Economy & Business

Economy & Business news from 90.5 WESA.

Pennsylvania’s economic outlook is looking brighter - but only slightly.

That’s according to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which ranked Pennsylvania 33rd in its 2014 competitiveness report.

The report looks at state economic policies and draws conclusions from research about which states will achieve greater prosperity and which will have a mediocre economy.

Jonathan Williams, Director of Tax and Fiscal Policy at ALEC, said they try to highlight states that have policies enacted that really make a difference.

Doing What You Love as a Career is Not as Easy as it Sounds

Apr 23, 2014

People are often told to do what they love and the money will follow. But that’s easier said than done and doesn’t always work out the way people hope. Independent career consultant Sasha King said that this commonly given advice has a few flaws.

Looking at The Numbers Behind Pittsburgh's Wage Gap

Apr 23, 2014
Mahalie Stackpole / flickr

Women in the Pittsburgh metro area made an average of $13,407 less than their male counterparts in 2013. For male and female employees with identical levels of education and experience, the female worker will make an average of 73 cents for every dollar paid to the man, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.

This Thursday in Market Square, groups will join together for Pittsburgh’s Equal Pay Day Rally. According to Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation, the goal of the rally is to highlight the injustice of the gap and push legislation that would allow women to fight for better pay. 

Ashley Murray / Allegheny Front

When local photographer Ian Rosenberger saw garbage piled in the street and thrown into canals untouched by a stretched public works system, he was moved to do more than take photos.

He jotted in his journal how it would be good to turn Haiti’s trash into money.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited the Community College of Allegheny County's West Hills Center campus in Oakdale Wednesday to announce system-wide reforms of federal job training programs.

Nearly one in four workers (23 percent) in the Pittsburgh region is employed by the technology industry comprising about 29 percent of the city’s total wages at $16.9 billion, according to the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC).

To help "win today's talent war" the PTC is introducing several initiatives to assist tech firms in attracting new workers including launching the redesigned online Career Connector. The site claims it's the “largest Pittsburgh region technology-specific job board” with more than 10,000 searchable resumes already available.

The Business of Summer Camp, from Architecture to Arts & Crafts

Apr 15, 2014
Adrián Merinero Sánchez / flickr

While winter is hardly a distant memory, it’s time to start making summer plans. If summer camp is in your child’s future, contributor Rebecca Harris says now is the time to sign-up. This week she focused on the business of summer camps.

More than six million children attend summer camps each year, and there are many different options. There are day camps, sleep away camps and even summer camps for adults. Rebecca has suggested just a few to check out before sessions fill up.

The new owners of H.J. Heinz Co. have offered buyouts to all 775 workers in Pittsburgh, where the ketchup-and-food giant has been based for decades, but says the move doesn't signal a plan to move the company's headquarters.

Instead, Heinz officials say the buyout is being offered because the new owners Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital — a Brazilian investment firm — recognize the company's new culture might not be "the perfect fit" for long-time Pittsburgh-based employees.

Pat Williams / Flickr


As national media reports about the attacks at Franklin Regional High School began to unfold last week, a story of one of the injured victims taking a selfie from the hospital quickly went viral and prompted a range of reactions. Was the student showing off or simply communicating to his circle of friends?

Gordon Mitchell and Brent Malin, University of Pittsburgh associate professors of communication talked with us about the importance of media literacy and the evolving relevance of social media in our lives and in mainstream news.

Heinz Endowments

The Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments has named Grant Oliphant as the charity's new president.

Oliphant previously spent more than 10 years with the Heinz Endowments in various senior management roles before spending the last six years as chief executive officer of another charity, the Pittsburgh Foundation.

401(K) 2013 / Flickr

Many college students have very little to no experience in financial planning, which is why University of Pittsburgh Professor of Finance, Jay Sukits, created an event to help students become financially literate.

Gene Natali, Senior Vice President at CS McKee and co-author of The Missing Semester is speaking at the event, Money 101-Taking Control, dedicated to teaching high school and college students about managing their finances.

Take A Trip To Canada, In Downtown Pittsburgh

Apr 8, 2014
Marnie Schleicher / 90.5WESA

This week our neighbors to the north – Canada - will be celebrated in Pittsburgh via a temporary Canadian consulate. Canada is Pennsylvania’s largest trading partner and export market, receiving 30 percent of the state’s foreign-bound goods. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looked at the state’s business connections to Canada.

The future is looking a little bit brighter for Pennsylvania small businesses, according to a PNC survey.

The bi-annual report shows 13 percent of small and mid-sized businesses in the state will look to hire more full-time employees in the next six months. But 7 percent of business owners plan to reduce their full-time staff.

What To Do If Your GM Car May Have Been Recalled

Apr 7, 2014
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Congressional staff investigating the widening GM ignition switch recall of more than 2 million vehicles said there are indications GM approved the design of the switches in 2002, for popular cars such as the Chevy Cobalt, even though the company knew they did not meet specifications.

The new CEO of GM, Mary Barra testified on Capitol Hill last week about the safety defect that's been linked to at least 13 deaths and sparked a 2.6 million-vehicle recall. Los Angeles Times staff writer Jerry Hirsch has been following this story.  

