Economy & Business

Economy & Business news from 90.5 WESA.

These days it seems nearly everyone is trying to save money where they can. Energy provider Direct Energy says some people may not be aware that some everyday things in their homes are causing their electricity and gas bills to go up.

“An energy zombie is actually anything that mindlessly eats away at your energy bill,” said Direct Energy Spokeswoman Bethany Ruhe, “these are things you may already know about, you may not know about, but if you don’t pay attention to them – boom – you have higher electricity bills.” gas deal.mp3

<strong> UPDATED: 12:03 12/20/12 </strong>

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corporation announced it is selling its natural gas transmission business, Equitable Gas, to Peoples Natural Gas for $720 million. The deal also includes 200 miles of Pennsylvania pipelines and storage pools, and long-term commercial contracts for EQT to provide gas transmission and storage services to Peoples.

Gun Sales Up in PA

Dec 20, 2012

Pennsylvanians are lining up to buy firearms in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shootings, but dealers say gun owners' anxiety over a potential gun-control crackdown was driving up sales before the Sandy Hook massacre.

At Staudt's Gun Shop in Harrisburg, owner Joe Staudt says he sold out his usually large stock of semi-automatic weapons by Wednesday.

Dick's Suspends Some Gun Sales

Dec 18, 2012

Coraopolis-based Dick’s sporting goods has suspended sales of “modern sporting rifles” nationwide in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut.   Dick's Sporting Goods also said it is removing all guns from display at its store closest to Newtown.

Police say the 20-year old gunman fatally shot his mother in their home and then killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. He then killed himself.

Highmark To Open A Medical Mall in Wexford

Dec 13, 2012

You can walk into any gas station or grocery store and find an array of national-brand sodas. At Village Candy in Sewickely you will find a soda case – but you won’t find Pepsi, Sprite, or Mountain Dew. The small store stocks different sodas from around the world.

 “We have bacon soda, we have something called Leninade, we have black lemonade” said owner Doug Alpern.

Craft sodas aren’t quite on the same playing field as craft beers.

Abandoned industrial sites or "brownfields" across Pennsylvania could be key to the continued development of the state's natural gas industry, according to a trade group of businesses tied to the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation.

At a conference on brownfield redevelopment in Monroeville on Tuesday, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) said brownfield sites are not so much ideal for drilling as they are for large-scale industrial operations related to natural gas, including the processing of gas byproducts into plastics and other products.

PNC Halts Evictions

Dec 10, 2012

Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services is suspending evictions this holiday season. No one will be kicked out of foreclosed homes for which PNC is the investor.

“We hope this suspension provides families who are experiencing financial hardship some stability over the holiday season,” said PNC Mortgage CEO Saiyid Naqvi. 

The company is not releasing details on how many families this could impact but PNC spokesperson Fred Solomon said it could be a substantial number given that PNC holds mortgages “from coast to coast.”

Bell Ringing Endurance Test Begins Tuesday

Dec 10, 2012

The head of the Salvation Army’s worship and service center in Latrobe is planning a bell ringing endurance test. Lt. Ray Knous will pick up the familiar red kettle and bell Tuesday morning and he wont stop his fund raising effort for the next 30 hours.

Knous will start ringing at 9:00 AM at the Latrobe Wal-Mart on Route 30. He hopes to not only raise some spare change but also to promote the mission of The Salvation Army and elevate awareness for The Red Kettle Campaign. 

An Essential Pittsburgh public forum on maintaining our architectural heritage while cultivating new and sustainable development, recorded at the Community Broadcast Center on the South Side Wednesday November 28, 2012. Hear the audio and view the slide shows presented at the forum to the right and below.

Historic Preservation and Renovation in Pittsburgh

More Pennsylvanians complained about their utility service in 2011 than complained in 2010. However, the majority of them had a pleasant experience working with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to resolve their problems.

Walt Disney Corporation, Wal-Mart, Dish Network, and now Pittsburgh-based American Eagle Outfitters are just some of the many companies that have announced they are moving up their dividend payments.

American Eagle announced today they are moving up the payment of its first quarter dividend from April to December 28th.

Brian Koble, director of research at Hefren-Tillotson, an investment advisory and financial planning firm based in Pittsburgh, said companies are trying to take advantage of lower taxes on dividend payments this year. Fiscal CLiff PA.mp3

Salvation Army Already Behind

Nov 29, 2012

Bakery Square Expansion Moving Forward

Nov 26, 2012

The successful office and retail development of Bakery Square in Larimer is on track to gain more property and add buildings.

After a special zoning proposal for "Bakery Square 2.0" drew no opposition at a public hearing before Pittsburgh City Council on Monday, the legislation will come before council on Wednesday for a preliminary vote.

If the special zoning is approved, developer Walnut Capital could demolish the former Reizenstein Middle School in January to make way for new construction across the street from the current Bakery Square site on Penn Avenue.

