Phil Cynar

Carnegie Mellon University professor and Aquion Energy, Inc. Founder and Chief Technology Officer Jay Whitacre describes the creation of a new aqueous hybrid ion battery at his Pittsburgh-based company as “the most exciting work [he's] ever done.” (You can watch our interview with Whitacre here or below.) With the potential to be a game-changer for storing energy from renewable and off-grid sources, Aquion’s new battery has earned every bit of bragging rights. This safe, reliable and affordable unit may just be one of the critical components needed to realize a true portfolio approach to energy. That could advance energy independence – not only for the U.S., but for other countries that depend on foreign oil or gas as their energy mainstays. It’s exciting that this innovation is happening right here in Pittsburgh, and it underscores exactly why the region really is the new center of American energy.

Recently, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, in cooperation with VisitPittsburgh, hosted 15 top national and international journalists – all interested in energy, green building and sustainability – for a three-day study tour focused on Pittsburgh’s assets in these areas, as well as the region’s innovative energy leadership. Aquion in Lawrenceville was just one of the featured locales. Minneapolis-based tour participant Daniel Cusick from Environment & Energy Publishing wrote a feature about Aquion, “ ‘Steel City’ Gets Recharge from the Energy Tech Sector,” published on June 7 on ClimateWire. It’s just the latest of the earned media already garnered from the study tour. Check out links to other such stories here on our blog,

Bill Flanagan

We’re almost halfway through our “Best of the World” year (as so designated by National Geographic Traveler), and the Allegheny Conference, Allegheny County, the city of Pittsburgh and VisitPittsburgh are celebrating worldwide with a special section on our region in the June edition of Delta Air Lines’ Sky Magazine. The series of articles is entitled “Comeback City: The reinvented steel town has jobs, a healthy real estate market, lots of public and private innovation – and billions of dollars of natural gas.” In addition to appearing in seatback pockets on Delta flights worldwide throughout June — reaching a readership of about 5 million — a digital version of the supplement will be available on the Sky website for the next 12 months.

The partnership with Sky is a centerpiece of our strategy to reach visitors to the region while they’re here and en route. Working with VisitPittsburgh, VibrantPittsburgh and numerous partners, and thanks to support from Lamar, Pittsburgh Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and WQED-TV, we targeted delegates to the National Society of Black Engineers convention in March and competitors here for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May. Next up is the National Association of Counties (NACo) conference in July and the One Young World Summit in October. Our objective is not just to show these visitors a good time but to send them home as ambassadors who can plant the seeds about our region as a dynamic place to invest, work, go to school, visit or play.

You may be interested in two upcoming opportunities to roll up your sleeves and welcome the nation and the world to our region. First, the local host committee for NACo, led by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, is looking for several hundred volunteers to help with that event from July 13-17. NACo will bring thousands of county officials to our region from across the country, and will feature such speakers as retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and humorist Dave Barry. If you’re interested in helping, please email Paulette Zanotti (pzpz1 AT comcast DOT net), whom you may have met during the G-20 when she volunteered in our media welcome center.

After NACo we’ll be gearing up to welcome the world again – a somewhat younger version of it – for the One Young World Summit in October. I’m told there are still opportunities to send delegates. The One Young World Pittsburgh Partnership, co-chaired by Greg Babe of Bayer Corp. and Sy Holzer of PNC Bank, is asking local companies with national and global operations to consider sponsoring delegates, using the summit to introduce high potential employees to Pittsburgh as well as to fellow emerging leaders. Talk about a way to build a global network of contacts!

You can find details about how to sponsor delegates and how to register at

In the meantime, pick up a copy of Sky next time you board the Delta trip to Paris. You are, of course, using this nonstop flight as your gateway to Europe and the world beyond, aren’t you? Delta has resumed five-day-a-week service through the busy summer travel months. Since there’s no longer any public or private sector guarantee supporting the flight, it’s up to the market to make it work. If we want continued and enhanced nonstop transatlantic air service, it’s critically important that business and leisure travelers support this flight when it makes sense for them. You can learn more at

Ben Kamber

Pittsburgh Region: A Green Tourism Destination

If you think tourism in Pittsburgh is stagnant at best, then you haven’t been paying attention to recent trends. Just in Allegheny County, tourism and travel represents a $4.8 billion economic impact and in the broader region this number grows to $7.8 billion. Hotel occupancy is up (69 percent in Pittsburgh compared to the 60 percent national average) even after the number of available rooms grew by 50 percent over the past decade. This growth has been supported by the region becoming a premier destination for green and sustainable experiences. The region’s newest green asset, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, is expected to be one of the greenest building in the world. Phipps Executive Director Richard Piacentini is joined by VisitPittsburgh CEO Craig Davis to discuss Pittsburgh’s standing as a green tourism destination and the overall growth of tourism and travel in the region.

