Economy & Business

90.5 WESA explores the regional economy, as well as covering the issues that ordinary Pittsburghers face in their working lives.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Hazelwood’s Almono site has its first a street – well, kind of.

Developers of the environmentally contaminated site, which is planned to become a hub for new housing, young workers and tech businesses, just got the money needed to finish its first infrastructure project. The three foundations that own the site, the Heinz Endowment, Richard King Mellon Foundation and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation received a $9.5 million loan needed to finish the site’s first completed street.

T-Mobile Fined $48M Over Slowing 'Unlimited' Data Plans

Oct 19, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

T-Mobile, the country's No. 3 wireless carrier, will pay $48 million for not clearly telling customers how "unlimited" data plans weren't really, well, unlimited.

The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that T-Mobile had a policy to slow down the speeds of customers who were the heaviest data users. But the company didn't let customers know how much data used would trigger the lower speed.

The FCC says T-Mobile started doing a better job with disclosures in June 2015.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

About 15 years ago, most chambers of commerce would likely say cutting edge corporate research was happening in suburban business parks, according to Bruce Katz, a centennial scholar at the Brookings Institution.

But that same research today is more often happening in urban locations.

Katz called those new urban research cores “innovation districts.”

A collection of mayors from across the country stopped in Pittsburgh Monday to explore ways to grow their own innovation districts using the Steel City as a model.  

PA Towns Fear Financial Devastation After Top Court Decision Cutting Casino Tax Revenue

Oct 10, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt a bad hand to communities that host casinos.

Municipalities including Chester City, Bensalem Township and Erie County stand to lose millions in revenue after part of the state's gambling code was declared unconstitutional on Wednesday.

Mount Airy, LLC, a small casino in Mount Pocono, sued the state Department of Revenue, arguing that the gambling code's "local share assessment" provision unfairly burdened some casinos.

Lawmakers On Spot To Revive Intensely Political Casino Tax

Oct 2, 2016
Cliff / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are on the spot to revive intensely political provisions for local governments and institutions to share casino revenue.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says the Legislature could vote as early as October to pass a new revenue formula that's designed to pass constitutional muster.

But the Allegheny County Democrat says it'll surely take longer and become more complicated if lawmakers widen their focus to include an expansion of casino gambling or to change the distribution of the local casino revenue.

How The Steel Industry Uses Billions Of Gallons Of Pennsylvania Water

Sep 30, 2016
Sarah Collins / PublicSource

Atop a forested hill in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, the smells of cooked coal and hot steel blend over the molten glow of a blacksmith forge.

That’s the work station for blacksmith Dennis Gilkey, a wiry 66-year-old with neatly cropped white hair and a bushy mustache. He was a farrier for 25 years, the work that coiled his fingers with arthritis. Gilkey began learning the blacksmith trade in 2001. It is less taxing on his body than shoeing horses, he says.

Andy Boenau / Flickr

 

More than in any other major Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh’s young adults are living on their own instead of moving in with mom and dad.

Pittsburgh ranked 13th out of America’s 600 largest cities for the percentage of young adults aged 18 to 34 living alone, according to new data released Thursday in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-year American Community Survey. Pittsburgh also ranked 45th in terms of the percentage of young adults living with roommates.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review will produce its last print edition and become a free, digital-only publication, the paper’s parent company announced Wednesday.

Print operations will cease Nov. 30. The company's Pittsburgh newsroom will continue publication online from its North Shore offices led by senior editors Luis Fabregas, Jeremy Boren and Rob Amen.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

 

A federal appeals court has reversed an earlier ruling clearing the way for a proposed merger between PinnacleHealth System and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction sought by the Federal Trade Commission and Pennsylvania attorney general's office.

Hershey and Pinnacle said in a joint statement Tuesday that they were disappointed and would carefully review the decision.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A law requiring businesses in Pittsburgh to give workers paid sick leave has been tied up for nearly a year in the courts, so a workers advocacy group is taking the fight directly to restaurant owners.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Affordable housing advocacy groups rallied downtown Tuesday, urging people to attend Wednesday’s City Council public hearing on a proposed Housing Opportunity Fund.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

The state agency that regulates taxicabs and transportation businesses in Pennsylvania says it doesn't have jurisdiction over free trips in self-driving cars being offered by Uber, but it will once the company starts charging. 

State Starts Deciding On More Than $1B In Delayed Redevelopment Assistance Requests

Sep 12, 2016
Emily Previti / WITF

 

Nearly 400 agencies are waiting to hear from a long-standing, occasionally controversial grant program months past when they’d normally get word.

State officials have funneled more than $5 billion through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program since its inception in 1986. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

In Pennsylvania, seven out of 10 workers don't have a college degree. That's a demographic that has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and wage declines since the 1980s. 

Justin Wier / 90.5 WESA

Rich Lattanzi said he never aspired to be the mayor of Clairton.

