Ben Kamber

Fostering Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh’s Underserved Neighborhoods

Urban Innovation21 recently announced the first 20 companies to receive seed grants and business support services to help drive growth in Pittsburgh’s underserved communities. The top grant awardee is Artistry Greenscapes, a 20-year strong, full-service landscape company that has provided landscaping for such locations at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and Market Square. Artistry’s president and CEO Ken Ross is joined by William Generett, Jr., president and CEO of Urban Innovation21 to discuss the program and how it aims to connect companies to Pittsburgh’s vibrant ecosystem.

Hola Pittsburgh: Growing Pittsburgh’s Hispanic Population

A century ago, Pittsburgh’s population was one of the most diverse in the nation as European immigrants flocked to the region in search of opportunity. Yet today, Pittsburgh is one of America’s least diverse regions – especially among Hispanics. A new partnership called “Hola Pittsburgh” is working to change this by marketing the opportunities available in the region to Hispanics. Victor Diaz, a board member with the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is joined by Vibrant Pittsburgh’s Melanie Harrington and the Pittsburgh Promise’s Saleem Ghubril to discuss what’s in store for the initiative.

Sherlock: The Next Big Thing in the Big Data World

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s latest supercomputer – the 14th in its 26-year history – is truly cutting edge. Called Sherlock, this mega machine is able to crunch huge amounts of data and can have beneficial applications for businesses throughout the Pittsburgh region. Dr. Nick Nystrom, director of strategic applications at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center discusses what makes Sherlock unique and how businesses can take advantage of its computing prowess.

Our Region’s Business airs Sundays at 11 a.m. on WPXI-TV. Hosted by the Allegheny Conference’s Bill Flanagan, the 30-minute business affairs program is co-produced with Cox Broadcasting. The program is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and at 3:30 p.m. Mondays. It also airs Sundays on WJAC-TV (Johnstown-Altoona) at 6 a.m. and WTOV-TV (Wheeling-Steubenville) at 6:30 a.m.

Meredith Fahey

The success of ShaleNET – linking more than 2,000 people with Marcellus Shale industry-related jobs – was recently profiled in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a front page “Sunday Business” story.  As P-G Energy and Business Reporter Erich Schwartzel notes in the article, there is not one unique “student profile.” People come to these trainings from all walks of life and parts of the country hoping to get trained and find potentially high earning employment in the oil and gas sector. The common attribute of those who succeed is that they are hard-working folks, willing to put in long hours in outdoor conditions. Training classes now are available throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and shortly, Texas.

ShaleNET will soon be expanding its reach, both in terms of geography and skills training. Started in 2010 as an entry-level jobs training program supported by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, last fall ShaleNET was awarded an additional $14.9 million follow on grant. With the maturing of the industry and with the additional money, participants will be able to continue their education and training by earning certificates and two-year degrees that will help them find jobs in the midstream and downstream part of the industry – that is, beyond the drill rigs and in the processing of oil and natural gas.

The original founders of ShaleNET – the Allegheny Conference, Pennsylvania College of Technology and Westmoreland County Community College – partnered with Stark State College in Canton, Ohio, and Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, for this second round funding, with the hope of scaling ShaleNET to become a national job training and education model.

To learn more, visit ShaleNET.org and view the video below to learn more about how partnerships are expanding workforce training opportunities in the U.S. under the ShaleNET banner.

Ben Kamber

Catalyst Connection Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Catalyst Connection is marking 25 years of partnering with regional businesses to drive development in our region’s vibrant manufacturing sector. A lot has changed over the years — not least of which is manufacturing’s growth in recent years. In 2011, manufacturing in the region grew by 13 percent in output and added 2 percent more jobs. Petra Mitchell, CEO of Catalyst Connection and Raymond Yeager, president and CEO of DMI companies discuss these positive trends and the need to convince young people that manufacturing can offer them a bright future.

PNC: Global Economy Showing Signs of Improvement

There’s reason for cautious optimism when evaluating the state of the global economy in the beginning of 2013. That’s the assessment of Bill Adams, senior international economist at PNC Financial Services Group, who says internationally, the economy is off to a stronger start in 2013 compared to its ending in 2012. Adams discusses what is driving this assessment and whether Europe’s economic woes still threaten America’s economic recovery.

Social Media in the Workplace

As Twitter and Facebook usage in the workplace rises, how do employees police this? And should they? Allison Feldstein and Andrew Quesnelle, attorneys with Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellot, and experts on the legality of social media in the workplace, provide tips for employers in dealing with this growing issue.

Our Region’s Business airs Sundays at 11 a.m. on WPXI-TV. Hosted by the Allegheny Conference’s Bill Flanagan, the 30-minute business affairs program is co-produced with Cox Broadcasting. The program is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and at 3:30 p.m. Mondays. It also airs Sundays on WJAC-TV (Johnstown-Altoona) at 6 a.m. and WTOV-TV (Wheeling-Steubenville) at 6:30 a.m.

Phil Cynar
Seegrid’s robotics technology transforms industrial vehicles into unmanned, automated pallet trucks and tow tractors.
Seegrid’s robotics technology transforms industrial vehicles into unmanned, automated pallet trucks and tow tractors.

Fast Company magazine has released its 2013 list of “Most Innovative Companies” featuring “the businesses whose innovations are having the greatest impacts across their industries and our culture as a whole.” Two Pittsburgh-connected companies made the list – Modcloth (under the category of style) and industrial robot manufacturer Seegrid, which now has both headquarters and manufacturing operations in a former U.S. Airways facility in the Pittsburgh International Airport corridor.  The following Q & A is excerpted from an article about Seegrid published last summer in The Pittsburgh Regional Compact Quarterly, an e-newsletter formerly published by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

Robotics manufacturer Seegrid, located in the Pittsburgh International Airport corridor, is growing in the Pittsburgh region. How did the company get its start and what exactly is it designing and manufacturing here?

