Pittsburgh skyline

When business resumes some normalcy, Pittsburgh will get back to promoting what it has to offer in a bold way: an international summit that spotlights its role in robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing.

The city recently won a bid to host the inaugural Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) America in July — the first event booked for 2021 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. As the first American city to join the partnership originating in the United Arab Emirates, Pittsburgh will host a GMIS satellite event each year.

“We’re really excited about this. It’s a tremendous thing to put the international spotlight on Pittsburgh like this, and we hope to attract investment into our city and our region,” says Simin Curtis, president and CEO of the American Middle East Institute (AMEI). “This will be the first time that anything like this has been held here in Pittsburgh. For us, it’s a success story.”

It’s the result of several years of communication that began with a visit by a Pittsburgh delegation to Dubai in 2018, organized by AMEI, and follow-up visits by GMIS organizers to Pittsburgh. They toured the convention center last year and again last month, when Pittsburgh was able to demonstrate that the building is ready to safely host gatherings, says Jerad Bachar, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh.

One reason is the center’s implementation of the VenueShield Environmental Hygiene Program, created by ASM Global, which ensures the building operates at the highest standard of health and safety, Bachar says.

“Though current limitations on indoor and outdoor gatherings prevent many groups from meeting in Pittsburgh now, we know that the time will come soon when business and sports events will be held in the city,” he says. “We feel very confident that our venues, like the convention center, will be prepared to safely hold these events.”

The GMIS model is meant to enable cities around the world to mobilize manufacturers and encourage collaboration and partnerships.

“[Pittsburgh] serves as a great success story for its achievement in not just reviving its industrial heritage but also developing it into a high-tech manufacturing cluster,” says Badr Al-Olama, head of the GMIS organizing committee. “… GMIS America will showcase Pittsburgh as a national and global hub for advanced manufacturing, serving as a perfect example for other cities around the world that are embarking on an advanced industrialization drive.”

Bachar says the convention center’s LEED Platinum Certified sustainability status also was a factor in securing the bid — GMIS will encourage cities to promote inclusive and sustainable development, much as Pittsburgh has, and to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Hosting the summit will enable Pittsburgh to emphasize its robotics, AI and advanced manufacturing, making it the perfect choice, says Ira Moskowitz, CEO of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute.

“From the first industrial revolution to today’s emphasis on robotics and artificial intelligence, Pittsburgh has always been a leader in advanced manufacturing. This is a key reason why the U.S. government chose our city to be the home of the national ARM Institute,” Moskowitz says. “We welcome this global audience to Pittsburgh and hope that, together, we can continue to invest in the technologies and empower the people that drive manufacturing capabilities forward.”

Some people may have a false sense of what manufacturing is today, with its emphasis on new technologies, says Mark Thomas, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.

“We’ve undersold our future as an advanced manufacturing center,” says Thomas. “A summit is good when you can play host to a conversation that is relevant to the industries you’re building because people don’t just stay within the conference center and the hotels. It puts our message front and center with influencers who can determine significant investment opportunities that would benefit our region.

“There’s a lot of interest to get us back to a place where we can continue growing and promoting our region.”

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.