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Big Events Gain Momentum in Pittsburgh

Large business events have returned to the Pittsburgh region, bringing with them thousands of visitors, an economic boost and more jobs for the region’s residents. 

Beginning in early September, when the NAFA Institute & Expo came to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC), large live events have started to gain momentum. This one event — the region’s first since March 2020 — brought nearly 1,000 attendees, 94% of whom originated from outside destinations. This one event generated $883,000 in direct visitor spend and supported 432 local jobs. 

In October, the Rubber Division, American Chemical Society held its International Elastomer Conference, marking its fourth visit to Pittsburgh and first since 2016. The group committed to returning to the DLCC in 2023, a sure sign of a successful event. 

In November, the 2021 EDSpaces Conference helped downtown hotel properties average 64% occupancy at its peak on Nov. 3, the highest for a Wednesday since December 2019. 

So far, 23 citywide events are scheduled for Pittsburgh in 2022. The U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics National Forecast projects that domestic business travel spending will reach 76% of 2019 levels in 2022. Most industry studies forecast a complete rebound for business travel in 2024.

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UPMC Investment in Life Sciences Space Bearing Fruit

The Pittsburgh region is poised to move into the upper echelon of life sciences business hubs, thanks to new capital investments designed to move forward the development of translational sciences locally. 

Matthias J. Kleinz, a veteran life sciences consultant who is now a senior vice president of translational sciences with UPMC Enterprises, believes new investments will allow ideas to move from early stages of development and testing all the way to market within the region. 

In January 2020, UPMC committed $1 billion to develop drugs, diagnostics and medical devices through 2024. UPMC Enterprises investments have yielded several successful startups, including BlueSphere Bio, Novasenta, Generian, Abound Bio and UPMC Genome Center. These companies have begun to attract both scientific and management talent from around the country. 

“The ecosystem is starting to get to that type of critical mass,” Kleinz said. “That’s our goal.”

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“We were the city that built the world … now with this new innovation, Pittsburgh can become the city that heals the world.”

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher on the recent $100 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to build BioForge — a massive cutting-edge biomanufacturing facility at Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood Green development

Region Welcomes Return of Large Events in Q4