Bill Flanagan

I hauled myself into our region in 1982, the year before Pittsburgh hit rock bottom with its 18 percent metro jobless rate. I’ve joked over the years that I was one of the few 20-somethings moving in when so many people my age were moving out. (The region lost about 50,000 people in 1984 alone.)

One sure sign, I noted: all the U-Haul trailers headed the other way as I headed toward Pittsburgh.

It was an exaggeration, of course. I don’t remember all that many U-Hauls, although in those days it was pretty cheap to rent a trailer if you were headed toward Pittsburgh.

Well, the “U-Haul Index” has reversed itself.

The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that our region topped a national survey of moving trends in 2012, with the highest percentage growth of people moving in to the region.

Pittsburgh ranked Number One on the U-Haul 2012 National Migration Trend Report, using U-Haul data for regions with more than 5,000 people moving in a year. We were up 9.04 percent.

Metro Pittsburgh beat all other parts of the United States, including Austin, Texas (up 7.3 percent), San Francisco (up 6.8 percent) and Dallas (up 3.2 percent).

The top ranking as a “city for growth” is yet another indication of the remarkable run our region had over the past five years, during which Pittsburgh was one of the first three metropolitan areas to fully recover from the Great Recession, according to the Brookings Institution.

Things have slowed down in recent months, as growth in other metros that fell a lot harder during the recession has begun to accelerate. We’ve also felt the effect of government cutbacks — not just in government jobs, which were down 2.8 percent in February, but in sectors like arts, entertainment and recreation, and educational services that depend on government funding.

At the same time, we’re growing where it counts – in the five sectors the region targeted about 20 years ago. They are advanced manufacturing, financial and business services, energy, healthcare and life sciences, and information and communications technology. Employment in these sectors increased by 1.9 percent in February, a bit below the national average but twice the statewide rate of 1 percent.

All of which may help to account for all those U-Hauls with out-of-state plates you may be seeing around town — you know, the ones that are unloading here.

Meredith Fahey

DineAroundFacebookPittsburgh is a friendly region. Nowhere else can you find the “Pittsburgh left,”  that courtesy that allows a driver to (usually) sneak in a quick left-hand turn before opposing traffic proceeds when a stoplight turns green. But friendliness, courtesy and politeness only go so far when making newcomers feel like Pittsburgh is home. In a broader effort to extend the welcome past hello and connect people, Vibrant Pittsburgh, the World’s Affairs Council and Pop City Media have teamed up to host local Dine Arounds for newcomers.

Building upon the hugely successful home dinners hosted by Pittsburghers during the One Young World Summit, the first Dine Around for newcomers will take place Saturday, April 20, and will be hosted at various homes throughout the city. It will be an opportunity to introduce newcomers to Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers but it will also introduce locals to the many interesting globally minded folks who have chosen to move to our region.

Since 2008 more people have been moving to the region than are leaving. In the past five years,  the number of 20- to 34-year-olds grew by 7 percent, and are expected to grow by another 8 percent by 2020, according to economic forecasting models by the University of Pittsburgh’s  Center for Social and Urban Research. This is good news for a region with one of the oldest populations in the nation and good for future Dine Arounds.

Contact Vibrant Pittsburgh or Pop City Media for more information, to participate in the event or to express interest in participating in future Dine Arounds.

Ben Kamber

TechShop Opens Newest Location in East Liberty’s Bakery Square

Billed as a Kinko’s for geeks or a 24-hour fitness center for makers, TechShop has brought its makers paradise to Pittsburgh. Founded in California in 2006, TechShop is a membership-based, do-it-yourself fabrication studio that provides more than $1 million of professional equipment and software to budding entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to life. Mark Hatch, TechShop’s CEO is joined by Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works and Jeff Thompson, president of the Product Management and Development Association, to discuss TechShop’s offerings and the impact this new location will have on Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial community.

Business Bout Champion Crowned; Start-Up Incubator Launched

What began several years ago as a backyard gathering to help connect young professionals in Pittsburgh has morphed into a full-scale business plan competition that recently awarded $25,000, its biggest prize to date, to Project Aura – a bike safety lighting company started by two CMU undergrads. The overall effort, which now includes a start-up incubator in East Liberty, is called the Thrill Mill and is the brainchild of College Prowler CEO Luke Skurman and several friends including Bobby Zappala, Thrill Mill’s CEO. Skurman and Zappala are joined by Jonathan Ota and Ethan Frier to discuss what’s next for the Thrill Mill and why Project Aura was chosen as this round’s winner.

