G-20 Host Pittsburgh Shows its Resilience

President Obama and other world leaders who were at the United Nations Wednesday will be moving on tomorrow to the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.

Why Pittsburgh? CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports it's a model of how to turn an economy around.

On the outskirts of Pittsburgh, a robotic car gets a test run. There's no remote control. It drives itself.

Developed at Carnegie Mellon University, it's guided by radar, GPS and lasers.

"The thing that's spinning up on top is a laser, actually 64 lasers," says engineer Bob Bittner.

In a way the robocar is emblematic of the remarkable turnaround in the former steel town. Bittner used to work in a steel mill. The town's been reinvented and so has he.

The new Pittsburgh that will play host to world leaders this week is a potent symbol of economic recovery in a time of financial crisis:
"By Pittsburgh's standards, these aren't tough times," said Carnegie Mellon professor Red Whittaker. "We've been there."

Thirty years ago, 27 percent of Pittsburgh's jobs were in manufacturing. Today, it's just 10 percent, but the region now has well over a million employees - more than in the last great years of the steel industry. And the city's unemployment rate of 7.9 percent is nearly two points below the national average.

Pittsburgh is literally building its future on the ruins of its past. Abandoned steel mills, closed more than a decade ago, are being redeveloped. The plans for one such 180-acre site include a major center for the robotics industry.

Andy Hannah started a company, Plextronics, that makes inks that conduct electricity.

"I wanted to work on a business that would literally change the world," he said, demonstrating one of his products. "This is an ink that when you put it onto glass will absorb the photons from the sun or any light and then turn it into electricity."

It's used to print low cost solar panels. In seven years, the company has grown from four employees to 70.

Pittsburgh has a history of industrial innovation. It's a tough town, and says, Whittaker, "a winning town" - one that may have found a map for the road ahead.

Popular

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

On Twitter

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download