Southwestern Pennsylvania’s expertise and ability to address water-relatedneeds are creating business opportunities both at home and abroad.

Such opportunities are detailed in a report by water, environmental and engineering experts from Carnegie Mellon University. It was released Sept. 27 at a conference at ALCOA’s headquarters on the North Shore. Click here or on the slideshow below to see photos from that event.

Conference sponsors the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and Sustainable Pittsburgh also announced creation of a Water Economy Network of business, academic and non-governmental organizations to advance regional water innovation, leverage market development opportunities and solidify southwestern Pennsylvania’s competitive advantage while addressing water challenges here. The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) is a 10-county coalition that markets the benefits of doing business in southwestern Pennsylvania, and assists companies looking to relocate or expand here. Sustainable Pittsburgh builds coalitions to integrate economic prosperity, social equity and environmental quality for communities and businesses.

Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (of which the PRA is an affiliate) noted that Pittsburgh’s signature rivers differentiate the region.

“These abundant supplies of water are important to industry and commerce, but the preservation of them as natural assets is equally critical,” Yablonsky said. “Pittsburgh is globally recognized for investment in striking this balance, and we’re driving innovation related to the sustainability and security of water. We already have a foundation of firms – 3,000-plus strong – with the potential to identify and operate as a regional water cluster.

“And there’s room for more,” he added. “The implementation of the report released today and the formation of the WEN can help existing businesses access new water-related opportunities and will encourage new business ventures and job creation in a cluster that embraces supply and treatment, components, services and transportation related to water. This will position the Pittsburgh region to be a national center for excellence for the water industry overall.”

Jeanne VanBriesen, director of CMU’s Center for Water Quality in Urban Environmental Systems and a report co-author, said, “In developing the Sustainable Water Innovation report, we collaborated with a cross-section of regional stakeholders to evaluate past successful projects relating to water to identify criteria for future sustainable and innovative projects.

“The demonstration projects presented in this report help set the path towards distinguishing our region as a leader in water innovation and address water challenges here, while leading the way for other regions,” she added.

Eight projects from four broad areas were identified as potential tasks for a regional water innovation consortium, including:

(1) energy development and water management;

(2) navigation infrastructure, monitoring, and water security;

(3) stormwater and green infrastructure; and

(4) regional watershed and drinking water interactions.

The full report, Sustainable Water Innovation Initiative for Southwestern Pennsylvania can be found at  Pittsburgh’s H2Opportunity: An Assessment of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Water Sector can also be found at this website.

Photos from the Sept. 27 conference:

Phil Cynar

Women are significantly shaping the Pittsburgh region’s future, making their mark on business, government, academia, the non-profit sector and more. And women who mentor other women are advancing their influence exponentially by helping to prepare a new generation of women poised to lead this region.

Nominated by their peers for professional excellence, contributions to the community and their mentorship of other women, exceptional women been recognized with the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Award for more than 20 years.

Today, two more Pittsburgh women were added to the ranks of ATHENA award recipients. They are Judge Kim Berkeley Clark and Christy Uffelman.

A judge in the Fifth Judicial District of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, Clark is the 2012 ATHENA Award recipient. Espousing the professional and personal credo that “nothing is too hard,” Clark has spent the past 14 years focused on the best interests of children in a court known for emotionally trying cases and long hours. She began her career as an assistant district attorney and later served as Allegheny County deputy district attorney, conducting more than 150 jury trials. Clark was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1999 and elected to full 10-year terms in 1999 and 2009. She was the first African American to be named an administrative judge in Allegheny County and the first judge and African American female to serve as president of the Allegheny County Bar Association.

Off the bench, Clark continues to influence the lives of children for the better by giving of her time and talents to the community. She is a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh trustee and a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council Advisory Board, the Pittsburgh Project board of directors and the advisory committee of the Pittsburgh Urban League’s Urban Youth Empowerment Program. A gifted pianist and clarinetist, Clark has cultivated a love of music in children by giving piano lessons at Homewood’s Afro-American Music Institute.

The ATHENA Young Professional Award responds to the reality that Pittsburgh’s population is trending younger, with more 20- and 30-year-olds choosing to live and work here. Among this younger population are women who will be tomorrow’s changemakers and leaders. Christy Uffelman is one of those women and the 2012 ATHENA Young Professional Award recipient.

Uffelman is vice president of employee and organization development at Mascaro Construction and the first female member of the company’s executive team. Breaking ground in the traditionally male-dominated construction field, she has co-chaired the Master Builders Association HR Forum and has been a regular speaker for the Associate General Contractors of America and the National Association for Women in Construction.

A lifelong Girl Scout, she’s now a Brownie leader, a Women & Girls Foundation Grantmaking Committee volunteer and the creator of the Strong Leaders Program (SLP) – a fundraising and volunteer pipeline for Strong Women, Strong Girls, a nationally recognized mentoring program empowering women and girls. Uffelman is also the founder of EMPOWER, a group committed to the evolution of women as mothers and professionals.

