Economy & Business

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

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.

Radioactive Scrap Metal Found In Beaver County Poses No Risk

Feb 26, 2016
Jon Dawson / Flickr

A Beaver County scrap metal facility has been temporarily shut down while the state investigates how radioactive materials there were put through a metal shredder.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection began its investigation of PSC Metals late Tuesday. Officials were alerted after metal that had been processed at the Beaver Falls facility and then shipped to three facilities in Ohio tripped a radioactivity monitor at one of the sites in Ohio.

Diana Parkhouse / Flickr

Southwestern Pennsylvania saw more real estate listings in sales at the opening of 2016 than it did the year prior.

According to a report by real estate agency West Penn Multi-List, 191 more homes were put up for sale in January 2016 (2,511) than in January 2015. It also saw 71 more homes sold this January (1,432) than a year earlier (1,361).

The report includes statistics from Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Crawford, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Mora McLaughlin / 90.5 WESA

More than a dozen vendors have scrambled to find new locations, as the Pittsburgh Public Market prepares to shut its doors at the end of the month. 

The market opened in its current Penn Avenue location in the Strip District in 2013, when it moved from the Produce Terminal on Smallman Street. 

Pittsburgh Public Market General Manager Rich Westerfield said the owner of the building decided not to renew the market's lease.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania is the first branch in the nation to take on a secondary venture with the goal of raising more capital.

Governor Tom Wolf / flickr

Pennsylvania unions bucked a national trend of stagnant growth this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Heinz / YouTube

Scores of hot dog costume-wearing dachshunds run through a grassy field while Harry Nilsson’s 1972 ballad “Without You” plays in the background.

What can’t they live without?

Heinz Ketchup of course. And mustard. And barbeque sauce, represented here by humans in condiment costumes. The dogs leap upon them, licking their faces while the announcer says, “It’s hard to resist great taste. Meet the Ketchups.”

Kraft Heinz has been trying to build buzz around their family of condiments with the hashtag #MeetTheKetchups.

U.S. Steel Shares Drop After Big 4Q Loss

Jan 27, 2016
AP

 

United States Steel Corp. on Tuesday reported a fourth-quarter loss of $999 million, reversing a profit a year ago, as revenue plunged 37 percent and the company blamed cheap subsidized imports for hurting the price of flat-rolled steel.

Pittsburgh-based law firm Reed Smith has cut 45 attorneys and an unspecified number of support staff employees.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the cuts are part of a restructuring of the firm's offices in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

The firm isn't saying where the layoffs have occurred.

The firm's Pittsburgh headquarters employs 250 of the 1,650 attorneys the firm employs worldwide.

Peduto Breaks With Obama On Trans-Pacific Partnership

Jan 13, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP

During his final state of the union address, Pres. Barack Obama once again called for support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who usually lines up politically with the president, said it is a bad idea.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated his desire for business-friendly legislation at a walkthrough of AlphaLab Gear in East Liberty on Thursday as part of his "Jobs that Pay" tour.

Saving Midcentury Modernist Buildings In PA Cities

Jan 4, 2016
Steve Bootay

 

At this time of year, everyone's thinking, "Out with the old, in with the new." Yet there's a growing appreciation for the not-so-old, and even a taste for what came before — specifically, the Cold War cool fashions and interior furnishings of the "Mad Men" era.

Esteem for the style of Midcentury Modern — the period between the 1930s and 1970s — is spreading to its architecture, an expression of postwar optimism and Space Age imagination, and its leading designers, many of whom were trained or practiced their art in Pennsylvania.

Momentum In Past Year A Good Sign For Economy In 2016

Dec 29, 2015
Linus Bohman / flickr

The U.S. economy is finishing 2015 on an upswing, according to Pittsburgh-based PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman and he thinks that will continue into 2016.

“Wages had been stalled at around 2- to 2.25-percent [growth]. We saw a little bit of an uptick in the later half of this year, and we think we will see a little faster, bigger gain in 2016,” Hoffman said.  “Maybe where wages rise … closer to 3 percent.”

401(K) 2012 / flickr

After a rough start in 2015, the nation's economy is set to end the year in a fairly strong position, PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman said.

“But it clearly was a mixed picture,” Hoffman said. “If you were in manufacturing, the global economy grew more slowly, the dollar was strong. If you were in energy, it was a bad year for you."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County is looking for development options for more than 150 acres of brownfield space surrounding a former steel yard in Rankin.

Work the Angles / Flickr

When North Carolina discontinued its film tax credit at the start of 2015, the television series Banshee - set in fictional Banshee, Pa. - moved production from that state to western Pennsylvania for its final season.

