Urbani izziv Volume 23, No. supplement, July 2012
James T. Hathaway
Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, USA
Geographical Dynamics of Environmental Service Firms at Metropolitan and National Scales in the United States: The Case of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A close look at Pittsburgh’s environmental service firms in recent decades provides insight into the locational dynamics and trends of the United States environmental industry and insight into forces underlying this broad ranging sector of the economy. For my purposes, I place environmental services into two categories of producer services: professional services (e.g., environmental consulting or engineering) and environmental contractors (e.g., remediation, emergency response) while the third category lies in the realm of consumer services: operation and maintenance services (e.g., waste collection, treatment and disposal). I will provide portraits of these businesses by describing their revenues, employment, labor characteristics, clientele, and overall nature. My sources of information include trade publications and business databases, census data, content from firm websites, and personal interviews. I use a political economy perspective 1) to illuminate the forces affecting the locational dynamics and evolution of environmental service firms at metropolitan, national, and global scales and 2) to see what an analysis of environmental firms can contribute to debates on such processes as agglomeration and dispersal, outsourcing, the changing regulatory environment, and the “greening” of industry. Large manufacturing job declines have stimulated a move in the Pittsburgh area toward the environmental sector, but some environmental service industries have had turbulent trajectories. Pittsburgh’s environmental service firms have benefited from the region’s long history of struggling with environmental issues and by national trends including the public sector’s retreat from the provision of services and the “greening” of industry.
environmental services, producer services, locational dynamics, political economy, Pittsburgh, USA