Economy & Business

Economy & Business news from 90.5 WESA.

Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

Oberg Industries’ tucked away buildings in Freeport, Pennsylvania are easy to miss.

But inside the nondescript structures are tidy rows of machinery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each. In one department, refrigerator-sized electric discharge machines, which cut metal using wire, sizzle away like cooking bacon. In another, workers operate manual machines. In one room a worker runs quality assurance using a high-tech instrument.

The Business of Breakfast (Why It's The Most Important Meal)

Jul 8, 2014
Wally Gobetz / Flickr

Breakfast is, as the saying goes, "the most important meal of the day," and businesses are really catching on.

Taco Bell has recently begun to offer breakfast choices, joining a long list of restaurants that seek to help you start your day in a tasty, if not exactly healthy way.

Business contributor, Rebecca Harris has some statistics that may make you, and food businesses, think twice about skipping breakfast.

Green Workplace Challenge Winners Announced

Jul 7, 2014

The results are in for the 2013-2014 Green Workplace Challenge, and seven local organizations have been honored for their environmentally friendly facility improvements.

FedEX Ground, DMI Companies, Pashek Associates, Allegheny County, the University of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, and Conservation Consultants Inc. received the highest scores in their various categories of competition.

Flickr user josepha

Pittsburgh has one of the most stable housing markets in the country, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by Zillow Real Estate on behalf of Bloomberg.com, listed Pittsburgh as having the second most stable housing market behind Buffalo. Louisville, Nashville and Raleigh rounded out the top five.

Analyzing housing prices from 1979 to the present, Zillow and Bloomberg used a five year rolling average to calculate changes in home prices to establish a risk of loss percentage.

Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife Dies at 82

Jul 5, 2014

Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon banking and oil fortune and a newspaper publisher who funded libertarian and conservative causes and various projects to discredit President Bill Clinton, has died. He was 82.

Scaife died early Friday at his home, his newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reported. Scaife's death comes less than two months after he announced in a first-person, front-page story in his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had an untreatable form of cancer.

The Business of the Barbecue (And Grilling)

Jul 1, 2014
Gepat / Flickr

This Friday is July 4th, and to commemorate the nation’s 238th birthday people across the country will march in parades, watch fireworks and, of course, fire up the grill.

Tons of hot dogs, burgers, steaks, and propane will be sold in the lead up to Independence Day, the biggest grilling day of the year. So it seemed to be an appropriate time to discuss the business of grilling with contributor Rebecca Harris.

Harris says that even though humans have been cooking meat for hundreds of thousands of years, backyard grilling didn’t truly become popular until the 1950’s. The sudden increase in popularity was spurred by the creation of suburbs, and the creation of the backyard grill.

UPMC and Highmark, A Confusing Truce

Jul 1, 2014
Life Mental Health / Flickr

The announcement of a five-year consent decree brokered by state officials seems to be bringing a truce between Highmark and UPMC. What exactly will the agreement mean for policy holders? State Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine highlights some of the major aspects of the decree to policyholders who may be experiencing some confusion with these “out of network” hospitals.

Some of UPMC’s most prominent hospitals are not in the network, included Magee Women’s Hospital. Commissioner Consedine says the largest issues surrounding the agreement are not which specialty hospitals will remain open in the network, but rather contingency of those already being treated by UPMC doctors, oncology care, and emergency services.

WorKing that Interview: How to Nail the Job

Jun 26, 2014
bpsusf / Flickr

The job interview can be one of the most nerve wracking experiences you’ll ever go through. Magazines and websites regularly run stories about how to answer questions, what mistakes to avoid, etc. In this month’s On the Job segment, independent career consultant Sasha King explains all you’ll need to know in order to nail the interview.

One of the most important things King mentions is for an interviewee to ask questions of the company. She calls it “auditioning the company” while they are in turn auditioning you for the job.

“The first question I usually have them ask is ‘What are your 30, 60 and 90 day goals for someone in this position?’ Why would you want to know that? It helps you, as a job seeker, to know what they expect of you in your first 90 days. But, it also sets a favorable impression with the interviewer that you plan on achieving certain things within the first 90 days, or know what the expectations are.”

The Business of Soccer

Jun 24, 2014
Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

Arguably the biggest sporting event in the world is currently taking place down in Brazil. The World Cup draws big numbers of television viewers across the planet, making it a great opportunity for companies looking to get their brand in front of a global market. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of soccer.

“It’s a widely viewed sport. It has a cumulative audience, in the 2006 figures that we looked at, 26 billion people watched it over a course of a month, with an estimated 715 million people watching the final match, which is 1/9 of the entire world’s population. When we talk about those numbers, automatically that translates into television advertising, sports apparel sponsorship, infrastructure building in the host country, think about what's been built in Brazil alone, it’s just remarkable. So this really is big business.”

