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Is this Pittsburgh’s moment?

Some say yes–not just those from Pittsburgh but quite a few outside the city. And it’s a moment we’ve been waiting for.

Seven years ago, I arrived in Pittsburgh with my husband and our then-six-year-old son. We had left beautiful, multi-cultural–and very expensive – San Francisco in search of a city that was more welcoming to a couple of mid-career professionals who were late to the parenting game. Pittsburgh was the winner on our short list of cities (Minneapolis and Burlington, Vt. were the other two), and to this day we still drop our jaws every time we exit the Fort Pitt Tunnel and gaze upon the Golden Triangle. The flip side? There were few restaurants in the city that satisfied our foodie sensibility and municipal governance was in flux.

Fast forward to this season of giving and it’s easy to find oneself in a space of gratitude, for five very good reasons.

Penn-Ave-bike-lane1. The city has never looked better. Ever.

In the past few years, downtown’s Market Square has morphed from a desolate space to the beating heart of the city center. Tables and chairs are packed with the lunchtime crowd in warm weather and a slate of good programming is masterfully orchestrated by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

When the Partnership brought the cutting-edge and interactive art installation, “Congregation,” to the Square earlier this year, we all swooned. Yoga on the Square? On my list. A short walk away, Point State Park was completely renovated in recent years and the fountain now shoots spectacularly in all its glory after a long dry spell. It’s not just the locals who are charmed by the Point – a 40-foot-tall rubber duckie appeared to wink at revelers in the fall of 2013.

Further into the downtown district, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy did the heavy lifting on the renovation of Mellon Square, a Modernist marvel which echoed today’s rooftop gardens yet had fallen into disrepair. After a $10 million renovation funded by civic giants including the Richard King Mellon and Colcom Foundations, the fountains are once again splashing and emerald-green “terraces” add to the feel of an urban oasis. These are some of the reasons why Pittsburgh, more than ever, is getting great buzz and more than its share of attention in the national press. The most recent? A glowing tribute from Atlantic Magazine on why millennials love Pittsburgh. (We love Lena Andrew’s remark: “Every friend who visits us here wants to start looking at houses.”)

2. There’s never been a better time for Pittsburgh.

Right now, there are more people than ever – that’s right, ever – in the Pittsburgh work force. The unemployment rate for the Pittsburgh metropolitan area was 5.2 percent as of September 2014, the fifth lowest rate among major peers including Boston, Richmond, Baltimore and Philadelphia. And as NEXTpittsburgh has reported, the buzz about the city has never been greater, for many reasons. Capitalizing on this momentum is the administration of new mayor Bill Peduto, which is keen to listen to the data as well as the people as it fashions the city’s next renaissance. Key eyes and ears are a cabinet that includes Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin, Chief Innovation and Performance Officer Debra Lam, and Chief Education & Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer Curtiss E. Porter. Peduto, a progressive mayor with a hugely ambitious agenda is already making gains on top priorities that include education, economic development, public safety, transportation and sustainability.

3. We’re focusing on under-served neighborhoods and community voices.

It’s no secret that the steely (as in tough, as in real) nature of Pittsburghers is one of the city’s greatest assets but to maximize that, we need vibrant, livable places for all our citizens. NEXT recently profiled 5 people making Pittsburgh a more livable city for all. Now it’s time to recognize a few of the many organizations in town working toward improvement. One is Neighborhood Allies, a “community development intermediary,” connecting underserved neighborhoods with the partners and investments that can help craft sustainable communities. The seasoned hands at the organization know how to succeed and are already securing positive outcomes throughout the city. Among the Allies is the longstanding Design Center of Pittsburgh, which utilizes design, urban planning, and public policy to shape equitable communities throughout the region.

Doing more good thinking on these vital issues is Urban Innovation21, an organization led by Bill Generett, that believes the innovation economy cannot thrive if under-served communities are left behind. It’s time to spread the wealth (generators) and while we have miles to go in this pursuit, Pittsburgh is on board more than ever with a multitude of nonprofit groups–and individuals–working to make the region better for all.

Amazing-Cafe-menu-768x10244. Our food scene is blowing up.

