Power of 32 introduced

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Former politician and public servant, Allen G. Kukovich served as featured speaker during the June 18 Power Breakfast meeting held by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania. During his presentation he introduced the Power of 32, a new initiative involving the region.

While introducing Kukovich to a mixed audience of adults and students, Doris Carson Williams, president and CEO of the Chamber, stated that the Power of 32 shows promise for exciting things happening in the region.

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NEW POWER— Allen G. Kukovich introduces the Power of 32.

Labeled as the largest regional visioning project ever, the Power of 32, defined by Kukovich, is a regional visioning initiative that will involve tens of thousands of people across 32 counties in western Maryland, eastern Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania in creating a shared vision for the region’s future. He says through the Power of 32, we can think differently about our region’s challenges—our role in the global economy, our quality of life, and our opportunities—and act in ways that set a new direction for the future.

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BUSINESS LEADERS OF TOMORROW—Students from Grace Robinson’s Tomorrow’s Future Program attended the breakfast.

Counties within southwestern Pennsylvania include Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland. Williams, as well as Candi Castleberry-Singleton, chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer for Inclusion in Health Care, UPMC, are members of the Power 32 Steering Committee representing Allegheny County. Members of the committee consist of community, non-profit and business leaders from across the 32 counties.

Kukovich explained that the Power of 32 region shares a common history and industrial past, along with a common workforce that travels across the 32 counties for work. He says a quarter of our workforce lives in one county and works in another and that common assets are shared, such as universities, natural resources, the heath care system, and cultural institutions. Together we are competing against other regions around the world for jobs and opportunities, and together, we can work toward a future of prosperity.

The project points out that shared problems include urban decline increases development pressure on the suburban fringe, and government policies that facilitate fringe development and keep poor people concentrated in urban neighborhoods making it more difficult for cities to maintain social and economic health.

Launched in 2009, according to Kukovich the goals of the project are to create a shared vision and regional agenda; to instill a sense of realistic optimism; to inspire cross-sector leadership and to connect people, communities, and institutions. For the growth of the region, he says we have to look at building more livable communities.

“These efforts give us all a voice in the future,” said Kukovich. “In order for the project to be successful it has to be inclusive of everyone.” To get involved, which he defined as imperative, he says community conversations will be held over the summer. At that time assets, challenges and opportunities facing the region will be identified. During the fall, framing solution sessions will take place to develop and vet policy options to address the top challenges that were identified during the Community Conversations. In the winter of 2011 regional town meetings will provide a forum for thousands in multiple locations, linked by technology, to prioritize the policy options that will best address each of the top regional challenges. An online survey and online media programs are also designed to reach people at home, libraries and or community centers.

Power of 32 continues to put in place staff and volunteer team members to adequately handle the many tasks.

Delighted that students from Grace Robinson’s Tomorrow’s Future Program were in attendance during the breakfast meeting, Kuk­ovich pointed out the significance for people of all ages to participate and continuously be involved in the process of Power of 32.

To be a part of the project and for more information, Kukovich suggests logging onto the website at http://www.powerof32.org or calling 1-866-431-3622.

Located in the Regional Enterprise Tower, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania is designed to improve business and professional opportunities for African-American business owners and professionals.

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