Ben Kamber

The Pittsburgh region continued its rebound from recession by landing more business investment deals in 2011 than in the previous year. These “wins,” which are tallied each year by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, numbered 286 in 2011 — close to pre-recession levels recorded in 2008. Dewitt Peart, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance is joined by Steven Smith of Plus Consulting — a national consultancy firm headquartered in Pittsburgh and 2011 expansion win — to put this positive development news into context.

Positive benefits resulting from the Marcellus Shale are not only felt by large energy companies and their supply chain partners, but also by smaller businesses. To help broaden the connection between these “main street” business and larger energy providers and suppliers, the Marcellus Shale Coalition created MarcellusOnMainstreet.com — a site that aims to facilitate this connection. Steve Forde, vice president of policy and communications at the Marcellus Shale Coalition discusses this new site and how it can help build upon the “Marcellus Multiplier” effect.

What’s the difference between gift and estate tax laws? And what should you be doing in 2012 to ease your tax burden? PNC Wealth Management’s Tom Crowley sits down to discuss the minutia of these topics and explain how 2012 is the year to get your gift planning in order.

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.

Jim Futrell

For the past five years, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance have celebrated “Wins” day, a Wednesday in March when we tote up all the announced investment and development projects, or “wins,” of the previous year.

In 2011, the 10-county Pittsburgh region landed 286 economic development wins – 242 as corporate expansions or new facilities, 44 as real estate deals. That translates to 11,440 new and 5,620 retained jobs, as well as capital investment of $1.5 billion. You can read more about this in my column in this week’s Pittsburgh Business Times. Download a copy of it here, read it online (with subscription) at Pittsburgh Business Times, or pick up the March 16-22 edition on a newsstand.

Underscoring our emerging role as the new center of American energy, there were 79 energy-related wins, including new business or expansions by extracting companies and those in the natural gas supply chain of turbines, pumps and electrical components, as well as wind-energy developers. The growth of financial and business services contributed to these gains, too.

Advanced manufacturing also did well in 2011, as the national trade journal Industry Week recently noted.

You can read my column here, our blog post about our “Wins” day here, our detailed news release with links to growth in individual sectors here, and catch comments about it from our CEO, Dennis Yablonsky, here.

ImaginePittsburghNow
(L to R) Dennis Yablonsky, CEO, Allegheny Conference; Dan Carlson, general manager, new business development, Shell Chemicals; Iain Lo, vice president new business development and ventures, Shell Chemicals; Beaver County Commissioner Dennis Nichols; Beaver County Commissioner & Chairman Tony Amadio; Beaver County Commissioner Joe Spanik

Shell announced today that it has signed a site option agreement to build a petrochemical plant in Beaver County to process natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. The facility will include a “world-scale” ethane cracker, a facility that breaks down large molecules from natural gas into smaller ones. The location is in Potter and Center Townships near Monaca.

The facility is expected to generate thousands of construction jobs and employ hundreds of people full-time after completion. Shell announced in June 2011 that it was looking to build the plant somewhere in the Appalachian natural gas footprint, but until today it was not known if that plant would be located in Ohio, West Virginia or elsewhere.

Shell said in a statement that it looked at various factors to select the preferred site, including good access to liquids rich natural gas resources, water, road and rail transportation infrastructure, power grids, economics, and sufficient acreage to accommodate facilities for a world scale petrochemical complex and potential future expansions.

Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, called the announcement historic, as it would be the single largest “from the ground up” industrial investment in the region in a generation.

“This project is the natural next step in the development of the market for natural gas in our region, ensuring that more of the economic benefits of this rich natural resource remain here for our residents and businesses,” Yablonsky said. “But today’s announcement is just the first step; we must continue to work together to make this proposed business investment happen.” Check out the YouTube link below for more from Yablonsky on this announcement.

Dan Carlson, Shell’s General Manager, New Business Development, called the agreement an important step for the project. “We look forward to working with the communities in Pennsylvania, and gas producers across Appalachia, as we continue our efforts to develop a petrochemical complex,” Carlson said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said he and key cabinet members has been working with Shell officials for many months to reach this point. “Shell now recognizes what we already knew; Pennsylvania is ideal for this project,” Corbett said. “Not only do we sit atop the richest known reserves of natural gas in the world, but we have a world class workforce, an expansive transportation network including rail, roads and waterways, excellent education institutions and a thriving quality of life here in the Pittsburgh region.”

Tony Amadio, chairman of the Beaver County Board of Commissioners, said he welcomes the opportunity this project represents for his county and the broader region. “We recognize that today’s announcement is just beginning the process of turning a plan into reality,” Amadio said. “We look forward to working together with our federal and state officials and municipal and school district leaders to bring this investment home to Beaver County in the months to come.”

Shell said it will now pursue additional environmental analysis of the site, further engineering design studies, assessment of the local ethane supply and continued evaluation of the economic viability of the project.