We can all be thankful this season for bountiful dining options in our beloved city. It’s easy to appreciate Rick DeShantz, chef-owner of Meat and Potatoes on Penn Avenue. DeShantz is committed to the city center and at his gorgeous, brown-on-brown signature table, the “Meat & Potatoes for Two” is a shimmery 34-oz. ribeye nestled against steak fries and a bone marrow gratin, the whole presented on a butcher-block-style carving board. It’s arguably the best dish in the city.

Table number two for DeShantz and partner Tolga Sevdik is Butcher and the Rye, where libations such as the one in the name take center stage. Around the corner, chef Brian Pekarcik and partner Rick Stern have re-imagined the classic Chinese dim sum breakfast as a dinnertime treat at Grit & Grace, and this former San Franciscan can’t get enough of the warm, palm-sized steam bun with housemade mortadella, coriander mustard and bread & butter pickles.

Up the road on Penn Avenue, chef Matthew Porco is redefining meatballs at Sienna Sulla Mercato, a multi-faceted dining destination that features a knockout rooftop beer garden. Porco has a sensibility for what diners want right now and delivers on his good instincts, placing his latest venture in the conversation with similar dining adventures in Chicago and New York.

Looking east, it’s impossible not to have a good meal at Trevett Hooper’s Legume, a temple for foodies, and Dave Racicot’s notion, a culinary extravaganza that’s always original. Young chefs (and best friends) Keith Fuller at Root 174 and Kate Romane at e2 are as passionate as any chefs in the city and serious about food, which is why their cozy establishments are always packed (and, well, Romane’s meatballs are all that). Arguably providing the foundation – and the chefs – for this culinary explosion is the Big Burrito Group, where corporate chef Bill Fuller helms a stable of wickedly good restaurants led by Eleven, the play space of chef Derek Stevens.

There are so many more, including Amazing Café on the South Side and Thin Man Sandwich Shop in The Strip, and more on the way.

5. We’re growing greener.

Even before he was elected mayor, Peduto traveled to Slovenia to visit Grah Lighting, the leading manufacturer of LED lighting in Europe. The plan is to have Grah locate a manufacturing facility in Pittsburgh and, at the same time, replace the city’s 40,000 streetlights with more efficient LEDs. This dovetails with the mayor’s vision of making the city a beacon of sustainability and green initiatives that includes a complete streets program with expanded bike lanes, a citywide bike share program, and rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft reducing the number of cars on our roads. Renewable energy such as solar continues to grow within the city limits as evidenced by this year’s fourth annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour, held on October 18. Twenty solar owners were part of a self-guided open house tour on that day at which hundreds of people learned more about being, and saving, green.

Yes, it’s the season of gratitude in Pittsburgh, for a multitude of reasons. These are just a few of ours at NEXTpittsburgh. Let us know more here.

Zersha Munir

Where can you find more than 25,000 job listings for the Pittsburgh region — all in one place?, that’s where! Each night our powerful job aggregator scrapes more than 900 corporate websites and job search engines for listings across the 10-county Pittsburgh region. So it’s no longer necessary to go to Monster, then Career Builder, then US Jobs and on and on. We bring it all to you in one convenient place.

Here are few of the jobs you’ll find on the site right now:

Licensed Financial Specialist at PNC

Senior Robotics Machine Learning Research Engineer at Carnegie Mellon University

Continuous Improvement Project Manager at MSA

Field Communications Manager at EQT Corporation

Sr Programmer Analyst at Giant Eagle

Bookmark our Work page to check back regularly for more career opportunities. You can also sign up for our monthly eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.


Powered by Deb Smit for NEXTPittsburgh.

What prompts a successful Pittsburgh gaming company to change its name after 10 years?

Etcetera Edutainment had made a name for itself creating educational video games for a range of industries, but the company moniker never quite reflected its line of video gaming products for a wide range of industries, says Jessica Trybus, CEO. So it did what any smart startup would do, rebranded with a name that captures more of what it does, Simcoach Games.

The name plays off the word simulation as in simple, interactive and measurable. “It’s a sort of pivot,” says Trybus, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center who founded the company out of CMU in 2005. “We wanted to rebrand our company and let our products speak for themselves.”

Simcoach brings gamification to the corporate workforce, helping to not only train workers and teach skill sets but improve job safety, a hot space that is driving growth. The startup employs 15 and expects to nearly double in size this year. (Check out NEXT jobs.)

