Business

North Dakota Department of Agriculture via AP

The number of acres permitted to grow industrial hemp in Pennsylvania is going to increase 100-fold in 2018, from less than 50 to possibly more than 5,000.

dnesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

Amazon benefited from more than $1.2 billion in incentives across the country, according to research published Wednesday by American City Business Journals

The company employs an estimated 10,000 people across 15 facilities in Pennsylvania, drawing nearly $25 million in known subsidies statewide. Bids for Amazon’s second North American headquarters HQ2 are due next week.

Matt Rourke / AP

As Pennsylvania contends with a months-late budget and recently-downgraded bond rating, it’s also working hard to entice Amazon to set up a secondary headquarters in one of its cities.

hhm8 / Flickr

City leaders in McKeesport traced $1.4 million in unpaid taxes to a company that did business there over multiple years.

A tax collection audit firm discovered the loss, but declined to name the company responsible. In a statement Wednesday, Philadelphia-based eCollect Plus said the company is publicly traded and not local.

A partner at eCollect Plus, Michael Hill, said “a multitude” of other companies also owe unpaid taxes to McKeesport. It’s common for municipal tax revenues to go missing, usually due to inadvertent errors in tax reporting, according to Hill.

The Annual Performance Review Gets A Reboot

Jul 13, 2017
Erika Beras

As a lawyer at a big firm and other companies, Chris Arnold remembers those nights before his annual performance reviews well, if reluctantly.

“Night sweats. Shakes. Terror,” he said. “It was a lot of anxiety.”

That’s because Arnold didn’t know what to expect. Would he get a raise, make partner or be greeted with a nasty surprise? Turns out that type of backward-looking assessment of someone’s performance didn’t work so well for companies either.

Keith Srakocic / AP

PPG Industries is retreating from its attempt to take over AkzoNobel after repeated refusals to negotiate by the Dutch chemicals company.

There has been an aggressive push to consolidate in the industry because of falling revenue and thin margins.

DuPont and Dow are attempting to complete a $62 billion merger. Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant and Huntsman Corp in Texas recently announced their intent to become a single company with a market value of almost $14 billion.

AP

Harrisburg lawmakers accepted over $145 thousand in hospitality, gifts, and other travel in 2016, according to recently-filed financial interest disclosure forms.

The commonwealth has one of the loosest laws for reporting those gifts in the country.

The filings are coming as advocates across the state make a renewed push to get lawmakers to impose regulations on the amount of money they can take.

Republican Representative Rick Saccone, of Allegheny County, said regulations governing what needs to be reported--like dinners--are also loose.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Hershey expects to cut its global workforce by about 15 percent, with the reductions coming mostly from hourly employees outside the United States.

The Pennsylvania chocolate maker also trimmed its forecast for long-term sales growth to between 2 percent and 4 percent, down from the previous 3 percent to 5 percent. The company attributed the lowered expectation to changes in U.S. shopping habits and macroeconomic challenges overseas.

CEO Michele Buck will discuss the measures in New York when she meets with analysts Wednesday.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

 

 

The Supreme Court is upholding the broad reach of a federal law prohibiting bank fraud.

The unanimous ruling on Monday came in the case of a California man who illegally siphoned about $307,000 out of a Taiwanese businessman's Bank of America bank account.

Justice Stephen Breyer rejected Lawrence Shaw's claim that the law applies only when a defendant intends to cheat the bank itself — not a bank customer. Breyer said the bank has property interests in the customer's account and that Shaw misled the bank to steal the customer's money.

DA's Office Among 500K Hit By International Cybercrime Group

Dec 5, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

A state prosecutor's office in Pennsylvania was among hundreds of thousands of victims of a now-shuttered international cybercrime operation, paying nearly $1,400 in a bitcoin ransom to free up its infected computer network, authorities disclosed Monday.