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Hard hats and neon vests filled the Fifth and Wood intersection in downtown Pittsburgh Tuesday morning as construction workers placed the last beam on the Tower at PNC Plaza.

The project is far from complete. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the inside before 2,200 PNC corporate workers can fill the 33-story building, which will serve as the new headquarters. The project will be finished by mid-2015, according to Bill Demchak, PNC chairman, president and CEO.

Pennsylvania ranks 42nd among all states in job growth over the last 12 months according to the left-leaning Keystone Research Center.  However, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate for May was 5.6 percent,which was below the national rate of 6.3 percent, and better than 30 other states.

Stephen Herzenberg, the center’s executive director, said job growth in the commonwealth has been poor the last few years, but he acknowledged that the private sector created 15,600 jobs in the first four months of this year.

Building Ties Between Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico

Jun 20, 2014

Music can bring people together, but can it inspire people to travel almost 2,000 miles to find work in a new city?

16 Pittsburgh community organizations are sponsoring the appearance of Puerto Rican salsa band El Gran Combo at the JazzLive International Festival this weekend to launch a  project to promote Pittsburgh as a destination for Puerto Rican workers, especially professionals, migrating from the island to mainland U.S. 

Managing Money As A Couple

Jun 19, 2014
Nick Ortloff / Flickr

We’re in the midst of wedding season, and for many people, marriage is the first time they ever have to consider managing money with someone else in mind.

As Chairman and CEO of BPU investment firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, Paul Brahim helps clients make sound financial decisions to fit their lifestyle.

When it comes to couples, this can mean he has to be part adviser, part relationship therapist. Brahim helps couples manage money at all stages of life, and one of the largest groups he advises are those who are near retirement.

Brahim shared one experience where one spouse was a "hard-charging" corporate business man, who then found himself retired, and home all day with his wife. Brahim said the sudden extra time together was hard on the couple.

A recent report from the Brookings Institution shows that across the U.S. the geography of innovation is shifting dramatically, especially in larger cities. What is emerging are so-called innovation districts, geographic areas where companies, research institutions, start-ups and business incubators are located in close proximity.

As the national debate on immigration reform continues, local officials are examining the role immigrants play in helping communities grow.

Pittsburgh and other Rust Belt cities have struggled for years to grow the economy while the population continues to decline.

The partnership built between Allegheny General Hospital and the largest healthcare union in North America, SEIU Healthcare was praised Wednesday by United States Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez.

“This hospital, this health system, has rejected that false choice that you either take care of your bottom line or you take care of your workers or you take care of your patients,” said Perez as he visited AGH, “You can do all of those, and you have demonstrated it here.”

Global Great Lakes Conference Attracts Immigrants to Pittsburgh

Jun 10, 2014
Andy / Wikipedia Commons

A recent report by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that wages rise fastest in U.S. cities with the greatest influx of highly skilled immigrants. This could be one reason why a number of cities are looking to attract more immigrants to their municipalities.

Attracting and retaining immigrant populations will be the focus of the Global Great Lakes Conference taking place this week in Pittsburgh. Betty Cruz, Non-Profit and Faith Based manager for Mayor Peduto’s Office and Tom Buell, Director of marketing and Study Pittsburgh Initiative at Global Pittsburgh, provide an overview of this week’s conference.

Last year the Global Great Lakes conference took place in Detroit, one of the most active cities in the United States trying to attract immigrants. This year’s conference will be co-organized by Global Detroit, Vibrant Pittsburgh and GlobalPittsburgh. Buell has high hopes for how this conference may be a game changer for immigration reform and how immigration is received in Pittsburgh as a whole.

Keeping Ties In Their Place

Jun 10, 2014
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

Men’s fashion is famously static; while women’s fashion has changed greatly over just the past decade or so, men’s fashion really hasn’t changed that much over the past half-century. But every once and awhile, something catches on and changes the direction of men’s clothing. Local entrepreneur George Howard believes he has created that something.

His creation, called the Ziggi, is a small piece of cloth that attaches to a shirt’s buttons and goes through label tag, holding ties in place. Howard said that he created the Ziggi out of necessity: during a photo shoot last year, his tie would not stay in place.

Keeping the Business of Invention Alive in Pittsburgh

Jun 10, 2014

Inventors across the globe believe they’ve just created the Next Big Thing when they unveil their inventions, but few of these inventions are put into wide scale production and fewer still become the big thing their creators envisioned. The long odds do not discourage these inventors, and a sizeable amount of them will convene in Pittsburgh next week for the Invention & New Product Exposition (INPEX).

Business contributor Rebecca Harris stopped by to talk about what it takes to get an idea off the drawing board and onto the shelves. Harris explained why Pittsburgh’s culture of innovation makes it ideal for hosting INPEX.