It also delivers video simulations for productivity, ethics, cognitive learning and customer service. Many of the products are delivered on mobile devices, says Trybus.

In 2012, the company extended its game-based methodology to sustained behavior change applications. In the coming month, UPMC will roll out a Simcoach mobile app for patients called “Heart Failure Coach.

Heart failure patients will play mobile games to learn to incorporate key behaviors to facilitate their recovery. On the workforce side, the videos will assist ER doctors in recognizing trauma cases, business students in practicing ethical decision making and analysts in improving adaptive reasoning and problem solving abilities.

Hospitals are no longer being reimbursed by Medicare for certain repeat procedures. They need to find new ways to change patient behaviors after major surgeries, explains Trybus. If it proves successful, Simcoach will expand the methodology to other hospitals.

By simulating potential health problems during recovery, such as what symptoms to monitor and when to call the doctor, we are able to help some of the sickest patients, she says. “We’re just trying to motivate them and present critical skills they can practice.”

“Good game design is good learning,” says Trybus. “The bottom line is it’s active learning. Players are making choices. If you don’t make choices, there’s no game and no effective learning.”

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Looking for a job? Pittsburgh’s got ‘em — more than 22,000 open positions across the 10-county region. Check out our powerful job search aggregator at

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love:


UPDATE: Parking will be FREE OF CHARGE in Pittsburgh Parking Authority lots on Friday, Nov. 28, Saturday, Nov. 29 and all Saturdays through Christmas to encourage shopping at downtown merchants. Learn more here.

Powered by Jennifer Baron for NEXTPittsburgh.

Get switched on to the holidays at Pittsburgh’s 54th Annual Light Up Night.

Presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) on Fri., Nov. 21st, the highly anticipated kick-off to the 2014 holiday season will feature a vibrant mix of time honored traditions along with brand new components and expanded programming spanning the Golden Triangle.

Discover the more festive side of Downtown Pittsburgh, from dusk to dark, with an entire evening of activities and events for all ages designed to showcase the city’s world-class holiday attractions and shopping. One of the country’s largest holiday celebrations, Light Up Night also ushers in full month of Downtown programming presented by the PDP.

The Christmas tree and skating rink in PPG Plaza.
The Christmas tree and skating rink in PPG Plaza.

Highlights include new components, additional family activities and an expanded lineup of entertainment spanning the event’s four Downtown stages.

Party on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, where the BNY Mellon New Music Stage will welcome national headliner, Cobra Starship, a dance-pop band based in New York City. Rocking over the Allegheny with some of Pittsburgh’s top emerging bands, the Clemente Bridge will also feature performances by Grand Piano and Donora, and an array of tasty treats. The picturesque locale also boasts prime viewing for Zambelli Internationale’s dazzling fireworks finale by, being launched from the adjacent Andy Warhol Bridge.

Looking for a good party spot? Over at the Northwest Savings Bank Stage at Smithfield Street, the crowds will rock out with headliner and local legends Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers who will be joined by special guest sax player and E Street Band member Eddie Manion, for a sneak peek at their upcoming Asbury Park concerts. Also rocking the Northwest Savings Bank Stage will be soul singer Billy Price and country rockers NOMaD. All that rock making you hungry? An added attraction to the Smithfield Street festivities will be the event’s Food Truck Roundup offering an eclectic selection of local eats.

Head to the Holiday Market Stage in Market Square, where the traditions of the season will really come to life. Count down with a guy in a red suit named Santa as he flips that giant switch, illuminating the dazzling BNY Mellon Season of Lights. Featuring more than140,000 lights and a 33-foot tall sphere tree, the choreographed, glittering wonderland will be synchronized to a new high-energy holiday medley and mini-concerts by Jeff Jimerson and Airborne.

Jazz fans should not miss the special homecoming of renowned trumpeter Sean Jones at the EQT Jazzmasters Stage in Katz Plaza. Newly appointed as Chair of the Brass Department at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Jones will be joined by legendary drummer Roger Humphries and vocalists Michele Bensen, Spanky Wilson and Anqwenique Wingfield.

