Center for Metropolitan Studies Research

CONNECT is a project within the Center for Metropolitan Studies (CMS), located at the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). CMS reinforces the work of CONNECT by acting as the research and academic side of urban policy in the Pittsburgh region. Its mission is to develop the skills and strategies necessary to work across boundaries between and amongst governments, civic institutions, private interests, and citizen groups in the complex local environment in which they exist.

In 2015, the Center for Metropolitan Studies began the publication of a new series of policy briefs, “Innovative Solutions to Regional Issues.” Authored by Center staff and expert guest authors, the series highlights challenges that face the Western Pennsylvania region, and proposes solutions and recommendations to address said challenges. 

 Featured Policy Brief

"Infrastructure Coordination: Engaging Regional Players in Collaborative Utility Repair and Road Construction"


With 130 municipalities in Allegheny County alone, dozens of utility companies, and numerous authorities all operating in the county — and a network of aging infrastructure in constant need of repair — avoiding costly duplication and inefficient investment in construction and reconstruction is a daunting task. The importance of “getting it right” is highlighted by the observation that over $3 billion in infrastructure investments is currently planned between the governments and utilities over the next several years.

How can this multitude of governments and public utilities better coordinate construction and digging in Right of Way grounds? What steps have been taken, and what recommendations are given to aid in this area of critical collaboration? This policy brief seeks to answer these questions through the narrative of the efforts of Pittsburgh’s urban core led by the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) to establish a mechanism that allows for coordinated planning and investment. The convening of relevant players in this regional issue set the stage for planning processes and relationship-building with discussion that set the groundwork for future collaboration and coordination.

Visit the website to download and learn more about the Center for Metropolitan Studies' policy papers.

 Check out the Center's three additional briefs below!


Shale Development, Impact Fees, and Municipal Finances in Pennsylvania

Dr. Jeremy Weber and Max Harleman

Weber and Harleman's analysis exploring shale drilling in Pennsylvania and municipal fund balances highlights how Pennsylvania’s Impact Fee on natural gas wells helps municipalities address the local costs of shale development. Weber and Harleman found that shale development contributed little to municipal tax revenues. However, revenues from the Impact Fee on natural gas wells, introduced in 2012, caused a doubling of non-tax revenues for municipalities with substantial drilling. The largest increase in spending among such municipalities was on roads.


Analyzing Commute Patterns in Allegheny County, PA

This policy brief summarizes information on the location of where people work in Allegheny County and where they live, and suggests that the alsoUrbs (municipalities contiguous to the City of Pittsburgh) be given greater representation in transportation planning. It paints an interesting picture of the movement of individuals from home to work and back again. That picture is a complex mosaic of interconnectedness and interdependence further complicated by varying intensity of interest in particular transportation areas and varying impact on residents.


ECON-CON: A Strategic Approach for Regional Economic Development

In response to emerging trends in business, government, technology and culture, economic development would most effectively be crafted at the metropolitan regional level. However, a problem exists as many regions, including Western Pennsylvania, lack the organizational infrastructure to pursue an economic development strategy to match the shared issues and interests of the region.

This brief explores one way that a region could organize to coordinating regional economic development by fostering collaborative networks within the urban cores.