While a proposal to create a land bank in the city of Pittsburgh is getting bogged down by controversy, a similar plan that would include 40 municipalities in the Mon Valley and eastern reaches of Allegheny County is hurtling ahead without much dissention.

The Twin Rivers, Turtle Creek Valley and Steel Valley Councils of Governments began the process of creating a land bank program shortly after Gov. Tom Corbett signed enabling legislation in December of 2012. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

At its annual meeting Thursday, VisitPITTSBURGH highlighted some of the successes in tourism in the last couple of years.

The national group Tourism Economics releases data on the industry; 2012 numbers were recently released for Allegheny County.

Ben Gillin / Flickr

March Madness, Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four are some pretty popular terms at this time of year. But legal infractions are a common problem for businesses that try to capitalize on all of the championship hype without looking at the copyright issues.

Dave Radack, vice chair of the Intellectual Property Department and member of Eckert Seamans' Board of Directors, works with patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.

Three months until the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, Pennsylvania’s revenue collections are 0.5  percent short of estimates.

The Department of Revenue reports  through the first nine months of FY 13-14 it has collected  $20.5 billion — $96.3 million behind approximations — but spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said that number “disguises the fiscal reality.”

Corporate April Fool's Jokes Going Viral

Apr 1, 2014

Cheetos perfume, Taco Bell purchasing the Liberty Bell and American Beagle dogwear.

They’re all examples of corporations getting into to spirit of April Fool's. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of April Fools. 

The owners of Pittsburgh's minor league soccer team and the riverfront stadium in which they play have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Riverhounds Acquisition Group, L. P. owns the team and lists debts of between $1 million and $10 million in its petition. Riverhounds Event Center LP, which owns Highmark Stadium, has $7.2 million in mortgage debt, plus a $1.5 million bank loan and hundreds of thousands of dollars in other debts to smaller creditors.

Community Backed Micro-Lending Helps Homewood Indoor Bike Park

Mar 27, 2014
The Wheel Mill

Since the early 2000’s more than one million small businesses worldwide have been funded through the online micro-lending program known as

The loans help revitalize local economies and make it possible for the average person, rather than banks, to fund innovative ideas and businesses. 

Premal Shah, President and co-founder said Kiva is a non-profit that provides loans to many different people at 0% interest, often people who can't qualify for a bank loan.

Julian Routh / 90.5 WESA

When Tracy Carter was a member of corporate America, she daydreamed in her office about opening up her own hair salon.

She knew she was serious about her aspirations, but didn’t have the finances to jump start them.  

Rather than going to a bank for a loan, Carter found help from 95 donors on, a crowdfunding initiative that enables anyone in the world to lend money to small businesses.

Now, $5,000 later, Carter owns Shear Talent in Bethel Park.

401(K) 2013 / Flickr

With less than a week until the healthcare enrollment deadline, and tax season underway, Judith Herron, a CPA with Markovitz-Dugan and Associates in Green Tree explains how the Affordable Care Act will impact filing.

How will the Affordable care Act impact individuals?

Flickr user pennstatenews

Advanced manufacturing is picking up in the Pittsburgh region, more jobs are requiring technology skills and the financial and businesses services sector is greatest contributor to the gross regional product.

Those are just some of the takeaways from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance’s seventh annual economic development performance scorecard and “Wins Day” Wednesday.

The alliance is the marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference for Economic Development and is charged with the task of marketing the Pittsburgh region to businesses and workers alike.

HUD Funding Assists Public Housing Maintenance

Mar 23, 2014

As part of a $1.8 billion assistance package from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Allegheny County Housing Authority and Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will receive nearly $20 million to improve public housing units.

The awards, $4.1 million to the ACHA and $13.2 million to the HACP, are to be used to modernize, build, repair and renovate public housing developments.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate continued its rapid drop in February, while employer payrolls inched up and the labor force grew after a 14-month skid.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.2 percent last month. It was last at that mark in 2008. The national rate was 6.7 percent in February.

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say the West Penn Allegheny Health System has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to settle claims that it violated the law by offering doctors below-market rents so the physicians would refer patients to the network's hospitals.

A spokesman for West Penn says the settlement grew out of a self-audit and voluntary report made to federal officials, which was confirmed by U.S. Attorney David Hickton, who announced the settlement. The allegedly illegal activity began in the mid-2000s, with most of it occurring between 2008 and 2012.

The Business of French Products

Mar 18, 2014,_September_2010.jpg

This week, contributor Rebecca Harris looked at the connection French businesses and products have to our commercial sector.

France is the sixth largest foreign investor in the Pittsburgh region, with 27 French-owned companies that operate about 50 establishments in the area.

Here are some Pittsburgh businesses with a French connection:

Marc Moss / flickr

Once home to the nation’s leading tire manufacturers, Akron, Ohio, was hit hard by post-industrial layoffs, factory closings and a steadily declining population.

Like other rust belt cities, the once-rubber giant has had to redefine itself and its industry.

In his book The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt, author David Giffels chronicles past glories and the present condition of his home state. 

While the overall casino revenue for February decreased 5 percent, the Pennsylvania table games had a bit more luck.

Table games at the commonwealth’s 12 casinos grossed $57.1 million this year — a 3.25 percent increase over February 2013.

However, Richard McGarvey, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman, said this increase is not that impressive at second glance.