Brett VA / Flickr

Hundreds of independent Pittsburgh businesses will participate in this year’s Small Business Saturday initiative. Created by American Express in 2010, the day seeks to draw attention to the importance of shopping at locally-owned stores during the holiday season and all year long.

Pittsburgh's Startup Activity Isn't As Strong As It Claims

Oct 3, 2016
Mike Petrucci / Upsplash

You’ve heard it in the news or maybe even from your neighbor: These days, Pittsburgh is hailed as the center for innovation. The Steel City is thriving and building the new economy and even “birthing the age of self-driving cars,” as Wired Magazine recently put it. The idea that Pittsburgh is the bleeding edge of the startup frontier seems to be as much a part of its present narrative as steel was in its past.

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.

North Side Tech Company Thinks IT Can Fix Your Baseball Swing

Oct 27, 2015
Diamond Kinetics

A batter's swing takes, on average, two-tenths of a second -- less if you’re in the big leagues. So it’s not easy for a human coach’s eye to assess power, speed and control. 

Not far from PNC Park, Diamond Kinetics is working on the fix.

CEO C.J. Handron lifts his slugger and aims. The barely perceptible device strapped to the knobby base of the bat doesn't move, but it's picking up 15 metrics in real time

On Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews was in Pittsburgh to lead an initiative that will help start-up and early stage businesses conduct business abroad.

“With 96 percent of the world’s customers and 80 percent of the world’s GDP outside of the borders of the United States, there are tremendous opportunities for U.S. businesses around the world, and we want to help companies early in their life cycle and early in their growth to start thinking globally rather than waiting until they’re further along and more developed,” said Andrews.

Encouraging Pittsburgh Businesses To 'Get To Know' Cuba

Aug 11, 2015
halbag / flickr

 

Last May, Mayor Peduto led a delegation of Pittsburgh businesspersons to Cuba. The goal of the trip was to lay the groundwork to establish business relationships between the Steel City and Cuba. What could this mean for the city’s economic outlook? We’ll ask President of Molimar Export Consultants Inc.  Pamela Martin who organized the Pittsburgh delegation that traveled to Pittsburgh.

Flickr User Shinichi Sugiyama

More Pennsylvania students and schools would benefit from private funding if State Representative Jim Christiana’s bill to expand two education tax credit programs becomes law.

courtesy BLK SHP

A traveling team of thinkers, artists and executives arrives in Pittsburgh this week in search of ideas for remaking the U.S. economy.

Members of the Austin-based BLK SHP group — pronounced “black sheep” — are traveling the nation by bus, meeting with entrepreneurs and community leaders, also known as "shepherds," in 20 towns and cities.

In planning the “Rediscovering America’s True North” tour, project director Alexa Clay sought out Rust Belt communities and other formerly industrial areas that are bouncing back from the recession through creativity and grass-roots innovation.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

H.J. Heinz Co. is buying Kraft Foods, creating one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world with annual revenue in excess of $28 billion.

The deal was engineered by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and the company that owns Heinz, Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital. Berkshire and 3G will invest $10 billion in what will come to be known as The Kraft Heinz Co.

Devon Christopher Adams / Flickr

Remembering Mr. Spock (41:00)

Actor Leonard Nimoy, best known as Mr. Spock on the classic television series Star Trek died last week at the age of 83. He made his Shakespearean acting debut at the Pittsburgh Public Theater in 1975. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos explains more about Nimoy's connection to the Steel City.   

PhotosNormandie / Flickr

Seventy years ago this month, Pittsburgh native George Pietropola battled frostbite in the Ardennes Forest during World War II. Just after the war ended, then-Staff Sgt. Pietropola was presented with a Bronze Star for his heroism under fire from February 9th to February 24th. 

"It looked more like a slaughter to me. It was terrible. That was one of the worst things I’d ever seen – that ever happened, all the time I was in the war." - George Pietropola

Fitness Means Business

Feb 17, 2015
Fittsburgh / Facebook

From Zumba to yoga to gym memberships, fitness is big business. This week business contributor Rebecca Harris offers her take on some of the latest trends in the business of fitness.

