels and takes water from fountains for use in toilets, according to a Wall Street report.

The city is also known colloquially as the "city of bridges" for boasting 446 bridges.

"In a place known as the city of bridges, we can come together to advance our common interest in a global recovery, while turning the page to a truly 21st century economy," Obama said of the feature in a statement earlier this month.

High livability, quality education, convenient transportation and a stable job market build the city's status as a corporate headquarters' home, with over 300 companies based here, including eight listed on the Fortune 500.

"We hope we can use this opportunity to grow business," Ravenstahl said of one of his goals in hosting the G20 summit.

He singled out China as having great potential for cooperation that Pittsburgh is looking for.

Before Pittsburgh was chosen to host the G20 meeting, Ravenstahl had been well known nationwide as the youngest mayor of a major city.

In 2006, then Pittsburgh mayor Bob O'Connor died, pushing Ravenstahl, a 26-year-old city council president, to the top administrative post. He won reelection.

"I am only 29 years old and I am the mayor of the city. It shows you that anything is possible in Pittsburgh, especially for young professionals," he said.

However, expectations have come along with challenges to the young mayor.

He told a press conference last week that the city was in the process of training police officers, 1,000 from the city and another 1,000 from the state, to deal with additional security posed by the conference, which was expected to cost almost 34 million U.S. dollars.

When asked if he felt pressure in hosting the event, Ravenstahl said: "It is not just me, but a great team in Pittsburgh and a region working together."

"We look forward to collectively hosting the world, and it is an honor to be part of it," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency September 20, 2009)

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