Armstrong Starts $41M Expansion Of Dillerville Road Plant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Armstrong World Industries formally started an expansion Friday of its Lancaster floor plant, so it can begin making luxury vinyl tile there.

The $41 million project, announced by the company in October, is expected to create 60 jobs.

Shipping of luxury vinyl tile from the city plant is expected to begin in mid 2015.

The product made in the 1067 Dillerville Road plant will replace product made for Armstrong by a manufacturer in China.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/armstrong-starts-m-expansion-of-dillerville-road-plant/article_da8d7aa2-c0c0-11e3-8ebf-001a4bcf6878.html

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US Steel Curtails Operations

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Production halts at U.S. Steel’s two largest mills could dent what is usually a good quarter for the Pittsburgh steelmaker and lead to higher steel prices.

On Wednesday, U.S. Steel informed customers of its Gary, Ind., mill that it was curtailing blast furnace and steelmaking operations at that plant because icy conditions on the Great Lakes are delaying shipments of iron ore from its Minnesota mines. The letter gave no word on how long those delays could last but was hopeful that shipments will improve with warming temperatures.

“It is possible that our ability to timely fill your orders will be temporarily impacted,” the company wrote, adding that it is trying to mitigate any impact of customers.

The announcement follows an incident last week at U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes mill near Detroit that forced the company to halt steel production there. Media reports indicate a large pipe damaged the roof covering one of its steelmaking furnaces.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/US_Steel_curtails_operations.html#jp3C8BItOJ3CLCFG.99

Additional story: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/homepage/20140405_ap_a889ebee36a145ab8b177a5801db63ef.html

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A Major Chunk Of PNC Tower’s New Glass ‘Skin’ Being Built In Pittsburgh

In a nondescript building in a city industrial park near Crafton, a big part of PNC’s $400 million Downtown skyscraper is being assembled piece by piece.

Permasteelisa Group, one of the world’s top contractors in the manufacturing and installation of building shells and interiors, has set up a mobile factory in the 80,000-square-foot warehouse to put together the 33-story Tower at PNC Plaza‘s “double skin” glass facade.

Roughly half of the building shell is being assembled at the site, with the rest being done in Windsor, Conn., Permasteelisa’s North American headquarters.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/02/27/A-major-chunk-of-PNC-tower-s-glass-skin-being-built-in-Pittsburgh/stories/201402270150#ixzz2uYvLYSzr

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Business Forum: Steel, Health Dare And Future Wealth Of Our Robotic Region

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A city that doesn’t make things can never be a real city.

The Steel City got its name and built its international reputation by making the best metal products in the world. For Hollywood, wealth and fame came from making the greatest motion pictures the world has ever seen. Silicon Valley earned its place in history by giving us the personal computer, the cell phone and just about every other indispensable high-tech gadget you can think of.

In the aftermath of the dismantling of the steel industry, Pittsburgh was especially fortunate to have a world-class health care and university system. These gems allowed us to sidestep the ruinous fate that has befallen other Rust Belt cities such as Detroit and Gary, Indiana.

However, in the long run those regional assets will not be enough to elevate this metropolitan statistical area and its wealth back to the level it enjoyed during the middle of the last century.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/Biz-opinion/2014/02/15/Steel-health-care-and-future-wealth-of-our-robotic-region/stories/201402150066#ixzz2tPa3gmXI

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Economic Slowdown Widespread

INDICATOR: January Industrial Production and Import/Export Prices

KEY DATA: IP: -0.3%; Manufacturing: -0.8%/Imports: +0.1%; Nonfuel: +0.3%; Exports: +0.2%; Farm: -0.5%

IN A NUTSHELL: “The current economic slowdown, that hopefully can be blamed on the weather, is widespread.”

WHAT IT MEANS: January can be a cruel month and this year it is especially so. Job gains were mediocre, unemployment claims are above where we would like to see them, retail sales were pathetic and not surprisingly, manufacturers reacted by cutting back production sharply. Industrial production was off moderately in January but only because utilities had to produce massive amounts to heat our homes, offices and plants. Manufacturing output tanked as fifteen of the nineteen industry groups posted declines.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/economics_in_a_nutshell/Economic-slowdown-widespread.html#BofjoT0tjMWvuhFk.99

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US Economy Grew At 3.2 Percent Rate In Q4

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter on the strength of the strongest consumer spending in three years, an encouraging sign for 2014.

The fourth-quarter increase followed a 4.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter, when the economy benefited from a buildup in business stockpiles.

