Barbara McNees

Do you know a woman in the Pittsburgh region who demonstrates excellence in her work and mentorship of other women? Or a younger woman who is emerging as a leader? Nominate them here by June 29, 2012 for the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards.

The ATHENA Award recognizes women who demonstrate excellence in their profession, contribute to their community and help other women to succeed. Former recipients include M.J. Tocci, Bernadette Eyler Smith and Judge Cynthia Baldwin. As in 2011, the local ATHENA committee will also recognize an emerging leader age 35 or younger with the ATHENA Young Professional Award. Last year’s recipient was Jennifer Cairns. (Click here to read more about last year’s awards.)

“The Pittsburgh region is fortunate to have many smart, dynamic women who are mentoring other women and helping them to reach their full potential as leaders,” said Maris Bondi, chair of the ATHENA Host Committee. “But their efforts don’t always get the acknowledgement they deserve. We encourage everyone to look around their own part of Pittsburgh to help us recognize these women at our annual luncheon in September.”

Taking its name from the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon is one of the largest gatherings among the hundreds of ATHENA International-affiliated events presented around the world each year. More than 900 women and men attended the Pittsburgh event in 2011.

Learn more and submit nominations here by 5 p.m. on June 29, 2012.  Nominations will only be accepted online. Please also mark your calendar for the awards luncheon on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh. ESB Bank, FedEx Ground and UPMC Health Plan are this year’s presenting sponsors.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development organizes the annual ATHENA awards ceremony. The Conference and its affiliates – the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania – work with public and private sector partners to stimulate economic growth and enhance the quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Conference is a private sector leadership organization with more than 300 Regional Investors, employers who provide the time, talent and resources to advance this agenda.

Ben Kamber

Optimism is taking hold of small business owners throughout the nation, as PNC’s latest survey indicates that hiring, capital investment, and demand and approval of credit is up. This is especially true in western Pennsylvania, according to PNC Business Banking’s Pete Vaccaro — who says the region weathered the recession better than most of the country. He’s joined by one of these small business owners, Bruce Mallinson of Pittsburgh Power, Inc. — a growing diesel engine efficiency company based in Saxonburg, Pa.

Why don’t some entrepreneurs seek the advice they need? Entrepreneur Raul Valdes-Perez, executive chairman of Vivisimo, sought answers to this question in his forthcoming book, “Advice is for Winners.” He previews the book here and will discuss what he learned during his keynote address at the Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference on May 9, 2012 at Duquesne University.

While our region is well-known for public-private partnerships, less recognition is given to business-labor partnerships — many of which lead to job creation and economic growth. One of these, the 25 year-old ERECT funds, has invested more than $300 million dollars in 75 construction projects. The funds, which were created in 1987 by the union construction trades, are now providing investment for the second phase of the Cork Factory Lofts in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Tad Imbrie of PennTrust discusses the funds’ history and development and the rationale behind them.

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

I recently caught up with Gary Saulson, executive vice president and director of corporate real estate for The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., as the company was clearing the site at Wood Street between Fifth and Forbes avenues for what is expected to be the world’s most environmentally friendly highrise.

The 33-story glass Tower at PNC Plaza will rely heavily on natural light and ventilation, feature high-efficiency heating and cooling system, as well as green rooftops to improve insulation and channel rainwater for re-use. The design team is exploring the use of fuel cells, solar panels, geothermal systems and other alternative power generation sources to reduce carbon emissions.

As Saulson explains in the video clip below, the green philosophy even applies to the demolition … er, “deconstruction” of the buildings that occupied the site. As much as 95 percent of the steel, wood and other salvageable materials in the previous structures will be re-used or recycled. The non-profit building material reuse retailer Construction Junction in Point Breeze is assisting with those efforts.

You can read more about the building — expected to be open for business in 2015 — here.

Bill Flanagan

More than a century ago, Pittsburgh Plate Glass figured out the first commercially viable way to manufacture flat glass. In the years since, it’s evolved into a global coatings company called PPG Industries that remains on the cutting edge of glass as well. Most of its global R&D happens here in the Pittsburgh region and will be an integral part of what’s billed as the world’s largest living building.

 PPG’s first glass plant at Creighton, Pa., along the Allegheny River, pioneered the process of manufacturing glass using the plate process. Photo Copyright PPG Industries, Inc.

It’s the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a place already known as the “greenest” glass house in the world. The new structure takes intelligent building beyond the gold and platinum standard to a whole new level: a facility that generates all its own energy with renewable resources, captures and treats all of its water on-site, and uses resources efficiently and for maximum beauty. There are only three such structures in the world, and Phipps is getting ready to cut the ribbon the biggest one.

In a living demonstration of the power of Pittsburgh, to collaborate and develop new energy-related solutions, a number of regional companies are contributing technology to the new living building. PPG’s contribution includes two types of triple-glazed insulating glass units. Phipps specified PPG glass, says Richard Piacentini, executive director, “because we wanted a low-e (low emissivity), high performing glass that provides state-of-the-art solar and thermal control and energy efficiency, while admitting maximum daylight.”

The people who invented the glass technology work at the PPG Glass Business and Discovery Center in Harmar, about 15 miles up the Allegheny River from the company’s headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh. It’s also not far from Springdale, where native daughter Rachel Carson grew up. Fifty years ago this year, Carson jump-started the modern environmental movement with the publication of Silent Spring. She’d probably be pleased to know that not too far from the Rachel Carson Homestead researchers have had a hand in building one of the greenest buildings in the world.

Phipps plans to cut the ribbon on the Center for Sustainable Landscapes in May. You can learn more about the glass PPG’s innovative glass all of this by clicking here. You can also watch a video about Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes here.


Tonight marks the grand opening of the South Shore Riverfront Park. From 6-8pm, the family-friendly, free celebration will be hosted by Cindy Howes of WYEP Morning Mix, featuring great live music, arts and crafts for younger attendees, snacks, and beverages.

Photo Copyright Joe Wojcik / Pittsburgh Business Times

Currently the city’s newest green attraction, the 3.2-acre park also holds an amphitheater and serves as a link to the pedestrian-friendly Hot Metal Bridge, Three Rivers Heritage Trail system, and the Great Allegheny Passage. This project is realized through an alliance of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the City of Pittsburgh, and Riverlife Pittsburgh. These collaborators will continue to work together, eventually developing the space to host recreational access to the river for boating and other activities, a private marina, and water taxi service, to be available next year.

The transformed space, once a brownfield industrial site, represents another new leaf turned by Pittsburgh. Cindy Adams Dunn, Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources explains, “We use the Pittsburgh example across Pennsylvania when we talk to communities about connecting to the river and using this natural asset to their own benefit and to the benefit of their citizens.”

Ready to go? Valet service for bikes will be provided by BikePGH, and a beautiful day to bike, walk, bus or drive it is.

See you at the park!

The results are in for the winners of the 2012 Small Business Awards, presented at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel on May 25. You can read more about them here, and watch videos of the winners here or below.

As a part of the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Network, the the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (which runs the blog you are reading) convenes the event, which begins a morning trade show and networking, followed by a luncheon and awards ceremony. Award recipients include business  owners who are military veterans, young entrepreneurs, multi-generational families and founders of high-growth businesses identified by the Pittsburgh Impact initiative. The Impact initiative is an effort by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (another Allegheny Conference affiliate) to help small, high-growth companies continue to thrive.

Watch all of the videos here.