He worked as a pipe-fitter for U.S. Steel, but serving as an athletic director for the basketball program at a local Catholic school and working as a baseball coach brought him into contact with the city’s youth. He voiced some concerns at a city council meeting and someone told him they could use him in the mayor’s office.

“I said, ‘I don’t know anything about politics,’” Lattanzi said. “And I remember the guy said, ‘Exactly, that’s what we need.’”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Democratic Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Candidate Katie McGinty rolled out her jobs creating package Wednesday during a stop in Pittsburgh.

She said manufacturing jobs are a part of Pittsburgh’s past, but also need to be a part of its future.

“The cutting edge of manufacturing is not about cheap labor,” McGinty said while standing in front of the “Industry” mural at the Allegheny County Courthouse. “It’s about skilled labor, plus technology, plus speed to market.”

John Bazemore / AP

  

Western Pennsylvania home sales were up in the first seven months of 2016.

A new report from West Penn Multi-List indicates that sales were up 2.2 percent between January and July. Though it’s an overall positive sign, there’s also a downside said Ron Croushore, President of West Penn Multi-List and owner and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.

“The negative there is there is not enough inventory,” Croushore said. “We need more homes for people to look at.”

Advocates For Needy Urge Changes To PA Welfare System

Aug 18, 2016
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

  Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, an advocacy group that works with low-income families, is calling for Pennsylvania to overhaul the way it administers its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the state's welfare system, saying that it's "shredding" people's chances to dig out of deep poverty.

Steel's Decline Was About Technology, Not Trade

Aug 12, 2016
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

“American steel,” Donald Trump intoned while laying out his economic plan in Detroit yesterday.  “Steel! American steel!  We'll send new skyscrapers soaring all over our country.  We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation.”

Hortlander / Flickr

In 2010, at the height of the recession, the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center saw a spike in demand for its welding program, so officials added a late-night session. 

The 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. class booked quickly, but was only offered the one year.

Now the school is seeing demand for the class spike again and will offer midnight welding in the fall.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

On a windy June day, Don Smith is proudly giving a tour of a former Jones and Laughlin steel mill site in Pittsburgh. 

Jon Dawson / Flickr

With Pennsylvania natural gas production slowing in the last year and a half, money generated by the state’s Act 13 impact fee in 2015 fell by nearly 20 percent compared to the year before. That drop means most counties and municipalities hosting the gas wells will see smaller checks when they are sent out this month than they did last year.

Greene County Commission chair Blair Zimmerman said when he saw that the county would be getting $3.9 million this year compared to $4.5 million last year, he had to pick himself up off the floor, but for the reason one might think.

Shell Finalizes Plan For Beaver Co. Plastics Plant

Jun 7, 2016
Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The oil giant Shell on Tuesday gave the final go-ahead for construction of a major petrochemical complex in western Pennsylvania where ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shales will be used to make ethylene for the manufacture of plastics.

The long-awaited multi-billion-dollar plant will be built in Potter Township, Beaver County, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Shell said in a statement from its unit, Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is one paw closer to welcoming its first cat café. 

Black Cat Market co-founders Olivia Ciotoli and Indigo Baloch passed their Kickstarter fundraising goal of $20,000 with help from more than 686 backers by early Thursday. Donations earned rewards like logo stickers, free drinks and travel mugs. 

Ciotoli said she can’t believe how much interest it’s gotten. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Oxford Development Company’s apartment project for the Strip District, The Yards at 3 Crossings, will have hundreds of people living about 100 feet from the south bank of the Allegheny River as early as this year. 

Daveynin / Flickr

Fifteen community projects in Pennsylvania are being funded by the state’s Keystone Communities program, Gov. Tom Wolf announced today. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  A few blocks from where City of Asylum writers live and work during their residency, is the former Masonic Building. The organization is redeveloping that building into a permanent home for staff. The 9,000-square-foot building will also serve as a venue for the artists’ events.

For the past decade, writers exiled from their native countries have lived in housing on Sampsonia Way. Board member and poet Toi Derricotte said that street became a sanctuary for writers to continue their work.

Inflection Point / Allegheny Conference on Community Development

A new report from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development predicts a workforce shortfall of 80,000 employees in the Pittsburgh region in a decade.

The study recommends greater efforts to attract and retain recent college graduates, and more collaboration between employers and educators to train future workers for the projected job market.

nps.gov

The National Park Service celebrates its centennial Aug. 25 and more people are making a point to visit. 

A new report shows that 9.9 million people who stopped at Pennsylvania’s 19 national parks and historic sites spent $453 million dollars last year. That’s an increase of 14.7 percent from a year earlier, but still five percent lower than 2013.

Keith Newlin, deputy superintendent for the National Park Service in Western Pennsylvania, said 31 percent of the revenues came from lodging.

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