Regional Economic Development

Innovation and Revitalization in Southwestern Pennsylvania

The Ascender and One America Works teams support startups across a broad range of industries, including software, hardware, social ventures, healthcare technologies, educational technologies, and nonprofit organizations.

Drawing Technology Companies to Pittsburgh:

Ascender/Thrill Mill

Drawing Technology Companies to Pittsburgh:

Ascender/Thrill Mill

In recent years, venture capitalist Patrick McKenna has spearheaded a national dialogue about companies seeking to exit Silicon Valley because of high costs of living and obtaining talent, low quality of life, and negative impacts of tax reform. With multiple “heartland” cities devising strategies to attract these companies, Mr. McKenna approached the Foundation with a strategy to draw technology companies to southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Ascender/Thrill Mill, a start-up incubator, is overseeing a $250,000 Foundation grant to hire two representatives in Silicon Valley who, with access to Mr. McKenna’s network, will meet with tech companies considering relocation to highlight the benefits of Pittsburgh. Ascender, in partnership with the city, universities, and workforce and economic development agencies and organizations, will manage and close these conversations, offering a landing spot in its 11,000-square-foot co-working space in East Liberty to companies that opt to relocate. From there, companies can explore opportunities for further expansion into other parts of the community. An additional $100,000 grant from the Foundation brought many of these companies to Pittsburgh for Ascender’s Thrival Music + Innovation Festival in September 2018. The Festival, hosted by John Batelle, founder of Wired magazine, further demonstrated Pittsburgh’s many business benefits to interested companies.