For 2013 as a whole, the economy grew a tepid 1.9 percent, weaker than the 2.8 percent increase in 2012, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Growth was held back last year by higher taxes and federal spending cuts.

With that drag diminished, many economists think growth could top 3 percent in 2014. That would be the best performance since the recession ended in mid-2009.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140130_ap_ef9a502bf87446ee8b002fe557b26ec6.html#wThbbpJD49oI0jQw.99

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Bill Would Promote Products ‘Made In PA’

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG — Would you be more likely to buy a product if it were labeled “Made in Pennsylvania?”

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill to create a “Made in PA” program, complete with a logo and website to encourage consumers to purchase products made close to home.

A similar program, to identify and promote Pennsylvania agricultural products, began in 2004, called the PA Preferred program.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2013/12/16/Bill-would-promote-products-Made-in-PA/stories/201312160060#ixzz2neriTSq7

Church & Dwight To Manufacture Gummy Vitamins In York County, Hire 180 People

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Church & Dwight plans to construct a new production line for gummy vitamins at its facility in Jackson Township.

A $55 million investment, the new production line will lead to the hiring of approximately 180 people, according to the company.

Construction will begin in January and the line is scheduled to be operational in the first quarter of 2015, according to a news release.

The company will also receive some state funds for the project via the Governor’s Action Team, which works with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_24655737/church-dwight-hire-180-people-manufacture-gummy-vitamins

US Manufacturing Grows At Fastest Pace In 2½ Years

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. manufacturing grew in November at the fastest pace in 2½ years as factories ramped up production, stepped up hiring and received orders at a healthy clip.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity rose to 57.3. That was up from 56.4 in October and was the highest since April 2011. A reading above 50 signals growth.

One component of the index, a measure of hiring, rose to its highest level in nearly 18 months. And a gauge of export orders reached its highest level in nearly two years. Overseas demand is benefiting from modest recoveries in Europe, Japan and China.

Manufacturing activity has now expanded for six straight months after hitting a rough patch in the spring. The steady gains suggest that growth is remaining healthy in the current October-December quarter.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20131202_ap_4978c48d3b504648b48b0acc2f267984.html#flx0Btf732s7obLS.99

Reading Authority Approves 250 Parcels For New Program

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority – working fast to meet a Nov. 30 deadline – on Friday approved 250 parcels spread over 129 acres to be included in the zone.

At its next meeting Monday, the 10-member board will be asked to suggest three or four potential projects on three or four of those sites.

Board members said the projects are realistic but are not set in stone, and will be used as illustrations of how the state’s newest economic development program could help Reading.

That program, aimed at attracting new firms with new jobs, lets cities use the new state and local taxes the zones generate to finance property purchases, infrastructure projects, and even new buildings.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519968

Greater Reading Chamber Receives Grant For Manufacturing

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Corbett administration today announced the award of a Discovered in Pennsylvania-Developed in Pennsylvania grant to help launch the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Reignite in Pennsylvania program, created to support the growth of manufacturers.

The Greater Reading Chamber will receive a $286,600 grant to support targeted outreach, coaching, mentoring, training and consulting to an estimated 30 companies in the first year and another 30 companies in the second year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519627

Japanese Manufacturer Moving North American Headquarters To Wyomissing

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Japanese manufacturer is moving its North American headquarters to Wyomissing.

Seibu Giken Co. Ltd.’s North American operation, SG America Inc., Owatonna, Minn., is relocating to 220 N. Park Road and initially creating 15 to 20 skilled jobs in production, logistics, assembly and engineering.

The operations in Owatonna will close.

“Relocating to the greater Reading region from Owatonna was a strategic decision for SG America,” said Ray Suhocki, general manager, North American operations.  “The Mid-Atlantic location provides access to a larger labor pool and allows us to take advantage of greater Reading’s lower cost of doing business.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=505234

Westmoreland County Community College Breaks Ground On Tech Center In Former Sony Plant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, Westmoreland County Community College broke ground on its new $9.4 million Advanced Technology Center in the former Sony plant near New Stanton.  The college’s workforce development program will move to the expanded classrooms and labs by fall 2014.

But county and college officials also hope the new center will be an incubator to help grow manufacturing businesses throughout the region.

“We are building on Western Pennsylvania’s manufacturing roots,” said Doug Jensen, WCCC assistant vice president for workforce education.  “The entire manufacturing sector is growing in so many ways we need a different workforce and skill sets.