“There is so much going on from technology to robotics to regular innovations and inventions. When you think of things like 4moms ... a lot of what they build is technology based on robotics ... and we’re also looking at also some inventions here in Pittsburgh helping to increase high-performance, high-quality 3D scanners at a fraction of the cost, and certainly so many inventions and patents are coming out of our universities every day, it’s quite remarkable.”

Growing popularity and the support of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto were not enough to prevent ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber from getting hit with five and six figure fines by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) last Thursday.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

  Like any English professor, Clint Benjamin spends a lot of his time grading papers.

“There’s a mountain – a teetering Matterhorn of papers at the end of the weekend, or during the week,” Benjamin said. “You’ve just gotta get through them.”

By his own estimate, Benjamin spends 30 to 40 hours a week on grading alone. He also has to attend meetings, answer emails, keep office hours, and commute between the Community College of Allegheny County and Duquesne University campuses, where in a typical week he prepares and teaches five sections’ of English and writing classes.

Older Unemployed Get New Opportunities

Jun 9, 2014

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for persons ages 55 and older has increased steeply since the 2008-09 recession. Many were laid off in favor of younger employees, who are more familiar with new technology, leaving older workers with obstacles to support themselves and their families.

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh is working to improve the lot of older, lower-income job seekers with the Mature Workers Program, which gives eligible workers on-the-job training for up to four years at local non-profits.

U.S. Steel Announces Layoffs, What May Have Caused the Problem

Jun 5, 2014
Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Illegal imports may be costing steelworkers jobs in Pittsburgh. U.S. Steel announced it is laying off 260 employees at tubular products plants in McKeesport and Belleville, Texas. United Steel Workers Union President Leo Gerard says unfair trade by foreign competitors is having a detrimental impact. Tom Conway, International vice president of US Steel Workers, commented about what he believes the government should be doing about the problem.

Dave Rezendes/Flickr

To say it’s been a rough year for automakers in the U.S. would be putting it mildly. Last year, 22 million cars were recalled, a number that has already been shattered by 2 million just five months into 2014.

General Motors has led the way with 13 million cars recalled, most due to a faulty ignition switch which has killed anywhere from 13 to 74 people. But they are hardly alone: Ford, Chrysler, and other companies have recalled millions of vehicles.

The recalls could be a painful blow to an industry that is still trying to work its way back from the recession. But Los Angeles Times business writer Jerry Hirsch explained why buyers shouldn’t worry about buying a new car.

As a junior business major at Elizabethtown College, Sarah Lanphier and her mother founded “Nuts About Granola,” a wholesome snack company in York, Pa. that buys local ingredients. 

Six years later, after impressive growth, “Nuts About Granola” is a perfect example of a small rural business poised to go global, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The Obama administration picked the Pittsburgh region Wednesday to launch an effort to boost exports and grow rural economies. 

Is Social Media Hindering the Business of Golf?

Jun 3, 2014
Easy Being Greener / Blogger

Golf has been described as a “good walk spoiled.”

The rise of Tiger Woods brought an increased interest in the sport along with a new generation of fans in the early part of the century. However, recent stories from CNN and Bloomberg news report a declining interest in the game.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris, director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, looks at the business of golf.

According to the National Golf Foundation, more than 400,000 players, mostly men, left the sport last year. This may be attributed to the wicked winter weather on the east coast delaying the start of the game.

Golf club and gear sales also declined due to the new technology being phased into the sport, which older players may be slower to pick up. But Harris believes that another form of technology has had a negative effect on the sport as well. 

U.S. Steel announced Monday it is idling its tubular manufacturing plant in McKeesport in early August, affecting 157 union employees.

The Pittsburgh-based company says it is also halting operations at a similar facility in Bellville, Texas, impacting 45 management and 215 rank-and-file workers combined at the two plants.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says federal investigators now believe all 62,000 of the hospital network's employees have had their personal information accessed by identity thieves who have used information from about 800 workers to file bogus federal tax returns.

UPMC last month believed only 27,000 workers were affected, but the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Friday that a memo to employees says "the scope may be larger than originally thought, potentially affecting every employee."

WorKing With Confidence: Keys to Success from Sasha King

May 28, 2014
BBC / Thinkstock

We often hear people say "fake it until you make it." What they’re faking is confidence. Evidence shows confidence is an important factor to succeed in business, especially for women.

Sasha King, independent career consultant, focused on some well known case studies to illustrate her point, such as the Dunning-Kruger Effect

"They have found that if they take men and women and they ask them to rate their abilities, men tend to overestimate their confidence while women tend to underestimate their confidence," said King "What we’re finding out is that in order for someone to be successful they need a slight sense of overconfidence in order to take the blows necessary to take chances and be successful overall.”

Two Historic Buildings Downtown To Be Renovated

May 22, 2014
Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

Two more historic buildings in Pittsburgh’s downtown are set to be restored to their original grandeur.

Mayor Bill Peduto announced the restoration of the so-called Skinny Building and the Roberts Jewelers building, both on Wood Street and Forbes Avenue.

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