Building Partnerships and Community: A Talk with Bob Hurley

Guest blogger Bob Hurley, GAI Pennsylvania Business Development Director, talks about  forging strong relationships while helping reinvent his hometown Pittsburgh—honing skills that benefit a range of civic, economic, and business initiatives.


A life of devotion to my home town

I recently had a change of career. For more than 30 years, I had the honor of working for several government and nonprofit entities including a range of leadership positions in the Pittsburgh, PA area—and I was privileged to play a role in several initiatives that sought to boost the region’s economy, improve services, and enhance quality of life for the area’s many communities.

You see, I’m a Pittsburgh native, born and bred. The decline of the city’s great steel industry and the impact it had on the Pittsburgh economy affected me very personally. Over my many years working for Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office, and Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), among others, I was proud to be a team member on initiatives that helped reclaim my city’s heritage as a hub of innovation and reinvent Pittsburgh as a recognized center of education, health care, culture, and technology.

Along the way, I learned to speak the language of government, municipalities, business, and nonprofits. I built lasting, trusted relationships. I helped identify opportunities that benefit people, build communities, and drive economies—and I learned solid strategies for turning opportunity into action, and action into sustained success.

That’s what I’m bringing to GAI’s clients today: A insider’s understanding of how to bring ambitious initiatives to life for a breadth of markets—government, public and private development, transportation, and more. Familiar with how a range of organizations think and function, I’m able to connect clients with the expertise and solutions that will address their internal requirements and get the job done. And I’m here to serve as an accessible and knowledgeable liaison throughout the project’s lifecycle and operation.

Orlando Economic Partnership visits Pittsburgh

The Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP) is a public/private nonprofit that works to provide the Orlando region with economic growth, broad-based prosperity, and sustainable quality of life. The OEP periodically embarks on Leadership Missions to other U.S. cities to explore successful economic and community-building strategies.

The OEP mission trip visited Pittsburgh in September 2018, and GAI CEO and Chairman Gary DeJidas—a native Pittsburgher and current Orlando resident—was tapped to help arrange the mission’s itinerary. In my first official act for GAI, I had the great opportunity to interact with OEP members during their visit.

Making connections, sharing successes

The OEP contingent that visited Pittsburgh included Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, incoming Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Orlando’s Director of Economic Development Brooke Bonnett, and a wide representation of the city’s leaders in education, business, healthcare, and finance.

OEP members attended a GAI-hosted Steelers game at Heinz Field; heard from Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and other Pittsburgh legislative leaders; and toured sites that exemplify Pittsburgh’s culture, technology, growth, development, and higher-education offerings including PNC Park, the Carnegie Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh’s Google office, the Energy Innovation Center, the National Robotics Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, and more.

Beyond an opportunity to forge new connections and build new partnerships, the experience reconfirmed for me the amazing things that we’ve accomplished in Pittsburgh over the past few decades—through well-planned initiatives and solid partnerships, morphing from the ‘Smoky City’ centered on heavy industry into a prime location for today’s thinkers, doers, learners, and entrepreneurs.

The success of great civic, economic, and business initiatives is always the result of great and trusted partnerships.

Like many other cities, Orlando shares the desire to improve services, opportunities, and quality of life—and the OEP’s visit to Pittsburgh presented a range of valuable ‘lessons learned’ takeaways. As I see it—and as I’ve lived it over the course of my long career—these desires are common to all communities. And I’ve come to believe that the success of great civic, economic, and business initiatives is always the result of great and trusted partnerships.

Those partnerships are what I offer GAI’s clients, and I look forward to forming new relationships and building great things together. I’ll be presenting a series of articles over the coming months that will explore some strategies that I’ve identified for sustainable public and private development. I hope you’ll take some valuable information from my upcoming discussions, and I look forward to working with you!

Until next time,

Bob Hurley

Contact GAI Pennsylvania Business Development Director Bob Hurley, 412.399.5537, and learn how he can connect you with superior engineering, planning, development, and economic strategy services that will help your initiatives succeed. 


Bob HurleyBob Hurley has decades of experience in environmental, community, and land use planning in the government sector. As former Allegheny County Economic Development Director, Bob oversaw major growth initiatives that significantly improved the region’s economy, including the replacement of UPMC hospital, establishment of a main streets program for Allegheny County communities, and assisting in development of the region’s airport corridor. His prior experience also includes working for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh; the City of Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office as Manager of Economic Development; and for the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

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