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Barbara K. Mistick

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Barbara K. Mistick is the director of the National Education Center for Women in Business at Seton Hill College, Greensburg. A magna cum laude graduate of Carlow College with an master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh, she also has been a successful entrepreneur, building two businesses from start-ups.

I’m an anomaly at the table. I was born and raised here.

Pittsburgh has a lot of wonderful resources, the first being the region. Pittsburgh is sort of the middle of the doughnut, but it’s the region around that area that’s really created wealth and opportunities, and we need to foster that. We really need to work together. We need regional leadership.

And we have to take a look at what happens educationally. No matter what we talk about in creating innovation for the region or recasting the region, we have to give these kids of the next generation the right skills. It’s not as much how we retrain workers now, but how well we build that next generation. Most of the jobs that will be out there when they graduate aren’t out there now. They’re jobs that their parents can’t introduce them to.

Finally, we need to look at a balance of leadership. And I see it in the room today. I’m the only woman here. And certainly what I do — working with women who start businesses — has made me very sensitive about that. But women start businesses at a rate that’s two times their male colleagues’ today. We may not see them in as many of the gazelle-type industries, but they are mainstays of the economy here. And many of them are not as likely to move.

Pennsylvania has the sixth-highest concentration of women providing revenues and job creation of all of the states.

One of the reasons women leave companies and start their own businesses is that they’re not being valued in those corporate settings. And it’s not just women. Pittsburgh has been very parochial for a long time. For many women, it’s hard to look around and see other women that connect with them. And it makes it a little more lonely for women.

We talk about the universities as being so key to this growth. But when you look at it, it’s the colleges that are really providing the work force. Many of the university grads will go elsewhere. Many of the colleges have a much greater percentage of students who stay in the region. We really need a partnership between these research institutions and these colleges. Because every kid is not going to go Carnegie Mellon University or to the University of Pittsburgh.

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