Millionaires Row Mansion Converted Into Boutique Hotel

Located in a striking example of turn-of-the-century architecture, the Mansions on Fifth Hotel in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood promises its occupants a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Built in 1906 by Willis McCook, one of the nation’s first corporate attorneys, the nearly 25,000 square foot mansion was recently renovated by husband and wife team Mary Del Brady and Richard Pearson to provide Pittsburgh visitors with a one-of-a-kind hotel option. Del Brady and Pearson are joined by Michael Kuhn of Jendoco Construction Corporation to take you on an exclusive tour of the hotel and discuss some of the challenges in renovating this 100 year old building.

Travel Ready MD: Protecting Your Health While Abroad

Who would have known that at this summer’s London Olympics, preparations are now underway to control a huge measles outbreak? If you’re planning an upcoming international excursion to London or elsewhere, you may want to check out Travel Ready MD — a company that provides advance consultation and medical services for anyone traveling abroad. Founder of Travel Ready MD, Dr. Sarah Kohl, discusses why she started the company and what people should be asking themselves before heading off on their next global destination.

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.

A leading commercial real estate developer has underscored its faith in the regional market by breaking ground for construction of an office building Cranberry Township in anticipation of anchor tenants.

Elmhurst Group broke ground on May 25 on a Class A office building at Cranberry Crossroads, its 24-acre site along Route 228 that will also be home to a Dick’s Sporting Goods store, a restaurant and multi-tenant retail buildings.

From left: Cranberry Twp. Supervisor John Skorupan; Jim Noland, The ERECT Fund; Elmhurst Group President Bill Hunt; Andy Gildersleeve, Director of Development/Construction for Elmhurst Group; Butler County Commissioners Dale Pinkerton and Bill McCarrier.

The three-story, 90,000-square-foot office development will offer highly visible signage, parking space for 360 vehicles and easy access to Interstate 79, the Turnpike and Route 19. The building will be completed in late 2012.

Class A space is coveted in Butler County’s Cranberry Township, where sectors including energy, health care and life sciences are growing, and such large employers as Westinghouse Electric Co., McKesson and Siemens already make their home.

“Elmhurst is pleased to move forward with Cranberry Crossroads, not only because of the growth with the Cranberry market, but also because our location is ‘Main and Main’ within that very market,” said Elmhurst Group President Bill Hunt.

Dewitt Peart, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, which markets the 10-county region for business relocation and attraction, congratulated Hunt and Elmhurst for their vision and commitment to the region.

“The speculative development comes in response to strong demand, and is a sign of the developer’s confidence in the region’s real estate market,” Peart said.

The construction is supported by a $1.9 million loan from the Commonwealth Financing Authority through the Building PA program, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Building PA provides financing to eligible developers in small and mid-sized communities to help grow and diversify the economy. Cranberry Crossing is expected to create at least 300 jobs, the department said.

Elmhurst Group is a commercial real estate business founded 36 years ago. It operates more than 2.5 million square feet of office, hotel, distribution and flex space at 18 sites across western Pennsylvania, and employs 200 people.



Ben Kamber

As co-chair of Gov. Tom Corbett’s manufacturing advisory council, Carlos Cardoso, chairman, president and CEO of Latrobe-headquartered Kennametal, is providing leadership to help boost manufacturing in Pennsylvania. He says that while the industry is leading the economic recovery — with manufacturing representing 12 percent of GDP and nearly $100 billion in output in Pennsylvania — there is still work that must be done to build upon this growth. He discusses how the governor’s council is approaching this task and points out that manufacturing continues to provide middle-class incomes to those who choose it as a career.

With its young engineering program, Kennametal is working to inspire the next generation to choose engineering as a career field. Two recent graduates of the program, Angela Peretti and Austin Faddish from Greater Latrobe High School, talk about their experiences at Kennametal and why they are choosing to continue their engineering studies. They’re joined by Kennametal’s Carlos Cardoso who discusses the company’s investment in the program.

With 37 percent of high net worth individuals in America being women, it’s important that independent financial advice is sought out from a trusted team of wealth management advisors. But as Leslie Liebscher and Dawna Kopko from PNC Wealth Management point out, two thirds of women do not consult with a financial advisor and often leave financial management in the hands of their husbands or other family members. Liebscher and Kopko offer some tips to help women take control of their own financial assets.

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
Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky (credit WHIRL magazine – Pittsburgh)

Clothes don’t make the man – as the maxim reminds – but it’s a pretty sure bet that the books and other publications that an individual reads do help to “dress” opinions, insights and inspirations. Recently, Essential Public Radio 90.5 (WESA) launched a series called Speaking Volumes to probe what Pittsburgh’s newsmakers are reading. Among the newsmakers with whom Josh Raulerson from the station spoke is Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky. His interview aired on the station, the local National Public Radio affiliate, during Morning Edition. It will also air on Wednesday during the noon hour Essential Pittsburgh program. If you can’t tune in, no worries.  The audio file is available on the station’s website, along with a brief written summary.

If your curiosity about Yablonsky’s favorite and/or recommended reads is piqued, here are three:  Outlaw Platoon by Sean Parnell, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Out of This Furnace by Thomas Bell. To find out exactly why these books made the cut, check out the website brief or listen to Yablonsky explain why in his own words.