In addition to an ethane cracker, Shell is also considering polyethylene (PE) and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) units to help meet increasing demands in the North American market. Much of the PE and MEG production would be used by industries in the northeast.

Click here to read a press release from the Allegheny Conference and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance about the announcement.

Dennis Yablonsky on the Shell announcement:

Phil Cynar

Thanks to continued strength across a diverse economy, the Pittsburgh region landed 286 economic development deals in 2011, pushing ahead of its performance in the previous year and maintaining its momentum toward pre-recession levels of business activity.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, a partnership of 50-plus private and public sector leaders and economic development professionals from 10 southwestern Pennsylvania counties, each year collects data on announced investment and development projects, or “wins.” The 286 wins of 2011 represent nearly $1.5 billion in capital investment and are expected to create 11,440 new jobs. The number reflects an increase over the 272 projects logged in 2010, and approaches the 290 wins reported, pre-recession, in 2008.

David J. Malone, Vice Chair of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, speaks about the region’s 286 “wins” at the March 14 Allegheny Conference luncheon.

“Across all 10 counties of the region and all of our five key industry sectors, companies are expanding and growing. Deals increased in the region – an important indicator of investors’ confidence,” said Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and its Affiliates, which include the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, or PRA. “The region is both attracting and retaining investment because of its stability. Existing businesses in the region are expanding – accounting for the majority of the deals in 2011, but attraction projects also increased over the past year to 58, up from 47 in 2010. This is the highest number recorded since we started tracking wins five years ago. Companies are not only expanding existing operations here, but they’re opening new facilities.”

Cutting across a number of industries, energy – one of the region’s key economic drivers – accounted for a total of 79 wins. These reinforce the depth of the region’s assets in traditional and renewable energy resources, energy supply chain and energy conservation. During 2011, there were 39 investments announced by companies in the natural resources industry – companies involved in the extraction of coal and natural gas, which includes the Marcellus Shale gas play. This is an increase from 32 investments in 2010, 25 in 2009 and only 11 in 2008.

The region’s other key sectors had strong performances in 2011:

READ THE COMPLETE PRESS RELEASE

Check out this video of Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky discussing the impact of the 286 wins:

Kristen Freiss
More than 200 business and economic development leaders joined the Washington County Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the county's remarkable economic growth

The energy level was high in Washington County last Thursday.  The reason:  a celebration of outstanding economic growth for the county.  Assembled at Range Resources, more than 200 business and economic development leaders – including Washington County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Kotula and Board Chairman Patrick O’Brien, President & CEO, First Federal Savings Bank – heard the good news first hand.

At the event, Commissioners Larry Maggi, Diana Irey Vaughan and Harlan Shober shared a report on the county’s economic vitality.  Highlights included:

  • In 2011, Washington County attracted 45 economic development projects that accounted for $198+ million in capital investment. Range Resource’s brand new $30 million regional headquarters in the Southpointe Business Park (the venue for the event) – is just one of the deals fueling the county’s growth. Other notable expansion/attraction projects include Alstom Grid, Chapman Corporation, Gardner Denver Nash and Mark West Energy Partners.
  • Largely driven by the expansion of the natural gas industry, the county’s 4.3 percent rate of employment growth recently ranked third in the nation. Moreover, the county has experienced unemployment rates lower than the national average.
  • The county has benefited from $279+ million in additional investments that have been leveraged through the Washington County Local Share Account – a fund that is capitalized by gaming revenues over the past five years.  Funds have been used to invest in infrastructure, business parks and community development projects.

Commissioner Maggi attributed the success to a number of factors.

“Washington County government believes in partnering with our business community to create jobs and increase economic development activities through collaborative public/private efforts.  We further encourage economic growth by keeping taxes low as well as investing in infrastructure, business parks and other job creation projects.”

Pittsburgh Regional Alliance President Dewitt Peart offered his congratulations on the news:

“Washington County’s remarkable growth demonstrates the positive impact that the Marcellus Shale industry is having throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.”

Read more here.

Amanda Sennert

ShaleNET has announced in its current newsletter that 883 local workers have landed jobs in the natural gas industry since June 2010 as a result of its training and placement efforts.

ShaleNET is a multi-state, comprehensive recruitment, training, placement and retention program for jobs in the gas industry throughout the Marcellus Shale footprint. The program plans to add three more Certified Training Providers to its program, bringing the total number to 14 across the Marcellus Shale footprint in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. ( For the entire list visit: shalenet.org/Assets/ApprovedTraining.pdf )

The newsletter also highlights the start of ShaleNET floorhand classes which were held in McKean and Indiana County. This course trains workers for positions in the entry level floor hand position, and differs from roustabout training by focusing on rig and electrical components, basic well control, and less on heavy equipment operation.

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. To learn more or register for the newsletter, go to www.shalenet.org.

And watch the Our Region’s Business video below featuring ShaleNET’s  Byron Kohut,  Col. Grey Berrier II, deputy commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and CONSOL Energy’s  Gary Slagel.