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Five of My Favorite Pittsburgh Rankings

Whether we like it or not, rankings mean everything or so it seems. School rankings, sports rankings, car rankings, food rankings, you name it. Admit it: we all look for them and usually follow them. Personally, I can't wait each year for the post-Thanksgiving rush to rank college football teams for bowl games.

But there's no doubt Pittsburgh is on top of lots of rankings –and we deserve it!

Here are my five favorite rankings in 2010 of Pittsburgh and why we deserve these prestigious rankings.

5.    "America's Most Livable City" – again! In May of this year, Forbes Magazine once again listed Pittsburgh as America's Most Livable City. Our affordable living, low crime, diverse economy and number of  jobs and our incredible cultural scene was reason enough to make us #1. Again.

Of all the reasons why we are #1 – great rivers, super universities, terrific sports teams, outstanding labor force – the reason we regained this title, in my opinion, is because of RAD. The 1994 passage of the Allegheny Regional Asset District stabilized our cultural community, led to significant growth through privatization, and ushered in tax base sharing. Way to go, RAD.

4.    #1 in VC Investment Growth in 2010! Is that unbelievable, or what?  According to Pittsburgh Today (our regional benchmarking organization), as of October of this year, Pittsburgh outperformed all other regions in Venture Capital Investment Growth – that means more ideas, innovation and start-ups here in Pittsburgh.

No doubt our universities like Pitt and Carnegie Mellon play a major role in helping attract VC funding for innovative start ups.  So too does the work of many regional economic development organizations like the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.  But, in my opinion, this achievement is a direct result of organizations like the Idea Foundry and Innovation Works – two terrific organizations working hand in hand to provide all kinds of human and financial capital services to local start up companies.
3.    #1 in Fitness – nonprofits, that is! According to Charity Navigator, a national organization that analyzes how nonprofits manage their dollars, Pittsburgh ranked #1 for having the most financially fit nonprofit organizations in country. Don't confuse this for being rich – they are not –but they are well-run.

This is incredibly important, especially in light of the increasing role the nonprofit sector plays in our everyday lives. Many former public sector programs and services are now being provided by the nonprofit sector and more and more for profit and nonprofit organizations are working closely on issues and initiatives important to our community.

While Pittsburgh's long and proud history of volunteer civic engagement has helped us earn this recognition, and the ongoing support from our foundation community for many capacity-building support programs, the new and innovative approaches to grant making and organization support being implemented at the Pittsburgh Foundation --- our community foundation – is in my opinion, doing an incredible job in helping Pittsburgh nonprofits achieve sound sustainability.

2.    #3 in Worst Hair in America –At least we're not #1!  According to Totalbeauty.com, Pittsburgh ranked 3rd out of 13 cities with the worst hair cuts (Corpus Christi is #1).  This is nothing to be ashamed of; it's part of our heritage. While we may not have created the mullet, Pittsburghers are doing what we can to keep it in style. Just look around.

1.    And here is my all time favorite ranking of Pittsburgh (drum roll please) . . . Pittsburgh ranks #1 In Ho Ho consumption.  That's right; Pittsburghers love our Hostess Ho Hos. According to the makers of this wonderful chocolate cake treat, Pittsburgh leads the nation in the shortest shelf life for Ho Ho's.  We consume about 1.5 Ho Ho's per person, per day!  Buffalo, Cincinnati and Cleveland follow right behind us.

So, in the spirit of maintaining our #1 Ho Ho status, here is a great recipe for you to try – Ho Ho Pudding! In the meantime, ho ho ho. Happy Holidays!

Items Needed:
•    1 box of Ho Hos
•    2 pkgs chocolate pudding mix
•    4 cups milk
•    1 large tub whipped topping
Directions: Cut Ho Hos into circles, saving 1 Ho Ho. Mix pudding and milk according to package pudding directions and chill until thick. In large glass bowl, layer Ho Hos, pudding and whipped topping. Ending with whipped topping. Take remaining Ho Ho and slice in circles and place on top. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

John Denny is director of community relations for the Hillman Company. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Pop City staff, none of whom sport a mullet.

 Ho Hos courtesy John Denny.
All other photographs and montage Brian Cohen
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