Economy & Business

Economy & Business news from 90.5 WESA.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

At its annual meeting Thursday, VisitPITTSBURGH highlighted some of the successes in tourism in the last couple of years.

The national group Tourism Economics releases data on the industry; 2012 numbers were recently released for Allegheny County.

Ben Gillin / Flickr

March Madness, Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four are some pretty popular terms at this time of year. But legal infractions are a common problem for businesses that try to capitalize on all of the championship hype without looking at the copyright issues.

Dave Radack, vice chair of the Intellectual Property Department and member of Eckert Seamans' Board of Directors, works with patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.

Three months until the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, Pennsylvania’s revenue collections are 0.5  percent short of estimates.

The Department of Revenue reports  through the first nine months of FY 13-14 it has collected  $20.5 billion — $96.3 million behind approximations — but spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said that number “disguises the fiscal reality.”

Corporate April Fool's Jokes Going Viral

Apr 1, 2014

Cheetos perfume, Taco Bell purchasing the Liberty Bell and American Beagle dogwear.

They’re all examples of corporations getting into to spirit of April Fool's. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of April Fools. 

The owners of Pittsburgh's minor league soccer team and the riverfront stadium in which they play have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Riverhounds Acquisition Group, L. P. owns the team and lists debts of between $1 million and $10 million in its petition. Riverhounds Event Center LP, which owns Highmark Stadium, has $7.2 million in mortgage debt, plus a $1.5 million bank loan and hundreds of thousands of dollars in other debts to smaller creditors.

Community Backed Micro-Lending Helps Homewood Indoor Bike Park

Mar 27, 2014
The Wheel Mill

Since the early 2000’s more than one million small businesses worldwide have been funded through the online micro-lending program known as

The loans help revitalize local economies and make it possible for the average person, rather than banks, to fund innovative ideas and businesses. 

Premal Shah, President and co-founder said Kiva is a non-profit that provides loans to many different people at 0% interest, often people who can't qualify for a bank loan.

Julian Routh / 90.5 WESA

When Tracy Carter was a member of corporate America, she daydreamed in her office about opening up her own hair salon.

She knew she was serious about her aspirations, but didn’t have the finances to jump start them.  

Rather than going to a bank for a loan, Carter found help from 95 donors on, a crowdfunding initiative that enables anyone in the world to lend money to small businesses.

Now, $5,000 later, Carter owns Shear Talent in Bethel Park.

401(K) 2013 / Flickr

With less than a week until the healthcare enrollment deadline, and tax season underway, Judith Herron, a CPA with Markovitz-Dugan and Associates in Green Tree explains how the Affordable Care Act will impact filing.

How will the Affordable care Act impact individuals?

Flickr user pennstatenews

Advanced manufacturing is picking up in the Pittsburgh region, more jobs are requiring technology skills and the financial and businesses services sector is greatest contributor to the gross regional product.

Those are just some of the takeaways from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance’s seventh annual economic development performance scorecard and “Wins Day” Wednesday.

The alliance is the marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference for Economic Development and is charged with the task of marketing the Pittsburgh region to businesses and workers alike.

HUD Funding Assists Public Housing Maintenance

Mar 23, 2014

As part of a $1.8 billion assistance package from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Allegheny County Housing Authority and Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will receive nearly $20 million to improve public housing units.

The awards, $4.1 million to the ACHA and $13.2 million to the HACP, are to be used to modernize, build, repair and renovate public housing developments.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate continued its rapid drop in February, while employer payrolls inched up and the labor force grew after a 14-month skid.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.2 percent last month. It was last at that mark in 2008. The national rate was 6.7 percent in February.

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say the West Penn Allegheny Health System has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to settle claims that it violated the law by offering doctors below-market rents so the physicians would refer patients to the network's hospitals.

A spokesman for West Penn says the settlement grew out of a self-audit and voluntary report made to federal officials, which was confirmed by U.S. Attorney David Hickton, who announced the settlement. The allegedly illegal activity began in the mid-2000s, with most of it occurring between 2008 and 2012.

The Business of French Products

Mar 18, 2014,_September_2010.jpg

This week, contributor Rebecca Harris looked at the connection French businesses and products have to our commercial sector.

France is the sixth largest foreign investor in the Pittsburgh region, with 27 French-owned companies that operate about 50 establishments in the area.

Here are some Pittsburgh businesses with a French connection:

Marc Moss / flickr

Once home to the nation’s leading tire manufacturers, Akron, Ohio, was hit hard by post-industrial layoffs, factory closings and a steadily declining population.

Like other rust belt cities, the once-rubber giant has had to redefine itself and its industry.

In his book The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt, author David Giffels chronicles past glories and the present condition of his home state. 

While the overall casino revenue for February decreased 5 percent, the Pennsylvania table games had a bit more luck.

Table games at the commonwealth’s 12 casinos grossed $57.1 million this year — a 3.25 percent increase over February 2013.

However, Richard McGarvey, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman, said this increase is not that impressive at second glance.

Flickr user wcn247

Preliminary jobs numbers released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show virtually flat job growth for the Pittsburgh region in 2013, adding just 400 jobs for the year.

