Cassie Buseck

Working in an industry deemed “unforgiving,” Environmental Service Laboratories (ESL) has succeeded despite the odds over the past 12 years with significant employment growth and geographic expansion. Beginning with two employees in 1988, the company has evolved into a 70-person operation, 30 of whom have been added since the Marcellus Shale boom.

Environmental Service Laboratories has been recognized as an Impact Company, a unique subset of firms that are helping create 60-80 percent of new jobs in the Pittsburgh region. The Impact Company initiative is a project of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, a 10-county coalition that markets the benefits of doing business in southwestern Pennsylvania, and assists companies looking to relocate or expand here.

Environmental Service Laboratories opened locations in Washington  and Lycoming counties in 2007 and 2011, respectively. Beginning as a company within the Indiana County’s Small Business Incubator, Environmental Service Laboratories is as a woman-owned (certified WBE/SERB) lab that provides a comprehensive range of analytical testing, consulting and field sampling services.

Originally focused on conventional oil and gas drilling, the company has diversified into numerous emerging industries. ESL’s customers now include industrial facilities, government entities and engineering firms. Changes in regulations around hydrofracturing in the Marcellus Shale has also driven growth. In addition, ESL is accredited to test drinking water, wastewater, soil, solid materials, natural gas, frozen dairy products, meat, children’s products and lead in paint.

In addition, Environmental Service Laboratories was recognized at the annual SBA Awards Luncheon, receiving the inaugural Chairman’s Award for Pittsburgh Impact Companies.  (You can read more about that here). CEO  Elizabeth Gregg and COO Michael Moyer  recently appeared on the Sunday morning news show Our Region’s Business. View the video below to hear directly from Gregg and Moyer.

And check out Gregg’s video from the SBA awards here. To learn more about the Impact Company initiative, go to

Bonnie Pfister

The Sept. 24 Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon has once again sold out. One of the season’s most popular networking events will recognize eight women chosen as finalists for the ATHENA Award and Young Professional Award.

These women will be recognized for their professional excellence, contributions to the community and mentorship of other women at the at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. At the event, one finalist each will become the 2012 ATHENA Award recipient, while another will be chosen for the Young Professional award, which recognizes a woman age 35 or younger who acts as a role model to other women.

The finalists, selected among dozens of impressive nominees, compose a varied and distinguished group – each woman using her leadership to create professional excellence and positive regional impact.

Find out who the finalists are at, and check out photos from the Aug. 23 nominees reception on our Imagine Pittsburgh Flickr page, or below.

Presented by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards Program is made possible by support from the ESB Bank; FedEx Ground; UPMC Health Plan; Bank of America/Merrill Lynch; Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh Business Times; Pittsburgh Magazine; Pop City; WTAE-TV; Athena Bottled Water; Best of the Batch Foundation; Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC; Fox Rothschild, LLP; Mascaro Construction Company, LP;  Sisterson & Co. LLP; and TiER1 Performance Solutions.

Ben Kamber

PNC’s Lantern Building at 600 Liberty Ave is shining a light on Pittsburgh’s formidable past and illustrious future. Part of the bank’s nationwide Legacy Project, the recently opened 800 square foot building provides an exhibit that interactively illuminates the region’s renaissances through multimedia experiences that are free and open to the public. PNC’s Brian Goerke and David O’Neill, a consultant on PNC’s Legacy Project, discuss the exhibit’s many illuminating features.

Allegheny County Airport Marks Midfield Terminal’s 20th Anniversary
Allegheny County Airport’s Midfield Terminal turns 20 in October and  it’s been a bit of a rocky ride over the years for this once major hub for U.S. Airways. While the bankruptcy of U.S. Airways a decade ago greatly diminished the number of flight offerings — an issue that continues — flights cost less on average today than at comparable airports. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Brad Penrod, CEO of the Airport Authority discuss what plans are in store to increase air service moving forward.

Allegheny Conference Recognized Nationally for Sustained Regional Stewardship
The Allegheny Conference on Community Development was awarded the “Ten Award” for Distinguished Achievement in Sustained Stewardship by the Alliance for Regional Stewardship. The “Ten Award” recognizes the Allegheny Conference’s contributions to the principles and practice of sustainable regional development over the past decade. Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky explains how a shared strategic vision supported by engaged business and civic leaders led to this national recognition for our region.

