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Leading up to the G-20 Summit — held in Pittsburgh September 24 and 25, 2009 — Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Chairman and immediate past CEO Thomas L. VanKirk was quoted in a number of articles discussing the city of Pittsburgh and why it was a good location for the summit.

In a September 24, 2009, Wall Street Journal article, titled "In Pittsburgh, a Road Map for a Recovery," VanKirk — a 40-year Pittsburgh resident — discussed the city's "comeback story," saying, "We're not America's best-performing economy, and our balanced economy means that other regions will race out ahead of us again when the recession ends. … But we believe we've engineered America's biggest comeback."

VanKirk continued on the subject in a September 24, post, titled "Why Pittsburgh? Plenty of Reasons," on the WSJ's blog. He was quoted among fellow Pittsburghers, such as U.S. Steel Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive John Surma and President and Chief Executive of Federated Investors Inc. Christopher Donahue, as well as President Barack Obama, on what makes the city special.

"Why Pittsburgh? Why not?," VanKirk responded. "We have successfully transformed our economy over the past 30 years to put ourselves back in the global game. We have built on many of our historic strengths — financial services represents the largest single contributor to our regional economic output.  We still make things. We remain a corporate center. Before the recession, business services represented our region's fastest growing employment sector. Plus, we are a leader across many energy sectors, which are relatively recession-resistant. Along the way, we've invested in innovation to build new industries, from health care and life sciences to information and community technology. And, we've never given up on our commitment to create a high quality of life, from arts and culture to outdoor recreation and green building.

He went on to discuss the city's ability to overcome change. "Were also a region that has learned to adapt to globalization. We were its victim in the 1970s and 1980s. We've become more global in many ways, beyond our major corporations. Regional law firms have become global. Middle market companies are exporting more and opening operations around the world. And hundreds of foreign-owned companies have established a presence here."

VanKirk concluded saying, "The world is constantly changing. But the Pittsburgh comeback shows that places can adapt to new realities. It takes a long time; even today we're not done. But the world can learn from our successes and mistakes as the effort begins."

In addition to the Wall Street Journal, an op-ed written by VanKirk was published in the September 22, 2009, edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In the article, titled "A British G-20 perspective: The Pittsburgh story of change is a lesson for the world," he discussed his personal thoughts on both the United States and Pittsburgh as contributors to the global economy, as well as provided a foreign perspective as written by longtime friend and colleague, Lord Digby Jones — former minister of state for UK Trade & Investment and former head of the prestigious British Confederation of Business and Industry.

VanKirk began the op-ed noting that people born and raised in the U.S. "tend to overlook how much we have and how much we contribute to the global economy." He went on to say that "having lived in Pittsburgh for more than 40 years after growing up in various cities throughout the United States, I sometimes overlook the unique and valuable position of Pittsburgh in the network of leading global regions."

He credited his career as enabling him to "develop friendships with colleagues in other countries," which, in turn, has helped him realize "just what the United States means to people around the world."

"More than 20 years ago, I had the good fortune of getting to know Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham, England," VanKirk wrote. "Over the last two decades, Digby and I have shared our respective thoughts on our countries' politics, business, trade, economy, social issues and much more. For that reason, I have asked Digby to comment, from an English perspective, on the G-20, the fact that the United States is hosting it, and in particular, why he believes Pittsburgh is a great locale."

According to Lord Jones, "It is fitting, indeed utterly symbolic, that the United States has chosen the home of the birth of the Ohio River, a city I have known and loved for over two decades, as the host city for the G-20. For just as the Grouping of Nations has had to change to reflect our globalized economy, so has Pittsburgh had to adapt to a changed world. … As the leaders of the developed and developing world sit down together at the end of the month, as they balance short-term imperatives born of voters, vested interests and populations back home with the long-term global benefits they know to be right for all of us, they should banish the one pervasive, destructive sentiment that can cause such damage to the hope of so many: fear of the unknown. … For they will be sitting in a city that faced exactly that as the first wave of the effects of a globalized economy laid waste to generations of established methods, industries and tradition. Change? Pittsburgh did it in under 20 years. Change? So too can the countries that are set to lead us out of the greatest global downturn in 60 years. … We can all learn a thing or two from the Pittsburgh story. … Our children and their children deserve nothing less."