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Green Industry Hub Rises From Rust Belt Ruins

Paul Solman reports on innovators who are making the Pittsburgh region an eco-showcase of the benefits of going green and bringing new hope to the economically depressed Rust Belt region.

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  • PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour Economics Correspondent:

    Here's a question that may never have occurred to you: Can a region of the Rust Belt become an eco-showcase, a model that could be exported around the country, even globally?

    Can going green, that is, become a new American way to prosper, even confer a competitive edge in the global economy?

    Consider an extreme case of decline. Just eight miles east of Pittsburgh, the once thriving steel citadel of Braddock, home to the very first Carnegie steel mill, the very first Carnegie library.

    At its height in the 1950s and '60s, Braddock's downtown was bustling with businesses, a town with visitors from everywhere, and more than 20,000 local inhabitants. How many today?

  • JOHN FETTERMAN, Mayor, Braddock, Pennsylvania:

    Around 2,800. It's probably the single most dramatic decline of a town that I'm aware of in this country.


    Mayor John Fetterman's vision is to turn things around with a new competitive strategy for the global age: going green for health and profit.

    Fetterman, from York, Pennsylvania, came here in 2001 with a Harvard degree in public policy and an instinct for sympathy. He found a population so desperate they were killing each other for pizza money. The dates of each violent death in town since his election in 2005 are etched in memoriam.

    On the other hand…


    This is the zip code here.




    15104, which, again, really just, again, for me emphasizes the level of commitment that I have for the community.


    Fetterman lives in an old warehouse, has added a penthouse of shipping containers. To Mayor John, as he's now known, the near-ghost town is an eco-experiment in Rust Belt renewal.


    The attraction I think is the overall malignant beauty of Braddock and the history involved. And what's left, I think, is a community that has to reinvent itself.