The Pittsburgh Region Wrapped: 2021’s Greatest Hits

Just a year ago, we announced a new chapter in our story when the Pittsburgh Region. Next is Now. brand debuted. As the incubator and launch point for a future that is globally impactful, Pittsburgh is bubbling with stories of growth, milestones and investment, and we’re so glad you joined us here in 2021 to read – and share – many of them.

We’ve followed the journey of thought leaders shaping a more equitable future – the movers and shakers who embody Pittsburgh ingenuity and raise the bar for what other regions can accomplish. We’ve celebrated significant milestones and are excited for what 2022 will bring. No celebration of a new year would be complete without also toasting the highlights of the year that’s about to close. From this front-row seat, it’s difficult to distill the best moments into a single list, but let’s try.  Without further ado, here are our picks for the region’s greatest hits of 2021 – a “top dozen.”

  1. Nexii, Meet Batman: Nexii teams up with actor and Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton to build a new sustainability manufacturing plant slated to open in the summer of 2022. Developed in partnership with Trinity Sustainable Solutions, the plant will be the first in the U.S. built entirely with the company’s proprietary, sustainable concrete alternative, Nexiite.
  2. Factories of the Future: Robotics and life sciences get significant boosts from the Richard King Mellon Foundation with a record $150 million grant to fund a new robotics center and advanced manufacturing institute and a $100 million grant to create BioForge, all at Hazelwood Green.
  3. A Roadmap for the Self-Driving Economy: A new report finds the Pittsburgh region poised for a breakout opportunity to become a major global player in the autonomy sector and offers guidance for capitalizing on this window.
  4. Pittsburgh Flies Smarter: Pittsburgh International Airport breaks ground on the new $1.39 billion “airport of the future,” incorporating public health, sustainability and innovation.
  5. Our Region As Influencer: The Pittsburgh region shines in a global spotlight with multiple curtain calls when it is selected to host the premier meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Tech Council, followed by earning an international award for work addressing climate change, selection as host of a meeting of the world’s energy leaders and announcement of plans to host the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit – the latter two in 2022.
  6. Pulling Together for Progress: Stakeholders and public-private partners join forces to define and plan for leveraging the opportunities that historic federal infrastructure investment can offer southwestern Pennsylvania, as well as position the region as a finalist in the U.S. EDA’s “Build Back Better Challenge” which could result in the build-out of a powerful new economic cluster focused on broader and more inclusive opportunities in robotics/AI.
  7. A City for All: Ed Gainey is elected the first Black mayor in Pittsburgh’s history, signaling a new era during which more equity, opportunity, jobs and economic prospects for people of color can bring to fruition a Pittsburgh that is truly livable for all.
  8. Ride the Wave: 2021 was the year of the IPO for Pittsburgh companies – the successful outcome of efforts to build out the region’s tech landscape with incubators and venture capital funds.
  9. Something for Everyone: The geography, workforce, capabilities and other distinctive assets of the counties of southwestern Pennsylvania helped attract investment in 2021 to all parts of the region, including examples such as Cook Medical’s medical devices manufacturing expansion in Armstrong County; the out-of-state attraction of FilterBuy to Westmoreland County; the $8M expansion of Express Med Pharmaceuticals in Beaver County; and the expansion of the iconic Sarris Candies into a 130,000 sq. ft. new production facility in Washington County.
  10. Startup Shout-out: Startup Genome’s new report names Pittsburgh among the top 25 emerging ecosystems for startups worldwide, particularly in artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology.
  11. Road to Somewhere: The Southern Beltway opens, offering faster access to the Parkway West and Pittsburgh International Airport from Washington County. The project, which is the region’s first completely new highway in more than 25 years, opens thousands of acres for economic development.
  12. Aurora’s Homecoming: After previously operating dual headquarters here and in Mountain View, California, self-driving tech company Aurora announces that Pittsburgh will be its sole corporate headquarters, further cementing Pittsburgh’s leadership in autonomous mobile systems.

Whether you are reading this from afar or are already part of the region, we’re glad you joined us throughout this first year. And we hope these moments have inspired you to think about what role you will play in Pittsburgh’s success story … or that Pittsburgh can play in yours. Truthfully, 2021 was just a prologue: the real excitement is just around the corner, and you are the protagonist. We can’t wait to see what’s next, and we hope you feel the same.

2021 in Review, Plus a Look Ahead to What’s Next