Seegrid was co-founded in 2003 by Dr. Hans Moravec and Dr. Scott Friedman and is proud to be among the cutting-edge companies that call Pittsburgh home. The company is a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University and has remained in the Pittsburgh area. Both Moravec and Friedman knew the company’s vision-guided technology could play a major role for ground vehicles and would revolutionize the material handling and supply chain industries. They recognized there was a more advanced and efficient way to move product from point A to point B – robots not operators. Seegrid’s technology transforms industrial vehicles into unmanned, automated pallet trucks and tow tractors that operate without the need for wire, laser, tape or magnet. Seegrid robots optimize workflow processes by increasing productivity and reducing costs, creating economic and operational advantages. Seegrid’s robots are manufactured exclusively in Pittsburgh and support U.S. manufacturing and warehousing companies, keeping the U.S. at the forefront of innovation and technology. 

Seegrid’s robots:  made (exclusively) in Pittsburgh.
Seegrid’s robots: made (exclusively) in Pittsburgh.

What is it about the region that not only keeps Seegrid located here, but that’s also keeping it growing?

The Pittsburgh region is home to leading technology corporations and high-tech innovative small businesses. Pittsburgh also houses the world-renowned Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, from which Seegrid is a spin-off. The company is pleased to be in a region that fosters technology innovation and business growth, while delivering a workforce that is skilled in high-tech manufacturing and engineering. Seegrid is passionate about being a good corporate citizen for Pittsburgh. Supporting education initiatives in science and technology locally allows the company to build a strong future workforce.

 

What’s it like working at Seegrid?

Joining the Seegrid team is becoming part of a family. The company prides itself on providing a work environment that allows employees to grow and increase skill sets. There are substantial opportunities for hard-working and talented individuals with different career backgrounds. Seegrid is agile and adapts to the needs of the marketplace while being deeply committed to investing in the team.

Phil Cynar
Architecturally stunning, the CSL is a Living Building that produces all of its own renewable energy and treats and reuses its wastewater. Credit: Denmarsh Photography, Inc.
Architecturally stunning, the CSL is a Living Building that produces all of its own renewable energy and treats and reuses its wastewater. Credit: Denmarsh Photography, Inc.

While there may still be people who can’t imagine that the “Steel City,” tarnished once by infamous industrial pollution, could ever be clean and green, Pittsburgh – perhaps better fitted now with an “Emerald City” moniker – is a green building leader and home to one of the greenest buildings in the world:  the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). Located at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the CSL opens to the public today with self-guided tours as part of a visitor’s experience at Phipps.

The city and the entire 10-county Pittsburgh region of southwestern Pennsylvania are globally recognized for innovation in sustainability and green building techniques and products, as they relate to energy – one of the region’s key economic sectors – and its efficiency. This achievement is in addition to the city’s monumental cleanup of its air and water resources, which began the 1940s.

Pittsburgh’s penchant for green is now showcased in the CSL at Phipps, a facility which houses the organization’s environmental education and research programs. The facility not only produces all of its own renewable energy with solar panels, geothermal wells and a wind turbine, but it also treats and reuses all water captured on site. It is surrounded by a restorative landscape and a green rooftop featuring native plants, and there are a lagoon, rain gardens and constructed wetlands to help visitors better understand and appreciate how delicate nature is, especially in light of humans’ demands on it.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the CSL, using interpretive signage and kiosks to explore one of Earth’s greenest buildings. Credit: Denmarsh Photography, Inc.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the CSL, using interpretive signage and kiosks to explore one of Earth’s greenest buildings. Credit: Denmarsh Photography, Inc.

Visitors can explore the CSL via interpretive and interactive signage and kiosks and view a “Green Gallery” of changing photography and art exhibits. In warmer weather, visitors will be able to explore the green outdoors, including meandering paths, a boardwalk, hillside amphitheater, a fountain and wildlife habitats.

Incorporating plenty of innovation and products that are born of the region, the center represents “green Pittsburgh under one roof” and points to how smarter energy usage and reducing the impact of the built environment on Mother Nature can be not only beautiful, but uber-efficient. Phipps officials and other community leaders hope that it will be a model for the world. The facility can demonstrate how possible it is to embrace Living Building architectural and landscapes standards, which go beyond the more familiar Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. And it further positions “Emerald City” Pittsburgh as the go-to place for this advanced thought leadership, as well as for products and services to construct the greenest of buildings.

Read more about the Center for Sustainable Landscapes from the Phipps website, and check out these stories about the CLS and its potential for Pittsburgh, as presented here on ImaginePittsburghNow.com. There’s also a video interview with Living Building Challenge Creator Jason McLennan captured when he visited Pittsburgh last spring.

ImaginePittsburghNow

Through the latter part of the 20th century, the Pittsburgh region’s population has been less ethnically diverse than that of other U.S. cities of similar size. That is slowly changing, however, as a small-but-growing number of immigrants and internationals are drawn to our stable economy and educational offerings, including the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program to city school graduates. The region has also become a haven to refugees rebuilding their lives after fleeing unrest in places like Bhutan, Myanmar, Iraq and Africa.

Aiding in the transition is the Allegheny County Department of Human Services’s Immigration and International Advisory Council. As Adriana Dobrzycka of Vibrant Pittsburgh says, the council is “facilitating connections and multiplying scarce resources” to help international newcomers build on their own strengths while integrating into the Pittsburgh community.

You can read more about the department’s work – and that of such partner organizations as Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Pittsburgh Muslim Family Support Services and the Latino Family Center — in a new report, “Lessons from the DHS Immigrant and International Advisory Council.” It’s the second .pdf document on this page.