Economy & Business

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

With an estimated 850,000 holiday celebrants heading into downtown Pittsburgh this weekend for Light Up Night and the carryover events Saturday, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is hoping to generate as much revenue as possible for its members. 

Duquesne University marketing professor Audrey Gusky predicts shoppers will leave about $20 million downtown this weekend, which is much more than it has been in the past.

“If you can believe it this is the 54th annual Light Up Night, and it has really blossomed and changed over the last 50 years,” Guskey said.

Flickr user Jorge Castro

An administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday issued his decision regarding allegations of labor violations at UPMC. The 123-page document recounts the minute details that led to the discipline or firing of eight workers at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside.

Global Entrepreneurship Week

Nov 18, 2014
Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

 

Entrepreneurship has become the new American dream. However, this business concept isn’t strictly American, as evidenced by this week being designated Global Entrepreneurship Week. Contributor Rebecca Harris joins us for a look at the worldwide growth in entrepreneurship.

Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) will no longer disqualify Pennsylvanians from receiving a tax rebate if their annual earnings were pushed over the income ceiling as a result.

The Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program, which gives money to many older and disabled Pennsylvanians on a fixed income, had to adjust to COLAs or else individuals would be unfairly disqualified, according to Pennsylvania Department of Revenue spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell.

The ride-sharing service Uber has won conditional license approval across the state, including Pittsburgh.

The two-year experimental service will only go into effect if Uber meets a number of conditions laid out by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission within the next 30 days. One of those conditions is that Uber drivers get insurance coverage for all three stages of their customer interactions: making themselves available via the Uber app, connecting with a passenger and dropping the passenger off at his or her destination.

Those hoping to lure a $2.5 billion ethane cracker plant to Beaver County got a boost this week when Shell Chemical LP exercised its land-option on an industrial site near Monaca.

The company has been evaluating the land owned by the Horsehead Corporation for more than two years.  If built, the company expects to use the facility to process gas pulled from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations into ethylene. Ethylene is used as a building block for a long list of every-day products including drink bottles, detergents and adhesives.

Neighborhood Business: Greenfield

Nov 4, 2014
KitAy / Flickr

  

Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. Beginning today, on the first Tuesday of each month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is on Greenfield.

Most people are expected to stay at a job for about four and a half years, and yet millennials have been labeled as job hoppers, for leaving jobs much sooner. A new survey conducted by job placement company, Express Employment Professionals, found that recent college graduates stay in their first jobs on average for 7 months to a year.

Energy, Gas Industries Focus of CCAC Partnership

Oct 31, 2014

In an effort to attract more people to jobs in the oil and gas industries, the Community College of Allegheny County has partnered with the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) to provide hands-on training and workforce development programs.   

Educational programs will be offered at the new EIC Institute in the Hill District, CCAC president Quintin Bullock said. The Center will open in January.  The collaboration between CCAC and the center officially began this week with the signing of a memorandum.

The Business of Artisanal Cheese

Oct 28, 2014
Alex Proimos / Flickr

Artisanal cheese is becoming the latest food trend. Much like craft beers, people are using local ingredients to make their own cheeses. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of artisanal cheese.

Sasha King Offers Tips for Crafting a Riveting Resume

Oct 27, 2014
Flazingo.com / Flickr

While there are new methods for job searching in today’s economy two things remain constant. You need a good cover letter and resume. This month independent career consultant Sasha King is here with tips for creating riveting resumes that will get you noticed.

Rezscore.com

Resunate.com

For more on resume building, read Sasha's article here

 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has gotten a lot of attention from Hollywood in recent years, with several high-profile films and television shows being shot here. With the help of a new film complex in McKees Rocks, the hope is that the industry will continue to expand.

“We announce the groundbreaking for the region’s first built, newly constructed, multi-stage complex for production of TV shows, commercials and feature films,” said Mike Dolan, president of Island Studios.

While the rate of job growth in Pennsylvania sits dead last among states in the U.S., the numbers in Pittsburgh are a bit more optimistic, according to recent studies by the Keystone Research Center and PittsburghTODAY.

The Greater Pittsburgh area added 7,500 jobs from September 2013 to September 2014, a 0.6 percent increase. Pennsylvania, ranked 50th for job growth since January 2011, lost 9,600 jobs in September alone.

Coping and Investing in a Volatile Market

Oct 21, 2014
Perpetual Tourist / Flickr

The American economy has experienced gradual improvements in the 6 years since the 2008 market collapse. But for many investors, memories of those economic losses are still raw.

Throughout the last month, the volatility of global politics has affected the stock market with disconcerting spikes and dips.

Financial planners such as Paul Brahim, Chairman and CEO of BPU investment firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, are faced with concerned investors who want to know what they’re in for. He joins us to talk about the causes of the latest market volatility and how best to react.

The Business of Fair Trade with Rebecca Harris

Oct 21, 2014
12 5 12 Ten Thousand Villages POTD - Penn State / Flickr

Fair trade is a win-win proposition for nations and their citizens. According to contributor Rebecca Harris there’s a great deal of it available here in the city. This week Ms. Harris looks at the business of fair trade. Harris explains that fair trade means there’s an ethical partnership between consumers and producers around the world intended to create equity.

Principles include a minimum price for farmers’ goods, pre harvest credit, fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic and transparent organizations, avoiding chemicals and GMOs, and so on. The latest trends in fair trade, Harris explains, include stores like Ten Thousand Villages, more fairtrade products in mainstream apparel stores, and so on. But in order for the fair trade movement to grow, consumer demand needs to expand. 