Pittsburgh TODAY, a nonprofit research organization housed at the University of Pittsburgh, compared the seven-county Pittsburgh region to other similar metropolitan areas across the Midwest and East Coast, and found that the Steel City fared worst in terms of job growth.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has announced his office will perform audits of five healthcare research programs across the state including, Pittsburgh’s Magee-Women’s Research Institute and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The Business of St. Patrick's Day in America & Ireland

Mar 11, 2014
Katherine Blackley / 90.5 WESA

From parades to shamrocks and the wearin’ o’ the green you see a lot of people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Pittsburgh. But how does the U.S. celebration of this holiday differ from Ireland’s?

Anne Flynn Schlicht, Assistant Director at the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University and a native of Cork, Ireland, discussed the business of St. Patrick’s Day.

The region’s real estate market in February tumbled compared to the same time in 2013, but many who keep track of the market say a lot of that dip had to do with the weather.

“Look at what we experienced last year in early spring, great weather, everybody was out and about,” said Barbara Kohl, West Penn Multi-List Chief Operating Officer. “This year it was total devastation, freezing rain, sleet, tons of snow. It’s really tough to get people motivated and moving to go out to open houses, and even look at homes, when the weather is so bad.”

Gary Brownell / Flickr

What can small cities learn from each other?

This was the question Andy Cutler answered when he created the Smaller Cities Unite program. Cutler is the driving force behind a movement to connect smaller cities throughout the world.

Thomas Buell, director of marketing at Global Pittsburgh, believes that Cutler’s program can also improve the sister city program that Pittsburgh has with several cities.

From King Cake to Fish Fry, the Business of Lenten Season

Mar 4, 2014
Rmhermen / wikipedia

It’s Fat Tuesday, or as it’s known in New Orleans, Mardi Gras.

This celebration prior to Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) is celebrated in high style with beads, baked goods and more.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris explained the business and significance of Fat Tuesday and the religious season of observance.

Pennsylvania’s coffers continue to be not as full as state officials anticipated. For a third straight month, revenue collections were lower than expected. 

According to the Department of Revenue, Pennsylvania pulled in $1.6 billion in funds in February which was 2.1 percent below projections. For the first eight months of the fiscal year, total revenues are 0.5 percent less than estimates.

Update 12:07 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters organized by the Service Employees International Union have left the area outside the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's offices downtown, after Mayor Bill Peduto issued a statement asking them to "disband" and "return home."

Peduto's statement indicates he's cutting short a Washington, D.C. trip to return to Pittsburgh Tuesday and hopes to "resolve these conflicts."

Pittsburgh’s rivalry with Philadelphia is older than most can remember, and this year, Pittsburgh has something else to brag about.

According to a new ranking, Pittsburghers are better at saving money. released a ranking of America’s 100 most populated cities and found that Pittsburgh is ranked 54th. While Pittsburgh might not have even been in the top half, it was at least ranked higher than 92, which is where Philadelphia landed.

The planned $201 million facility that will house Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business has received a major investment from a world-renowned venture capitalist.

James Swartz, an alumnus of the business school, and his wife, Susan, gifted $10 million to the university to help fund the David A. Tepper Quadrangle.  The Quadrangle, a 4.5-acre expansion of the university’s north campus, will include a 295,000 square-foot facility on Forbes Avenue that will be home to the business school, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and The Simon Initiative.

Courtesy of PNC

The glass skin is starting to be installed on Pittsburgh’s newest skyscraper, and Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Group says it will help make the building more energy efficient in the long run and is helping to grow the local economy in the short term.

The so-called "curtain wall" is actually two layers of glass held in place by steel and recycled wood in a manner that creates what might be best described as a massive storm window.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh has been working with businesses in the region for 20 years. Its annual report was released Wednesday at Turner Dairy Farms, one of the members of the institute.

Founder and Executive Director Ann Dugan said in 2013 the institute helped about 900 entrepreneurs.

“We had 47 startup businesses,” Dugan said. “That was where they came through the door with an idea, today their door is open, the lights are on, music is on, they have sales.”

The Business of Gluten Free

Feb 25, 2014
Gregory Kallenberg

One of the newest food trends in recent years is an increase in gluten-free products. From grocers' shelves to bakeries, you're finding them everywhere. Contributor Rebecca Harris looks at gluten free products in this week's business segment.

The market for gluten-free is growing, and it took second place in Time Magazine’s top ten food trends in 2012.

The Girl Scouts have introduced a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie, and many people are just avoiding gluten in general.

A New Intern's Guide to Professional Wear

Feb 25, 2014

With the spring semester underway, many Pittsburgh college students are involved with internships. The transition from a closet full of T-shirts and yoga pants can be a hard one, so here are a few tips to start putting together a professional wardrobe.

1. Professional clothes can be expensive, so shop around.

Why You Should Keep a Career Journal

Feb 24, 2014
Jacob Bøtter / Flickr

Many people keep personal journals to document important moments or help organize their thoughts. However, many people do not keep a career journal.

Sasha King, an independent career consultant, believes that career journals are useful tools.

“Career journaling is looking at your work life and looking at what you’re doing everyday on the job, what your goals are, or if you need to take some kind of a career transition,” she said.