Mike's teasing out the inevitable tension between the two: "A "City of Pittsburgh first" approach to regional policy threatens to perpetuate the zero-sum thinking that often dominates regional economic developments efforts. If the City grows, the suburbs lose."
It's easy to see (from 100,000 feet) that a better model for City/Suburb relationship is not one of victim and parasite, but one of symbiosis. Picture the region as a hunk of lichen: fungus and algae mutually supporting one another, and, should either one die, the other would not be able to support itself. To draw out the analogy, the City specializes in the jobs, higher education, culture, entertainment and sports, while the Suburbs specialize in housing, primary education, and small retail.
The theory, however, does not necessarily work in practice. Indeed, the City has its own needs for housing, primary education, and small retail, and suburbs have their own needs for jobs and entertainment. Moreover, the suburbs are competing for housing, retail, and jobs amongst themselves. Municipal policy decisions that are made are not made with view to the entire organism (the region), but rather independently and, as Mike notes, as a zero-sum game.
Of course, the problem is that the first municipality to stop playing the game will be the first to lose; politicians need to raise tax revenue so they can bring in more jobs so they can get votes so they can be re-elected so they can do more projects to increase population to raise more tax revenue so they can bring in more jobs, etc., etc. Municipalities (and elected officials) that are unable to raise revenue through population or revenue through employment, start spiraling down the drain.
But, if the City of Pittsburgh invests in a multimillion dollar corporate center, with the view to increase a corporate presence in the region (rather than just slosh jobs around), surely it is not just the City that benefits. Indeed, not everyone is going to want to live in the City and there will be some "leakage" to the surburban communities... a positive externality, if you would.
So I guess the question really is, can the suburbs win by losing, that is, if suburban developments can be positioned in support of larger City development, then would the suburbs benefit with, but not at the City's expense?
Or would that take too much coordination?