Bill Flanagan Reflects on 30 Years in Pittsburgh
Few broadcast journalists are in one place long enough to report on the polar extremes of stories. Bill Flanagan, who is celebrating 30 years in Pittsburgh this month, has had the unique opportunity to report on the fall and remarkable rise of the Pittsburgh region. Bill reflects on his 30 years covering the Pittsburgh region’s economy and what the many highs and lows along the way have taught him about our region’s capacity to persevere and thrive.

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.

Bill Flanagan
SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

You hear it again and again, the people of the Pittsburgh region really set the place apart – and our myriad neighborhoods and communities provide a sense of place whether you live in the heart of the city, a suburb or a distinctive small town.  The Economist recently ranked Pittsburgh as the most livable place in the continental United States (edged out by Honolulu for the top spot for the nation as a whole – but still not bad company).  We’ve made one global “most-livable” list or another for the past five years running.  And of course, we’re still celebrating our “Best of the World” year in 2012, as rated by National Geographic Traveler.

Now has weighed in with a new feature called “re-discover: the soul of your favorite cities.”  One of them is Pittsburgh.  It’s not a ranking – there are profiles of plenty of other places, too.  But it’s really worth taking a few minutes to view the ‘burgh and its neighborhoods through the videos on the site, stories told through the eyes of four people who live here. Check it out here.

The timing of all of this couldn’t be any better as we prepare to welcome the world back to our region in October during the One Young World Summit.  Although not on the scale of the G-20 in 2009, the event will bring well over one thousand young people from around the planet to Pittsburgh.  With dozens of breakout sessions and community dinners planned, these delegates will get a much better sense of the place than the world leaders ever did.

Over the past few decades, the Pittsburgh region has become a place of refuge for many displaced internationals fleeing war and ethnic persecution in their home countries — places like Iraq, Bhutan and Nepal. Although these refugees are legally permitted to work in the U.S. and are often highly skilled and well educated, they find navigating a foreign job market challenging.

Participants in Allegheny County's Refugee Career Mentoring Program, Fall 2011

However, with the help of the Refugee Career Mentoring Program, the gap created by such cultural differences is narrowing. Beginning Sept. 13, the program will once again match displaced individuals with local career mentors who will guide them through basic job searching techniques. Mentors are not expected to provide jobs; rather, through monthly workshops and one-on-one meetings, they act as a resource to provide insight about the U.S. job market. Additionally, the program offers guest speakers who host mock interviews, workplace tours, job shadows, networking events and resume writing workshops.

The program launched in September 2011, and is a collaborative of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Catholic Charities and Diocese of Pittsburgh, Department of Human Services, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, Jewish Family & Children Services, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and Vibrant Pittsburgh. Last year, 10 refugees, primarily in the engineering field, were matched with qualified mentors. This year, a group of mentees in fields ranging from computer science to human resources are looking to achieve the same improvements in confidence and successes in job-seeking.

Those interested in volunteering as a mentor or guest speaker are asked to contact Andrea Longini at the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, alongini AT trwib DOT org.

Dennis Yablonsky

Our region has temporarily averted crippling transit cutbacks thanks to Tuesday’s agreement by Allegheny County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide funding to keep buses and light-rail trains rolling for another year. (You can read the news release from the county here, and the Allegheny Conference’s release here.)

As you know, ensuring reliable, competitive transit service is a goal of our strategy to Strengthen Communities. During our agenda-setting process last year, transit and transportation emerged as a top priority among the 766 members and partners who participated in the process. Among younger, “emerging leaders,” reliable transit was the top priority. They told us that transit, more than anything else, would determine our region’s ability to attract and retain talented young people.

Although critically important, today’s announcement is just a first step toward a long-term statewide transportation funding solution that covers highways, roads, bridges, transit, ports and rail. Last year, Governor Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC), on which I served, outlined a realistic and achievable framework for meeting the need for long-term transportation funding.

The Allegheny Conference is committed to working with partners across the region and the state to support the TFAC recommendations and improve transportation infrastructure across the Commonwealth.