It’s not a holiday without some shopping, and there’s no better place to find those stocking stuffers and special gifts than at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square. New for 2014, the charming European-style holiday market will swing open its doors on Light Up Night featuring 30-plus vendors selling international and handcrafted gifts. While in Market Square, visit Santa’s downtown digs and enjoy live entertainment by local bands and performing arts groups.

If tree lighting is your favorite ritual, you’re in the right place. A full lineup of eight official tree lightings and ceremonies begins at noon, with the lighting of the tree at the City-County Building and the dedication of the US Steel Tower crèche, and then concludes at 7 p.m. with the lighting of Highmark Unity Tree followed by rooftop fireworks.

christmas market
Beeswax and honey items for sale at the Holiday Market.

Looking for indoor family-friendly programs? Visit One Oxford Centre for free indoor activities for children, including face painting, balloon art, sand art and caricatures, an exhibition of historic photos celebrating Pittsburgh during the winter season and live holiday music by The Rick Gallagher Trio. Visit with Santa Claus, see the lighting of a 30-foot tree and even take a free horse drawn carriage rides around the block!

For a VIP party experience, check out Light Up Night’s Blast, a special reception hosted by the PDP. VIPers will start at the Union Trust Building with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and music from 7 to 9 p.m., and will then watch the fireworks from an exclusive viewing area on the Clemente Bridge at 9:38 p.m. Limited tickets are available. (NEXTpittsburgh is a proud media sponsor.)

Be sure to pop into Downtown’s signature buildings and businesses, including Macy’s, Fifth Avenue Place and PPG Place, which will all host Light Up Night merry making, music and family activities.

Leigh White, with the PDP says that between 200,000 and 400,000 revelers are expected to attend this year’s edition of Light Up Night.


Zersha Munir

Where can you find 25,915 job listings for the Pittsburgh region — all in one place?, that’s where! Each night our powerful job aggregator scrapes more than 900 corporate websites and job search engines for listings across the 10-county Pittsburgh region. So it’s no longer necessary to go to Monster, then Career Builder, then US Jobs and on and on. We bring it all to you in one convenient place.

Here are few of the jobs you’ll find on the site right now:

Director of Northeast Region Commercial Business at Mitsubishi Electric

Programmer Analyst at Giant Eagle

Inside Sales Representative at Elliott Group

Administrative Assistant at Howard Hanna

Business Client Services Administrator at Dollar Bank

Bookmark our Work page to check back regularly for more career opportunities. You can also sign up for our monthly eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.


If you are a transitioning service member or a veteran, Pittsburgh is the destination for you. In fact, Pittsburgh is the #1 Best Place for Veterans in the U.S. according to the 2014 “Best Places for Veterans,” study by USAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes program, based on educational opportunities, jobs, health resources and ease of transition for returning veterans.

We have two hot opportunities right now: a job fair at Heinz Field on November 19, and a new, free career website that matches your military skills with in-demand jobs open now in the Pittsburgh region:

Hiring our Heroes Career Fair for Veterans
Veterans are invited to the free Hiring Our Heroes job fair at Heinz Field on Pittsburgh’s North Shore on Wednesday, Nov. 19. (Register in advance to upload a resume.) and the Pittsburgh Region
Greater Pittsburgh is home to more than 1,000 energy and related manufacturing companies with more than 2,500 in-demand, open positions that are a good match for veterans and transitioning service members. And these employers are hiring. is a free career website that translates military occupation codes and experience to civilian opportunities. It also helps veterans create a resume and profile, and provides a direct channel to these Pittsburgh region employers who are interested in hiring veterans.

For veterans and civilians alike, Pittsburgh has more than 20,000 great jobs open across all industries.’s comprehensive career search engine is updated nightly from more than 900 sources (including Monster, Career Builder and LinkedIn) with jobs of all kinds across the 10-county region. does not accept resumes, but we urge you to use the search engine to find a job that might be right for you, and to apply directly to that link.

You can also use to learn about some of the great employers in our region. If you’re new to town or considering a visit or move here, explore our safe, friendly neighborhoods, educational options for you or your kids and fun ways to spend your free time. Take our quiz to discover which of our Neighbors share your interests, and reach out to them via their LinkedIn profiles for advice on building a life in Pittsburgh.

* * * and are initiatives of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving the economy and quality of life across the 10-county Pittsburgh region.