“Just as Pittsburgh has been an incubator for businesses in the biotech field with its universities, we want Westmoreland County to be an incubator for the manufacturing sector; we want entrepreneurs to come here. We want to serve the entire region in these emerging sectors, including energy.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-east/wccc-breaks-ground-on-tech-center-in-former-sony-plant-695932/#ixzz2ZQYib94b

Steel For I-81 Rebuild Sourced From Pennsylvania Steel Mills

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In about a month, the massive bridge beams being manufactured for the emergency Interstate 81 rebuild project will be coming from beam fabricator High Steel Structures in Lancaster.

The company’s manufacturing facility — one of three in that city and four in the state — stands in sharp contrast to the fallen production factories that dot parts of the rust belt as it loops through Pennsylvania.

The steel industry was once a giant in Pennsylvania, and not just in Pittsburgh, Johnstown or Bethlehem, cities whose names are synonymous with steel.

While many of the heavy industrial mills closed — and indeed, Bethlehem Steel ceased to exist in 2003 — steel manufacturing is still a part of the state’s industrial landscape.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/all_in_family_steel_for_i-81_r.html#incart_river_default

Stripped-Down Harley Rebounds From Recession

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some motorcycle enthusiasts feared Keith Wandell might be the outsider who drove Harley-Davidson into the ground.  Instead, he may be remembered as the guy who kept the motorcycle maker on the road.

Wandell grabbed the handlebars at the motorcycle maker in the heart of the economic crisis in 2009.  Harley lost $55 million that year, as buying a motorcycle stopped being an option for many consumers.

“We had to make, quickly, some big, bold, decisions,” he said in a recent interview.

Wandell was the first CEO from outside Harley, so those decisions were watched closely.  Not all were well-received.  He got the union’s approval to use temporary workers, which enabled Harley to time its production closer to the peak bike-buying season, saving time and money.  He relied less on middle-aged men in the U.S. to buy the bikes.  And he focused the company on doing what many say it does best: making big, powerful, premium-priced Harleys.  But that meant getting rid of some popular secondary brands.

The company made $624 million last year, the best annual profit since 2008.  It also boosted profit by 30 percent in this year’s first quarter, compared to the same period in 2012.  With lower costs and more efficient production, analysts say Harley is in a good position to grow as the global economy improves and in better shape to weather any future downturn.

Read more:  http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_23421255/stripped-down-harley-rebounds-from-recession

Jobs Returning To The Lehigh Valley, Slowly

Lehigh Valley workers were hit harder by the recession and recovered more slowly from the damage than those in many comparable urban areas.

That finding and a slew of others are included in the fifth annual State of the Lehigh Valley research study that was rolled out Thursday at Lehigh University by the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium and Renew Lehigh Valley.

Researchers Christopher Ruebeck and Jamila Bookwala, who led the presentation, ran down regional employment figures between 2006 and 2012, finding that the Lehigh Valley’s job market held its own prior to the recession, comparing favorably with similar metro areas, with the nation as a whole and with our neighbors in New Jersey.

But the Valley’s unemployment rate rose more than comparable metro areas during the Great Recession, and those jobs have come back more slowly than in many comparable areas or the state or nation as a whole.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-lehigh-valley-jobs-20130228,0,7642549.story

Armstrong’s Yearly Profit Climbs

Armstrong World Industries today reported a small drop in net profits for the fourth quarter but a sizable increase for the year.

For the quarter, net profits slid 1.2 percent to $8.4 million (14 cents a share) from $8.5 million (14 cents a share) in the 2011 quarter.

Sales dipped 1.6 percent to $612.8 million.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/816802_Armstrong-s-yearly-profit-climbs.html#ixzz2LOK0sAFf

Mexico: The New China

3-D perspective image of the San Diego-Tijuana...

3-D perspective image of the San Diego-Tijuana area from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In November I quit my job as the editor of Wired to run 3D Robotics, the San Diego-based drone company I started with a partner as a side project three years ago.  We make autopilot technology and small aircraft — both planes and multirotor copters — that can fly by themselves.  The drones, which sell for a few hundred bucks, are for civilians: they don’t shoot anything but photographs and videos.  And they’re incredibly fun to build (which we do with the ample help of robots).  It wasn’t a hard decision to give up publishing for this.

But my company, like many manufacturers, is faced with a familiar challenge: its main competitors are Chinese companies that have the dual advantages of cheap labor and top-notch engineering.  So, naturally, when we were raising a round of investment financing last year, venture capitalists demanded a plausible explanation for how our little start-up could beat its Chinese rivals.  The answer was as much a surprise to the investors as it had been to me a few years earlier:  Mexico.  In particular, Tijuana.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/the-tijuana-connection-a-template-for-growth.html?_r=0