An intercity leadership conference between Tacoma and Pittsburgh began this weekend in an effort to share insight to make the South Sound the best place in Washington to do business.

Photo by Josh Dunn

Aspire South Sound is an annual conference connecting local leaders with innovative and forward-thinking cities. This year’s venture to Pittsburgh runs from Sept. 22­–25.

Representatives from Pierce County include Eric Johnson, executive director of the Port of Tacoma; Betty Capestany, Pierce County Economic Development director; Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board from Tacoma-Pierce County; Conner McCarthy, deputy mayor of the City of Tacoma; and Josh Dunn, owner of South Sound Business magazine. Other delegates include representatives from Ledger Square Law, the Manufacturing Industrial Council, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Pierce Transit, Korsmo Construction, Boeing, Shaub-Ellison Co., Rainier Connect, University of Washington-Tacoma, and Geico.

Photo by Josh Dunn

Participants arrived to a reception in Pittsburgh, greeted by Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and his chief of staff, Dan Gilman. They told South Sound visitors about how Pittsburgh has harnessed progressive economic development in order to become one of the top places in the U.S. to launch a small business. It has a tremendous market for education and medical-pharmaceutical industries, as well as a growing millennial population due, in part, to Google and Uber setting up shop in the city. An emphasis on new growth with clean air, improved water quality, and sustainable transportation has given residents a high-quality of life with a low cost of living.

In the coming days, delegates will receive presentations from panelists, discuss downtown development, visit key industry destinations, and more. We will update the story with details as the conference continues.