Check out videos of  Clark and Uffelman, below, and our ImaginePittsburgh Flickr stream of photos below that. You can read more about all of the nominees at, where over the next few days we’ll also be uploading videos of other finalists, as well videos of the awards ceremony itself.

Kim Berkeley Clark from MediaQuest on Vimeo.


From ImaginePittsburgh’s Flickr phototream:

Photos by Scott Smathers for the Allegheny Conference.


The Pittsburgh region is poised to see the number of energy-related careers grow significantly by the end of this decade. There will be jobs for engineers and maintenance technicians, welders and salespeople, jobs requiring post-high school training as well as professional degrees. At the same time, according to a workforce analysis conducted on behalf of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh (EAGP), the opportunity poses significant challenges for workforce development as employers increasingly compete for talent, especially across 14 high-demand, hard-to-fill occupations.

“At a time when our region is already setting all-time records for employment, the ‘help wanted’ sign is out, and it’s likely to stay there for years to come,” said David Porges, chair of the Allegheny Conference Workplace Committee, and chairman, president and CEO of EQT Corporation. “For the energy industry in particular, our challenge is to educate, train and attract enough skilled workers to meet this demand. The good news: we have the tools necessary to make it happen; however, to be successful, we must have business, government and the workforce development system effectively working together towards this common goal.”

The Allegheny Conference and the EAGP released the results of their survey of major energy employers during the quarterly meeting of the Allegheny Conference Regional Investors Council at the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. The detailed analysis, conducted by global talent-management consultancy DDI, involved in-depth interviews with 37 employers representing a cross-section of the 10-county region’s seven energy industries, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, power management and intelligent building. The executive summary is available here.  According to the survey, these 37 companies alone expect to have more than 7,000 jobs to fill through 2020, with about 4,200 of the openings due to retirement and attrition and 2,000 in the 14 high-demand occupations. (Read the executive summary here.)

The survey is suggestive but not predictive of the region’s total energy workforce needs by the end of the decade. The goal of the research was not to make statistical inferences about job numbers, but rather to determine what the greatest need will be and what skills will be most in demand to fill the energy workforce pipeline through the end of the decade.

“This report is unusual because we’re hearing directly from the employers about the positions they must fill in the years to come. This information may help to guide dislocated workers contemplating a career change or young people thinking about their future career options. These are the high demand opportunities emerging in our region,” said Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky. “These occupations include machinists, maintenance techs, welders and the people who supervise them, as well as sales professionals and engineers, family-sustaining jobs with good, long-term career prospects. Fortunately we have time to prepare to meet this demand.”

All but one of the 14 most in-demand jobs across the seven energy-related industries will require more than a high school diploma or GED – typically an associate’s degree or technical certification. Several will require a bachelor’s degree or more.

“We’re not predicting the number of jobs that will be available across the entire energy economy, but these results offer some practical, unequivocal conclusions about what we need to do to continue to grow our economy,” said Laura Fisher, senior vice president, Allegheny Conference, who has overseen the project. “It is essential for employers and businesses to begin now to get the word out about the region’s job opportunities and training and educational resources, and to advocate for better alignment of education and workforce policy, programming and funding.

“We have the building blocks to meet the growing demand. Our region is home to 36 colleges and universities, community colleges and career schools, and nonprofit workforce development organizations, including robust building trades apprenticeship programs. The challenge is to properly align educational and training programs so that students and dislocated workers can make well-informed choices about post-secondary education.”

The Allegheny Conference and the Energy Alliance said that parents and guidance counselors have important roles to play to communicate the emerging opportunity in the region and to encourage boys and girls to seek out STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. It is also important that students develop the critical thinking, communications and other behavioral skills embedded in a well-rounded curriculum. All of these skills are needed to land the most in-demand, high-paying jobs in energy-related and other industries.

“The workplace of the near future – in our country and in the Pittsburgh region – is one in which opportunities are available to anyone with the skills and training to succeed,” Porges said. “We need to make sure that all students are well informed about diverse career opportunities in energy.”

The Allegheny Conference and the EAGP are taking immediate steps to address the region’s workforce opportunity by:

  • Building on the successful ShaleNET workforce development model, a multi-state, comprehensive recruitment, training, placement and retention program for jobs in the gas industry throughout the Marcellus Shale footprint, to target additional high-demand, hard-to-find positions across the energy industries;
  • Increasing public awareness of the breadth of opportunity in the region by enhancing the talent attraction portal and related marketing;
  • Advocating for key structural improvements to the workforce development system in the region and across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and
  • Extending the analysis to include the entire 32-county, greater Pittsburgh region, which includes portions of Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia;

In fact, a new analysis of the energy sector by the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh (an Allegheny Conference affiliate) indicates that the energy sector has an annual $25 billion economic impact – direct and indirect – on the 32-county region, representing 15 percent of its economy. More than 60,000 people are employed in direct energy jobs at 1,700 establishments across the greater region.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development is the parent organization for three affiliates: the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA), the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh. These organizations share a strategic vision and work together to market our region for business investment and talent attraction, conduct research and analysis to improve our competitiveness, and advocate on behalf of business climate and quality-of-life improvements. The Regional Investors Council, made up of more than 300 regional employers, provides the leadership, commitment and resources to move our region forward.

The Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh (EAGP) is a coalition of 100 businesses representing all seven of our region’s energy-related industries. Supported by the staff of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Innovation Works, EAGP advocates for policies that will encourage these industries to flourish here, reaching out worldwide to attract investors and encouraging commercialization of innovations spinning out of our government and university labs.

ShaleNET links industry, workforce investment boards and training providers to ensure local worker placement in six entry-level, family sustaining positions that have been identified as high-priority occupations  by the Pennsylvania Workforce Development, a program of the state’s Department of Labor & Industry. Learn more or register to receive the ShaleNET newsletter at

Phil Cynar

It’s difficult to keep “Emerald City” Pittsburgh – the new Center of American Energy – out of the news. In fact, more pieces have just been published that tout Pittsburgh’s leadership in green building innovation and technology and its role as a model of sustainability when it comes to energy. These articles are a result of the May “Green Pittsburgh” media study tour hosted by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and VisitPittsburgh. A focal point of that tour was the Living Building at Phipps Conservatory:  the Center for Sustainable Landscapes – one of the greenest buildings on the planet.  The Center for Sustainable Landscapes brings together many of the region’s best examples of sustainability and energy innovation under one roof.

But the green goodness doesn’t end there. Green buildings grace the landscape – there are already 83 LEED certified building in the city itself – and more keep sprouting up, in the city and around the entire region. According to the Green Building Alliance in Pittsburgh, sustainability has long been a calling card of new construction in Pittsburgh.The city registered three of the first 12 LEED structures in the country more than a decade ago.

Check out the following articles to learn more about Pittsburgh’s leadership in this sustainability space, which is a significant part of why we’re the New Center of American Energy.

“A Breath of Fresh Air”Slice

“Taking Another Look at Pittsburgh” (Spanish with English translation)Actualidad Economica

“Urban Naturalist: Molly Steinwald (Phipps) Challenges City Kids to Find the Wilderness in a Sidewalk Crack”  - Grist

Click here for additional coverage from our green media tour.

Phil Cynar

The September 2012 issue of Site Selection, the leading publication of the corporate real estate and industry, gives eight pages of ink to our region in a special investment profile, “Pittsburgh: The New Center of American Energy.”  The piece examines the greater region’s emergence “as a U.S. leader in technological innovation in a wide variety of energy sectors.”  More than 24 companies and organizations working in our rapidly growing energy sector and encompass natural resources, the supply chain for both traditional and renewable energy, and energy efficiency technology and innovation.

These organizations illustrate the impact that the public and private sectors, as well as our academic community in greater Pittsburgh, are having on the effort to advance America’s energy independence from Pittsburgh, the place where the energy industry had its birth with the drilling of the first natural gas and oil wells and the building of the first natural gas pipeline, If you don’t subscribe to Site Selection, no worries, You can read the article here, beginning on page 115.

Phil Cynar

I was a late bloomer, so to speak, in picking up a hard copy of Stephen Chbosky’s cult-novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I did so this June, and I was sorry that I’d waited so long. It was a great read about coming of age and somewhat curious, too, as a great deal of the story is conveyed via letters to the reader from the main character, Charlie.

Poolside on vacation in South Beach, I started Perks, and finished it later on a different trip to Arizona. If I had longings for Pittsburgh during my travels, this novel – set in Pittsburgh and rich in hometown imagery – was a perfect antidote. This comes as no surprise as Chbosky is an Upper St. Clair native. His familiarity with the South Hills (my neck of the woods) shone through his writing and created wonderful mental images of all that’s unique and special about Pittsburgh.

Now, the novel has become a film – hitting theaters everywhere on Sept. 28 – and all of those wonderful images of Pittsburgh come to life on the big screen. Best thing ever:  the scenes are filmed here, not in a pseudo-Pittsburgh created in some Hollywood studio.

Pittsburghers themselves won’t be the only ones amazed by our beloved city on the big screen – especially its classic entrance via the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Perks star Emma Watson, famous for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter film series, was pretty amazed herself, and she told America about it on ABC daytime TV’s Live! with Kelly & Michael this morning.

In the video below, Watson recounts an unforgettable scene in which she – stands in the back of a pick-up truck being driven through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.  She described a feeling of flight inspired by the grandeur of Pittsburgh’s nighttime skyline enveloping her as the truck emerges from the tunnel.

“You just burst through into this beautiful, beautiful scene of the whole city stretching out,” Watson said. “I haven’t been able to top it; it’s like one of the best moments of my life.”

She also notes that “Steve” — the novelist-turned-film director — “has been dreaming about filming this shot for over a decade.”

Just think, folks, Hollywood didn’t create this. It’s pure Pittsburgh. And it’s ours. Savor the moment on your next night-time trip through the Fort Pitt. You probably won’t be standing in the back of a pick-up truck when it happens, but it can always be an impossible-to-top moment.

And put The Perks of Being a Wallflower on your must-see movie list for this fall.

Watch the video here or below. Thanks to the staff of 96.1 FM’s Morning Freak Show for posting it.