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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen. | Show Photo

Economy : Development News

5 Economy Articles | Page:

Wins Day highlights successful business attraction

The Pittsburgh Re gional Alliance hosted Wins Day on Wednesday, presenting a performance scorecard capturing 302 economic development deals during 2013 — a 12 percent increase in activity over the previous year.
 
This was the PRA’s, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community, seventh Wins Day. The group describes their economic record of Pittsburgh as a “great American comeback story.” The event highlights what makes Pittsburgh an attractive place for business and expansion.
 
Growth was presented across five key sectors: manufacturing, information and communications technology, financial and business services, natural resources and healthcare and life sciences.Though the lines dividing various sectors are sometimes blurred.
 
“A lot of these sectors are intersecting together, that’s really the strength of Pittsburgh,” said Dewitt Peart, PRA president.
 
Manufacturing boasted the most “wins” at 65, which is a rise from the previous year’s scorecard of 59.
 
“Yes, manufacturing is growing,” announced Peart at the downtown event. Elaborating in a Wins Day press release, “The Pittsburgh region still makes things: specialty metals, medical devices, robots and turbines — to name a few. We’re a manufacturer to the world, capitalizing on technology to make processes precise, sophisticated and efficient.”
 
Pittsburgh has historically been a manufacturing hub, but has recently become known for its growth in technology, an emphasis on which crossed all sectors.

“Tech is ubiquitous,” said Wins Day speaker Audrey Russo, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.
 
Peart said there are more than 20,000 current job openings in the Pittsburgh region — and more than half of these openings require technology skills and experience. These jobs are not just with tech agencies, but across several industries.
 
This movement was represented with the Wins Day speakers from “winning” area companies whose businesses spanned various disciplines. Development leaders John Thornton (CEO of Astrobotic Technology, Inc.), Jarrod Siket (senior vice president and general manager of marketing at Netronome), Tony Dodds (Ness Technologies vice president finance and controller) and Patrick Colletti (president of Net Health) spoke about the evolution of their organizations.
 
These testimonials gave insight to the ideas and products coming out of Pittsburgh from medical software to communications technology to the moon — Astrobotic is in a race to the moon with the Google Lunar X Prize.
 
Companies like the ones featured at Wins Day may have international reach —Astrobotic is working with multiple other countries and Ness is an Israeli-headquartered global corporation — but homegrown talent was a theme all speakers addressed, describing the rich pool of candidates graduating from Pittsburgh universities.
 
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Audrey Russo, Dewitt Peart, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance

New report shows growth in Downtown Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership released its State of Downtown Pittsburgh 2013 report Monday and the results should come as no surprise: Downtown is growing.

The report boasts that in the last year, Downtown has seen increases in leased office space, transportation usage and, most notably, the residential market.  

“This confirms what we’ve been talking about for a couple years now,” says Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “It’s the same growth in Downtown Pittsburgh from all perspectives.”

Downtown has added 632 rental residential units since 2010, and by the end of 2012, 96 percent of all Downtown rental units were occupied. Nearly 2,400 units are in development, about 400 of which are currently under construction, per the report.

“We’re becoming more of a residential community,” Waldrup says. “That, to us, is really exciting and something we want to see more of.”

The 2000 U.S. Census showed there were fewer than 6,500 residents in the Greater Downtown area. In 2010, there were nearly 7,800. The report estimates that since 2010, Greater Downtown has added roughly 900 new residents.

Downtown and the Central Business District are home to more than 126,000 jobs and nearly half of Greater Pittsburgh’s market for office space.

Transit use has increased, too. The T has seen an 18 percent spike in use since the North Shore connector opened, and bus ridership rose 3 percent after three straight years of decline.

“It’s essential not just for our continued growth but to our continued existence,” says Waldrup. “We need to invest in what we currently have, but also look toward the future.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

GoBurgh hosts Pittsburgh's first-ever Transit Day

GoBurgh, a coalition of organizations with a shared mission to promote vibrant and sustainably funded transportation infrastructure in Pittsburgh, hosted the city’s first-ever Transit Day last Thursday.

“Transit is big here,” says Chris Sandvig of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, which manages GoBurgh.
“Transit Day’s point is to call attention to the fact that there are a lot of people who rely on the system. We don’t generate tax revenue without transit, and it’s costing us employers.”

