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Sean D.S. Sebastian

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Sean D.S. Sebastian is managing principal of Birchmere Investments, a private equity investment fund based Downtown. He also worked in artificial intelligence commercialization and consulting for General Electric Information Services and American Management Systems. He has an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

We need to measure ourselves on the common benchmarks, but I think we also ought to dig a little deeper to find anecdotal information and stories about our area that are reflective of the area.

For instance, a local private school near our house has 60 kids competing for four spots in the first grade. That tells me there’s a boomlet here. It tells me there are a lot of young families having young kids. It tells me there’s a high demand for quality education and a lot of families who can afford it. These are all very positive indicators of vitality of our community.

But what you get is we’re the second oldest county in the country. Fine, but let’s look a little deeper to find indicators that run contrary to that that are more important to us and to what we’re trying to do.

I’m a transplant to Pittsburgh, and I’ve been here five years. I think having had an outside perspective and careers in other fields enables me to take a fresh look at the area and really see the value of the area and how special is it.

I’d also note that when I look around this room, I’ve worked with everyone here before in some capacity, either professionally or in a civic way. I looked at the section and the panel you assembled a year ago. All those people worked together.

None of us here is a CEO of a 100-year-old Fortune 500 manufacturing business, yet.

But I look at that group and I see a fraternity, a relationship, a network. But those two don’t overlap very much. These guys here today are the future of the city, the core young companies that are going to be the cornerstones of our future economy. Those big companies will also be important, but they’re not going to grow dramatically the way these people’s businesses are.

But that’s a whole new generation change, a whole evolution of what’s going on in this area. And it’s just beginning to get outside our little circle. People are beginning to sense that there’s something energetic and exciting happening here that hasn’t really existed until quite recently.

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