ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LEADERSHIP “The Mayor of Hell” John Fetterman, Braddock PA.


Economic Development Leadership –

Everyone wants it but not many have it!

Meet John Fetterman, one of the 27 “Brave Thinkers” designated in the November 2009 issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine.

Fetterman made the rounds of Indiana recently stopping at Notre Dame for a presentation at the Hesburgh Program in Public Service about Reimaging Post Industrial Towns.

Fetterman, first elected in 2006 chronologies efforts during his 1st and 2nd terms in office to “save” the distressed city Braddock Pennsylvania

Braddock in the thriving 50’s & 60’s had a population of about 30,000.  Today bankrupt, Braddock’s 75% African American residents  have a median household income of about $14,000 with 30% being unemployed.  Another interesting fact is 55% of the students have at some time been suspended from school.

Braddock, a one-time regional commerce center, lost all of its downtown businesses.  Median home prices now range about $5,000 with over 1,ooo once occupied, now vacant, home sites abandoned to city ownership.

Fetterman, a Harvard Public Policy graduate, came to Braddock to work with disenfranchised youth and adopted Braddock as home.

He uses the traditional menu of redevelopment tools coupled with a passion for success, repurposing buildings, artisan regentrification, anchoring a large-scale attraction, urban agriculture, homesteading and youth employment.

Two themes gathered from his presentation  important to all economic and community developers –

      “Poverty is equal opportunity punishment”

       “Better to do nothing than something that fails’

Interesting study of leadership – as Fetterman stated in his presentation “how does a white ‘biker looking due’  living in an African American community with severe social and poverty concerns rise to political leadership.”

Visit his web site  –

Chuck Eckenstahler

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