Local Manager: Don't Panic When The Fed Raises Rates

Dec 14, 2015
Save Money / flickr

The Federal Reserve is poised to do something it has not done in more than a decade — raise interest rates.

Despite the occasion, Aaron Leaman, chief investment officer with Pittsburgh-based Signature Financial Planning, is not recommending any rash changes. 

“This is not something that is a make or break thing for any average investor,” said Leaman. “If you are a long-term investor, looking to secure your retirement or fund your child’s education… one decision made by the fed on one day in December is not going to make or break your portfolio in either direction.”

Ron Reiring / Flickr

The Pittsburgh region continues to experience fewer bankruptcies than its benchmark peers – an example of its economic stability, according to Pittsburgh Today.

According to a new report released by the organization, Pittsburgh had 1,845 bankruptcies in the 2015 third quarter, which is lower than almost all 15 benchmark regions, with the exception of Charlotte, N.C. and nearly half of the benchmark average of 3,419.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council’s Wage Review Committee, spearheaded by Councilman Ricky Burgess, is recommending some of the region’s biggest employers increase their minimum wage.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie Mellon University student Cora Wang waited for a currywurst outside a gray office building just off of Second Avenue in South Oakland.

It was her first time there for class, and she said she was pleasantly surprised to see a mobile food cart on the premises.

“Because there’s nothing here,” she said with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Sandra Friedel cooked up sausages and ground meat patties on the small flat top grill, then topped them with veggies and homemade sauces, while her husband Dustin took orders.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

The Commonwealth's once-mighty manufacturing sector has been ailing for decades. But some industry leaders think the key to a massive comeback may be buried deep in the Marcellus shale.

"This new petrochemical-based manufacturing industry, which is waiting to be born, will be bigger than the economic impact of the drilling," said David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association. Between ethane-derived plastics and recent advances in additive manufacturing technology, Taylor sees potential for a manufacturing revival.

Jason Roth / Save Enright Parklet community group

East Liberty residents are calling for a public hearing on the future of Enright Parklet after the Pittsburgh Planning Commission voted last month to rezone the park and the adjacent property on which currently sits the Penn Plaza apartment complex.

Dion Hinchcliffe / Flickr

Stores and restaurants at the Pittsburgh International Airport will be open to the public for holiday shopping next month.

It'll be open to anyone, not just passengers, on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Bob Kerlik, Pittsburgh International Airport spokesman, said anyone hoping to attend the holiday open house must register with a government-issued photo ID.

Thomas Kohler / Flickr

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania residents lost more than $20.8 million to internet fraud in 2014.

This holiday season, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association is reminding people to be safe with their banking information when shopping with a credit card, whether online or in person.

LV Lights / Flickr

In Allegheny County, 22 hotels owe more than $790,000 in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.

The County Controller, working with the Treasurer’s office, conducted an audit uncovering the unpaid taxes.

Controller Chelsa Wagner said her office has an agreement with the Treasurer’s office, which collects the taxes, to take charge of more difficult audits such as this one.

Clotee Allochuku / Flickr

This year's Black Friday isn't expected to be much different from the previous year's. 

Last year, 87 million Americans went shopping on Black Friday, spending more than $1.5 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

Manayunk Bridge Reopens As A Trail And A Symbol Of A Changing Economy

Nov 12, 2015
The Manayunk Bridge reopened Oct. 30 to pedestrians and cyclists connecting Philadelphia's Manayunk neighborhood to Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County, Pa.
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Iconic. Ever since it opened in 1918, the Manayunk Bridge has been iconic, a symbol for its namesake section of Philadelphia.

"It's one of those things that's always been the symbol of Manayunk," says Kay Sykora, project director of the Destination Schuylkill River project at the Manayunk Development Corporation. 

PA Budget Scaffolding Is Set, But Swaying

Nov 11, 2015
Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

Legislative aides are beginning to hammer out the details of a state budget, now that top lawmakers and the governor have agreed on the general shape of the plan.  

The sprawling, tentative package includes a 1.25 percent hike in the state sales tax, a reduction in state retirement benefits for future hires and some kind of change to the state liquor stores.

The deal promises to be unwieldy.

Flickr

A new initiative will aim to reduce the number of jobless veterans in the region by coordinating existing job services for veterans with companies looking to hire.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Trib Total Media announced Tuesday that it will lay off more than 150 employees as it consolidates the Valley News Dispatch, (Greensburg) Tribune-Review and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

President and CEO of Trib Total Media Jennifer Bertetto said 153 full- and part-time employees from among the company's 1,100-person staff will be laid off, with another 91 layoffs possible if the newspapers The Valley Independent in Monessen and The Daily News in McKeesport aren’t sold in 60 days.

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