Pittsburgh Technology Council Celebrates 30 Years of Helping to Build Region’s Tech Sector

Thirty years ago, civic, business and university leaders came together to form the Pittsburgh High Technology Council – a collaborative organization committed to building Pittsburgh’s technology driven economy. Today, technology and innovation are integral to many of Pittsburgh’s most impactful economic sectors from manufacturing to financial and business services. Audrey Russo, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council sits down to reflect on the organization’s history and successes over the years.

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.

Barbara McNees

Please join me at for an important conversation about increasing equity in the Pittsburgh region’s workplaces.

We are kicking off the 2013 ATHENA Awards season with a panel discussion, “Women in Leadership: The Male Point of View” at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, April 25.

Athena is often depicted holding both a shield and a spear with an owl flying nearby representing her reliance on force tempered by wisdom and strategy.
Athena is often depicted holding both a shield and a spear with an owl flying nearby representing her reliance on force tempered by wisdom and strategy.

Taking its name from the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards recognize exceptional women who demonstrate excellence in their profession, contribute to their community and help other women to succeed through mentorship. The spring event launches the call for nominations, which are due June 28. Two awards will be given at the Sept. 30 luncheon, one of the largest annual gatherings among the hundreds of ATHENA International-affiliated events presented around the world.

With the recent publication of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, discussion has been re-ignited about the persistent absence of women in top business leadership roles. While a record number of American CEOS are now female, there are just 18 women – less than four percent of the total – leading Fortune 500 companies.

Networking and continental breakfast begins at 8 a.m.; discussion follows at 8:30 a.m.

Panelists include:

  • John Barbour, CEO, Managing Director/Chairman of the Board, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
  • Robert Krizner, Managing Partner, KPMG, LLP
  • Daniel Roderick, President and CEO, Westinghouse Electric Company

Bill Flanagan, Allegheny Conference Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations and host of WPXI-TV’S Our Region’s Business, will moderate.

Tickets are $25 (continental breakfast included) and may be purchased here before April 22.

Bill Flanagan

Newspapers2013 is a bit of an anniversary year for the Pittsburgh region and for the Allegheny Conference and its affiliates.

Our organization traces its roots back to 1943, 70 years ago, when civic leaders pulled together a “Committee for Postwar Planning” that assessed the region’s competitive position and what to do about it.

Turned out there was a lot to do, as Pittsburgh was choked with smoke-filled skies and dirty rivers that flooded pretty much every spring. So, the public and private sector leaders set a few priorities, including flood and smoke control, urban redevelopment and regional sanitation and began building the tools they’d need to address them. One of those tools was the Conference itself, which was formed in 1944 as a way to bring together the private sector as an effective partner with government.The rest, as they say, is history.

And, as ImaginePittsburghNow.com has noted previously, 2013 is also the 30th anniversary of another watershed year: 1983, when our economy hit rock bottom. The metro jobless rate was 18 percent thanks to a deep global recession and the collapse of our industrial base. The following year 50,000 people moved out of the region.

In 2013, of course, we’re celebrating a great American comeback, the result of two generations of civic leadership that re-imagined and re-made our region. Pittsburgh’s one of the first U.S. metros to fully recover from the Great Recession, having become one of the top 10 regions in the U.S. for business investment, with the largest workforce in our history.

We focused on all this during a recent membership meeting. While searching through the archives to prepare for the event, we stumbled on a vintage newsreel that tells the story of 250 years of Pittsburgh progress. Amazingly, the newsreel begins in 1763 and runs all the way up to present day.

We thought you might enjoy it.

Phil Cynar

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance has announced its regional economic development scorecard, focused on business investment and job creation/retention during 2012 across all 10 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania.

The region performed well, according the PRA – the region’s economic development marketing organization – and not only in 2012. It has seen five years of sustained economic development activity since 2008.

Such levels of activity caused the Washington, D.C.-based think tank The Brookings Institution, to recognize Pittsburgh as one of only three U.S. metros to be fully recovered from the recession. Returns to pre-recession levels of investment, employment levels and gross domestic product were all considered by Brookings.

Watch the video below featuring C-level leadership from three Pittsburgh region companies that were among the economic development deals or “wins” of 2012:  Scott Pearson of Aquion Energy, Juergen Fritsch of M*Modal and William McNamara of United Lender Services. Each answers the question, “why Pittsburgh?” with regard to company growth announced last year, including new job creation.

And read the complete story on deals of 2012 which were across all 10 regional counties and touched all of the region’s five key industry sectors:  advanced manufacturing, energy, financial and business services, healthcare and life sciences and information and communications technology.