Income Inequality a Growing Problem in Pennsylvania

Nov 26, 2012

Much like the rest of the nation, Pennsylvania has experienced a widening gap between the wages earned by low-income and higher-income people over the last decade.

Small Business Saturday

Nov 24, 2012 Local Feature_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

The Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is no longer in limbo.  The day sandwiched by two shopping frenzies provoked by large retailers is now “Small Business Saturday.” It’s an effort created by the federal government’s Small Business Administration.

Local Expert Predicts Ho-Hum Holiday for Retailers

Nov 23, 2012

A local marketing professor thinks national estimates for holiday sales are a bit inflated.  Duquesne University’s Audrey Guskey said while the National Retail Federation is looking for 4.1 percent growth over last year’s holiday sales, she is expecting a more modest 3.5 percent.

“With the economy being very tough we are going to see shoppers holding back a little bit and not spending as much,” said Guskey.  “So it will be a ho-hum holiday season.”

Some retailers made pre-Black Friday headlines by announcing they would begin their traditional sales Thursday evening.

Pittsburgh Ranked Best City For Veterans

Nov 23, 2012

Pittsburgh continues its reign as the “Most Livable City” but this time for military veterans. The USAA, a company offering banking, investing and insurance to people and families that served or serve in the military, ranked Pittsburgh as the number one city for veterans based on affordability and job and education opportunities.

Scott Hollowell, a certified financial planner for the USAA, said Pittsburgh met all of the criteria to be the best.

Chance of Economic Growth in PA Dim

Nov 22, 2012

The state’s nonpartisan economic analysis agency says Pennsylvania’s standing for the next five years isn’t looking particularly good.

Pennsylvania’s agency for nonpartisan economic analysis sees low revenue growth and high deficits in the commonwealth’s future. 

The Independent Fiscal Office is projecting just a zero-point-eight percent growth rate in revenue for the next fiscal year.

Keeping Pittsburgh Warm and Fed on Thanksgiving

Nov 21, 2012 Of Life Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

Light of Life will serve Thanksgiving dinner at its North Side mission on E. North Avenue Thursday from 1-6p.m.  to anyone in the community who wants to have a meal and will deliver meals to the elderly and disabled at 13 high rises in Pittsburgh.

More than 70% of tri-state area citizens see Marcellus Shale drilling as a chance to give the local economy a boost, but eight in ten residents believe drilling poses at least a slight threat to the environment and public health.

Turkey Dinner for the Underprivledged

Nov 19, 2012

Unemployment Agency: $300 million Hard to Track

Nov 19, 2012

Limited employer engagement, failure to identify and share best practices, and programs operating below capacity are only a few factors causing problems for those trying to help the unemployed in southwestern Pennsylvania.  The Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is conducting a survey of agencies that help the unemployed and will use the results to create a framework for Allegheny County.

PA Jobless Breaks Rising Streak as Payrolls Grow

Nov 17, 2012

Pennsylvania's jobless rate is down for the first time in six months as employers expanded their payrolls slightly in October.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent, as both overall employment and the number of people working or seeking work grew.

The national unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.

Pennsylvania's jobless rate had begun rising again after it dropped back to 7.4 percent from the recessionary peak of 8.7 percent in 2010.

Cardboard City To Highlight Homelessness

Nov 16, 2012

While Rome wasn’t built in a day, this cardboard city will be built and taken down in one.

Beginning at 6 p.m. today and ending at 6 a.m. Saturday, Somerset County will be home to this cardboard city, which will be located at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Somerset.

Roofs Over Our Families (R.O.O.F) will host the event as part of a series of activities for National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.

$50,000 Donated For Pittsburgh Homeless

Nov 13, 2012

Five Pittsburgh agencies are receiving $10,000 apiece to assist their homeless programs.

Citizens Bank announced the $50,000 contribution to five nonprofits:  Light of Life Ministries, Bethlehem Haven, Familylinks, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s Operation Safety Net, and Sojourner House.

Henri Moore, spokesperson for Citizens Bank, said these organizations were selected because of the variety of ways in which they help.

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund has awarded a total of $275,000 in community development grants to 12 neighborhoods in the North Side, West End and South Hills. The overall goal is to jumpstart development in communities that have experienced a long decline, but have not gotten improvement funds and resources like other areas of the city have received.

Pennsylvanians who purchased cigarettes online may have thought they were getting a good deal with cheaper prices, but the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue says the good deals might have come at the expense of breaking the law.  The Department reported nearly 23,000 residents did not pay state taxes on cigarette packs bought online and through the mail.

A state program designed to help low-income households with their energy bills has started accepting applications.

The Pennsylvania Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides grants especially in the winter months.

Donna Morgan, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, said the department is urging people to register early.