The Pittsburgh region is at the top of a list of similarly-sized metro regions when it comes to home ownership. That’s according to a report from Pittsburgh Today, a nonprofit research organization housed at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Among our 15 benchmark regions, the homeownership rate in Pittsburgh is the highest of all the regions,” said Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today, “and homeownership is a general sign of stability, investedness in the place that you live.”

The Future of Pittsburgh's Volunteer Economy

Oct 17, 2014
ccbarr / Flickr

Pittsburgh is home to 7,500 non-profit organizations and about 300,000 people work in the sector. Many of these organizations also rely on volunteers in order to fulfill their missions. In recent years, for-profit businesses have increased their reliance on volunteer labor as well.

Peggy Outon, Executive Director of Robert Morris University’s Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, joins us to make sense of the volunteer economy, and talk about the future of volunteering.

The Business of Halloween Candy

Oct 14, 2014
Rebecca Harris / WESA

If you’re trying to avoid sweets, October may not be the best month to test your resolve. With Halloween right around the corner, contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of candy.

Corporations large and small, along with service providers, local activists, leaders and education officials are gathered in Pittsburgh for the first Disability Employment Summit, sponsored by the PNC Financial Service Group.

“Knowing that there’s a high unemployment rate with people with disabilities in this region,” said Amanda Snow, with PNC, “there are a number of opportunities and current openings, so how do we match those up?”

The 10 colleges and universities that make up the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) represented approximately 32 percent of the city’s gross domestic product in FY 2012-13, according to a report released by PCHE.

“We have contributed close to $9 billion into the regional economy and we’re supporting more than 70,000 jobs in the City of Pittsburgh, which is one out of every four jobs,” said Paul Hennigan, PCHE chair and president of Point Park University.

After a particularly rough winter, the real estate market in southwestern Pennsylvania began to heat up this summer, and according to a September report from the West Penn Multi-List, Inc., the numbers are continuing to strengthen.

The number of new home listings in September (3,327) increased 8.83 percent in comparison to the number from September 2013. Residential homes placed under agreement and average home sale price also increased, a sign that houses are moving and the market is healthy.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Corbett announced Friday that U.S. Steel is keeping its headquarters in Pittsburgh and expanding its Mon Valley Works operation.

The announcement came as state officials fanned across Pennsylvania to mark National Manufacturing Day.

U.S. Steel employs some 4,300 people in the Pittsburgh region. In an effort to keep them headquartered in the steel city, Corbett says the state has committed up to $30.7 million in grants for expansions and improvements.

The Impact of Partner Violence in the Workplace

Oct 2, 2014
Michael Lokner / Flickr

October is domestic violence awareness month. NFL players, domestic violence and how the league is addressing the issue has been garnering a lot of headlines. These stories also exemplify how domestic violence can spill over into the workplace.

We’ll look at the impact this deadly issue has on places of employment with Patricia Cluss, a psychologist and the director of Standing Firm, which educates employers about the cost of partner violence in the workplace.

Cluss, who favors the term “partner violence” rather than “domestic violence,” emphasizes that such violence has significant implications for work life, but because of the sensitivity of the issue, many people try to avoid the issue. 

Future Fair: Tips to Finding the Right Career Path

Oct 2, 2014

The once traditional path of graduating from high school, going to college or work and getting on with your life is no longer the standard way of doing things.

Students today face a number of challenges when it comes to determining a life-path. How to make better informed decisions in a changing educational and economic marketplace is the goal behind the Future Fair.

We’ll learn about this upcoming event from State Representative Dan Miller and Gene Natali Jr., author of the financial planning book "The Missing Semester." Miller stresses that Future Fair is about pairing young people up with good choices for their future -- especially choices that will allow them to remain in SWPA.

Small business owners in southwestern Pennsylvania are on the whole optimistic about the region’s economy, and more than a third of them expect to see their sales increase in the coming quarter.  The projection comes from the latest PNC survey, which looks not only at Pennsylvania but also at the other areas where the bank has operations.

“Pennsylvania small businesses continue to increase their plans to hire over the next six months,” said PNC Economist Kurt Rankin.  Twenty percent of those surveyed plan to add new full-time employees.

Ground has been broken for the fourth building at the Pittsburgh International Business Park in Moon Township.

The new building, on Cherrington Parkway, has no announced tenants yet, but that’s not a concern, said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“We broke ground over the last couple of years on three of them that are now full,” he said. “They are full with tech companies, engineering companies and mortgage service companies.”

Pittsburgh: A Top Real Estate Buyer’s Market

Sep 30, 2014
erjkprunczyk / Flickr

According to the Real Estate Firm Zillow, Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s top 10 buyer’s markets. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of residential real estate.

For an industry that is struggling to find workers, this Friday is especially important.  

On National Manufacturing Day, plants in Pennsylvania will host open houses, career workshops and public tours in an effort to recruit future employees.

Manufacturers are facing a skilled labor shortage. Employers are struggling to keep up with retirement rates and increased needs for production, said Tom Reed, managing director of marketing and communications for Catalyst Connection.  

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Another shuttered downtown department store will soon be turned into housing, parking and retail space but unlike some of the other projects launched by Millcraft Investments, this one will start with demolishing the structure.

400 PPG workers from throughout the country have packed up their bags to begin work at the company's new regional headquarters in Cranberry Township.  The architectural coatings office celebrated its grand opening Thursday.

Scott Sinetar, Vice President of Architectural Coatings for the U.S. and Canada, said the creation of the new headquarters is the result of PPG Industry’s 2013 acquisition of AkzoNobel’s North American decorative paints business.

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