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Behind Again On Progress

April 12, 2008
The Intelligencer
At one time, Wheeling competed with Pittsburgh to be the industrial and commercial hub of our region of the country. Those days are long gone, of course. Pittsburgh surpassed Wheeling in economic development during the 19th century.

And, though Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County have encountered many of the same problems that have plagued our local economy, they have continued to outpace us in economic development.

One key issue facing Wheeling and Ohio County has been cooperation in developing the economy. For many months, “metro government” has been discussed as a method of promoting such cooperation.

Wheeling City Council members already have voted to take the first step in exploring “metro government.” That is creation of a special commission to study the issue and determine whether it can be helpful here. Ohio County commissioners have not agreed to take that step, however.

Meanwhile, something similar is being discussed in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. There, a task force looking into local government and development has recommended that the city and county merge at least some operations of government. The report suggested that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials should have “zero tolerance” for any duplication of government services.

Allegheny County officials seem to have favored some form of what we refer to as “metro government” for some time. After reading the task force report, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he agrees.

Once again it appears that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County will take a step to boost their area’s economy — while our area of West Virginia lags behind. What makes that of special concern is that the two areas compete in some ways for new businesses. Pittsburgh and Allegheny County will be in the lead in terms of combining forces to develop the economy — while local officials here continue to argue about whether doing so is a good idea.

One of the advantages Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have had for many years is a willingness to look beyond doing things the same way they always have been done. Clearly, that still is a serious problem in our area.

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