Harris says one of the new ways of working out is treadmill studio running that features intensity training. Another trend is the rise of fitness streaming technologies, which are a popular choice for people who want to work out at home but still have the feel of a “social” experience. Crossfit remains very popular too, Harris says.

Tzuhsun Hsu / Flickr

Last month Bar Marco, a trendy restaurant in the Strip District, announced that they plan to do away with tipping this Spring. There’s been an outpouring of interest, curiosity and praise from all over the country.

Bar Marco Co-Owner Bobby Fry and Events Coordinator Andrew Heffner talk about how they came to this decision and how they plan to make it work.

A no-tipping policy has pros and cons for owners, servers, and customers. Offering their perspectives are Meg Fosque, the National Development Director for Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), as well as Kevin Joyce, owner of the Carlton Restaurant in Pittsburgh and a member of the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association.

According to Fry, Bar Marco made the decision to discontinue tipping after encountering research that suggested eliminating the practice could help mitigate some of the restaurant’s scheduling concerns. Workers in restaurants and retail environments often face schedule fluctuations that make their financial and personal lives difficult, Fry says. Bar Marco’s plan to cease the tip system involves creating a conventional forty-hour schedule for its employees and paying the kitchen staff the same as the servers: a standard yearly salary of $35,000.

Black History Month: History and Business

Feb 10, 2015
City Parks / City of Pittsburgh

African American life, history and culture have become major forces in the United States and the world. Here to discuss the evolution, from both a social and economic perspective, of Black History Month is business contributor Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University.

Neighborhood Business: The Mexican War Streets

Feb 3, 2015
Joseph / Flickr

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

Broadly speaking, Harris explains, the North Side consists of 18 different neighborhoods. The district that makes up the Mexican War Streets was laid out in the middle of the 19th century by Alexander Hays, who named the streets after famous figures and battles in the Mexican-American war. The area now holds city and federal designations as a historic district.

Today’s Mexican War Streets district doesn’t really have any central business district; businesses are more spread out instead. Some highlights are the Inn on the Mexican War Streets and the Allegheny City Market, which has been a corner grocery store since 1825.

Ever Wonder What’s Behind Closed Captioning?

Feb 3, 2015
Daniel Olnes / Flickr

When working out at the gym or sitting at a noisy bar, you’ve probably watched the scrolling text on the nearby TV screen to find out what’s being said. Closed captions have been available for TV since the early days of Julia Child.

Repurposing: It's Good for Business

Jan 27, 2015
Rebecca Harris / CWE Chatham

Repurposing refers to finding new uses for items. Some enterprising entrepreneurs have even turned this into a profitable moneymaking venture.

This week business contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of repurposing.

Harris emphasizes that repurposing doesn’t just change the use of old goods; it also changes their value.

The Business of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District

Jan 20, 2015
lady_lbrty / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has helped to transform a downtrodden section of Downtown into a world-class Cultural District. This revitalization through the arts has served as a national model for other cities.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, explains the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Cultural District.

Pittsburgh’s Resilience Recognized

Jan 13, 2015
Shane Henderson / Flickr

Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas and Boston are a few of the 35 cities selected to be part of the Rockefeller Award’s resilient cities challenge.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris joins us this week to tell us about this honor and what it means for the Steel City.

Sarahnaut / Flickr

In today’s competitive marketplace, companies are always looking for the next overlooked demographic to exploit. Some past examples include Young Upward Professionals (Yuppies) and couples known as DINKs (double income no kids).

The next overlooked demographic to get its own nickname are PANKs, which stands for: Professional Aunts, No Kids. 

Business contributor Rebecca Harris explains the PANK concept and their effect on the marketplace.

She says this group consists of child-loving women who do not have children of their own, and no, they're not spinsters

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