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

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.”

Western PA Home Sales Up In 2016, So Far

Aug 19, 2016
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.

Flickr user Rob Boudon

The operators of southwestern Pennsylvania’s two casinos have both been fined by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control board.

Washington Trotting Association, which operates the Meadows Casino in Washington County, was fined $40,000 after allowing two men who have placed themselves on the state’s self-exclusion list to access the casino and gamble at table games and slot machines.

Doug Harbach is communications director of the Gaming Control Board and said more than 9,700 people have placed themselves on the self-exclusion list.

Jessica Kourkounis / NewsWorks

 

Concentrated poverty is growing across the country, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.

Since the recession, more people live in neighborhoods where at least 20 percent of residents fall below the poverty line. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Minimum starting salaries for entry-level positions at UPMC will jump from $11.73 an hour to $15 by 2021, officials announced Tuesday.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's minimum wage for tipped workers hasn't gone up in 17 years, but a group of service industry activists came together Thursday to recognize a Garfield bar for eschewing tips and paying its employees a higher base wage of its own accord.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Automation-driven manufacturing continues to lead steady economic growth in the Pittsburgh-region.  

An annual report released by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Thursday said advanced manufacturing in the 10 counties around the city are expected to see $2.9 billion in investments from deals made last year.

RAND Corporation

Middle-skilled natural gas and energy workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are getting old.

That’s according to a Rand study, which found that one-quarter of those workers, such as welders, industrial mechanics and engineers, were nearing the age of 55 and close to retirement. The study is the first of five annual reports aiming to assess student preparation for industry jobs.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is raising the minimum wage by nearly $3 an hour, to $10.15, for state government employees and workers on jobs contracted by the state.

The Democrat signed an executive order Monday establishing the new wage minimum. It'll affect a few hundred state employees and a narrow set of state contracts.

Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature hasn't considered Wolf's request to set the minimum at over $10 for everyone. 

Larkin Page-Jacobs / WESA

In the Monongahela Valley, communities that saw their economies boom with the steel and manufacturing industry in the last century continue to feel the bust from those industries’ decline. But as Pittsburgh’s economic position strengthens, many Mon Valley towns are looking for ways to spark their own revitalization, and zoning plays a key role in that endeavor.

Etsy

  The online marketplace Etsy is inviting Pittsburgh-area manufacturers to connect with its designers to help them produce on a larger scale.

Local manufacturers and designers – whether already affiliated with Etsy or new to the service – are welcome to attend Etsy Manufacturing Day, a free event from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 8 at the Energy Innovation Center at 1435 Bedford Ave. in the Hill District.

The Challenges Of Preserving Historic Hotels Of Pennsylvania

Feb 28, 2016
Hotel Bethlehem

 

The hotel industry is enjoying a boom time in Philadelphia.

New accommodations are under construction in what will be the city's tallest office tower, the Comcast Innovation & Technology Center; in what will be the state's highest residential building, the SLS building; and at other sites on the Penn and Drexel campuses, in Center City, and in Fishtown.

Some of the new hotels will adapt historic spaces, including the Family Court, Liberty Title and Trust, and the Willis Hale Building at Juniper and Chestnut Streets.

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