Transit Day arose out of PCRG’s efforts toward advocacy fundraising. The proposed 35 percent transit service cuts that were narrowly averted last year thanks to state assistance would have cost more than $300 million to Allegheny County taxpayers.

“We’re starting a conversation locally about what sort of transit system we want,” Sandvig says. “We’ve had no vision of a transit system of the future since Skybus. We have all these great ideas about light rail and commuter rail, but what comes first? That’s the conversation we need to have.”

The Transit Day celebration, which took place in Market Square, offered attendees free Eat’n Park smiley cookies and entertainment from comedian Gab Bonesso and Meeting of Important People’s Josh Verbanets.  

Additionally, commuters who used the Carnegie, Wilkinsburg and Showcase Cinema Park and Ride installations were treated to free coffee and Transit YES! buttons.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Sandvig

Wigle Whiskey to host Modern Tar & Feathering, will soon unveil new distilled spirits

To celebrate this year’s anniversary of the Whiskey Rebellion--which occurred near here in 1794--the Strip District's Wigle Whiskey plans to tar and feather its patrons.  But don't worry, while the distillery might make its rye whiskey much like it was done in 18th Century, their process for tarring and feathering is much more humane.

The event is a collaboration between the Mattress Factory, Attack Theater, Society for Contemporary Craft, Toonseum, Carnegie Library and the Carnegie Science Center.  Each organization will “tar and feather” attendees, with guests will voting on the most inventive method.  The winning organization will receive use of the distillery for an evening.

But why tar and feather?  Meredith Grelli, co-owner of Wigle, explains that historically Europeans and Americans have protested taxes this way, and that local tax collectors were once tarred and feathered by Pittsburgh distillers.

Along with art-related tar and feather activities, food will be provided by the Pittsburgh Taco Truck, Franktuary, and the Goodie Truck.  And Bar Marco will host an afterparty with $5 Wigle cocktails.

In addition to this weekend's event, Wigle is preparing to release several new distilled spirits. 

In October, Wigle will unveil its first traditional Genever gin, and will be one of only two distilleries in the nation currently offering that spirit, Grelli says. 

And Wigle hopes to have a new line of bitters available before the holidays, with experimental flavors such as lychee or honeysuckle. 

"We hope to just keep innovating and introducing people to new spirits, to lost gems of distillation," Grelli says.

Grelli says since opening Wigle has become a destination for whiskey lovers, with enthusiasts traveling from as far as Scotland and Costa Rica, and from throughout the nation.  She expects the momentum of craft distilleries to continue growing.

"The craft distilling environment and the industry is really where craft beer making was probably 20 or 30 years ago,” she says.  “So we're really at just the start of this.”

Wigle Whiskey is open for cocktails and tastings Wednesday through Sunday.  Tours of the distillery can be booked through their website


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Meredith Grelli

Sewickley experiences a revival with eight new businesses

Sewickley is experiencing a revival.  Within the next month eight new businesses will have opened in vacant storefronts, with a possible four more to come.  Businesses include a mix of restaurants and retail stores, and will be unique to Sewickley.  

Kirsten Stripay and Jennifer Markus launched the Explore Sewickley campaign earlier this year.  Their non-profit, Village Green Partners, was contracted by the Borough to help connect entrepreneurs with building owners, and it appears to be working.

“A lot of small towns are struggling,” and might get one or two openings a year, Stripay says. “To get more than a dozen stores in a year I think is absolutely fascinating.  It really, truly is a revival of a small town.”

Most recently, Chris and Jenn Bonfili, owners of the popular Shadyside restaurant Avenue B, have announced that they will be opening a new concept, B Gourmet, in the former Fondi’s Gourmet Market space.  The new location will be a local, organic eatery and market place.

Other new businesses include: Pink and Blue, a modern babies and children’s boutique; Nyches Hot Dogs; House 15143, a home decorating shop; East Coast Sandwiches; Threadz, a women’s apparel boutique; and Pennsylvania Dance Academy.

And Vivo Kitchen will soon open in Sewickley, relocating from their former location in Bellevue.  Owners Sam and Lori DiBattista have begun a soft opening at 432 Beaver Street.  

Stripay says many factors contribute to this positive momentum.  “There's complete organization and it's unique to a small community,” she says.  “[But] there's so many things that play into this.  It's about an entire community, it's about everyone paying attention.”


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Kirsten Stripay
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