Indicators Report: Economic Recovery In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Region Isn’t Stable

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, PA — Wages remain relatively low in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and both need to work on more consistent long-term job creation and growth, said Teri Ooms, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University.

Economic recovery in the two counties has been uneven since the recession hit in late 2007 and lasted until 2009. While the unemployment rate in the area has been dropping over the last few years, that was because those participating in the labor force decreased, Ooms said.

“The good news is labor force participation has finally begun to increase, more so within the past couple months,” Ooms said. “It is now at pre-recession levels, but the challenge we’ve had is post-recession. There have been too many peaks and valleys. We’re not stable.”

The region’s unemployment rate was among many issues Ooms and Andrew Chew, research analyst, discussed as they presented the institute’s 90-page Indicators Report for Luzerne and Lackawanna counties Thursday at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s convention center.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/indicators-report-economic-recovery-in-region-isn-t-stable-1.1886047

Hazelwood: Almono Gives Neighborhood A Shot At Recovery

Salvation sits just across the railroad tracks from Alex Bodnar’s Hungarian restaurant on Second Avenue in Hazelwood.

It doesn’t look like much now, just acres and acres of vacant land, graded but idle. But the redevelopment potential of the 178-acre site has raised the hopes of the struggling city neighborhood.

“The good Lord is answering my prayer,” Mr. Bodnar beamed as he stood in the kitchen of his restaurant preparing a bowl of goulash.

For much of the last century, the Monongahela riverfront site has been closely tied to the neighborhood’s fortunes. For decades, the massive coke works that dominated the land brought prosperity. Jobs were plentiful and Second Avenue teemed with grocery stores, shops and restaurants.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/in-the-lead-2015/reports/2015/05/11/In-The-Lead-Hazelwood-Almono-gives-neighborhood-a-shot-at-recovery/stories/201505140090

Study: Pittsburgh’s Network Of Riverfront Parks Contributes To Boom In Development

DSC01818Pittsburgh’s riverfront parks system is not only a haven for rest, relaxation and recreation but an economic powerhouse that has helped to generate billions of dollars in development over the past 15 years, a study has found.

In that time, the $130 million invested in the 13-mile Three Rivers Park has helped to produce nearly $4.1 billion in development on and near the riverfront, according to the study by Sasaki Associates, a Massachusetts-based architectural and planning firm.

In addition, the study, commissioned by Riverlife and to be released today, determined that since 2001, property values along that stretch have jumped by 60 percent compared with 32 percent in the rest of the city.

“The pattern in Pittsburgh and in other cities across the country is clear: properties with close proximity to high quality park infrastructure increase in value more than properties that do not,” the report stated.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/05/07/Study-Pittsburgh-s-network-of-riverfront-parks-contributes-to-boom-in-development/stories/201505070094

Costco, Whole Foods Shopping Center Groundbreaking Set For This Week In Lower Macungie Township

A Whole Foods executive is slated to join Hamilton Crossings developers and local officials this week for the shopping center’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Whole Foods Market Executive Coordinator David Pinkney will be on hand for the Thursday afternoon event to be held at the future site of his company’s first Lehigh Valley store, developers announced Monday.

Representatives from The Goldenberg Group, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and TCH Development, of Staten Island, New York; state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie; a representative from state Sen. Pat Browne’s office; Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller; Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners President Ryan Conrad and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. President Don Cunningham are expected to attend the 2 p.m. ceremony, as well. It will be held at 4972 Medical Center Circle near the Wescosville Recreation Center.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/05/costco_whole_foods_shopping_ce_5.html

Lehigh Valley Health Network Looking To Almost Double Muhlenberg Hospital

Lehigh Valley Health Network is looking to almost double its Muhlenberg hospital in Bethlehem, according to new plans submitted to the city.

LVHN has proposed a six-story, 155-bed addition to its current 188-bed Schoenersville Road hospital. The plans have been submitted to Bethlehem but haven’t yet been scheduled for consideration, Bethlehem Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning Tracy Samuelson said.

LVHN spokesman Brian Downs declined Monday to discuss the plans, calling them preliminary.

“We’re considering things all the time,” he said.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/05/lehigh_valley_health_network_l.html

Gov. Tom Wolf Preaches ‘Gospel Of Manufacturing’ During Lehigh Valley Visit (Video)

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that students educated at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute and Lehigh Carbon Community College will power Pennsylvania’s economic engine.

“If we’re going to have a future in manufacturing in Pennsylvania, what you learn here is really, really important,” Wolf told students after touring LCCC and LCTI, which sit on neighboring campuses in North Whitehall Township.

“I’m preaching the gospel of manufacturing,” he said.  “Manufacturing is making a comeback…Part of the reason manufacturing has a great future in Pennsylvania is because we have really good workers.”

Read more/watch video:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/04/gov_tom_wolf_preaches_gospel_o.html

PREIT Reveals The Gallery’s New Look

Everything about the decrepit Gallery at Market East may be about to change.

Under an intended top-to-bottom renovation, one of Center City’s most notorious dead spots would be reborn as a gleaming glass-and-steel emporium – brimming with brand-name discount fashion shops, destination restaurants, and lively sidewalk cafés.

Even the name would be new. Welcome, shoppers, to the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia.

Details of the plan were provided exclusively to The Inquirer in advance of a series of meetings by government agencies whose support is vital to the project. The news marks a grand unveiling of plans for the Gallery following years of uncertainty and speculation.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150415_PREIT_reveals_the_Gallery_s_new_look.html#ZjuIZxyXWmB7TTV1.99

Gallup: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Well-Being Could Be Worse, But Not Much

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton area’s overall well-being could be worse, but not much.

The metropolitan area ranked 94th overall out of 100 communities in the U.S. in Gallup opinion poll “State of American Well-Being: 2014 Community Well-Being Rankings.”

The survey issued Tuesday compares how people feel about and experience their daily lives in five areas:

■ Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goal.

■ Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life.

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/gallup-scranton-wb-well-being-could-be-worse-but-not-much-1.1860711

Southwest Pa. Is Safe, Prosperous — Struggles With Poor Air Quality, Obesity, Report Finds

Southwestern Pennsylvania has low unemployment, a plethora of high school and college graduates and relatively safe streets, but residents are more likely to smoke cigarettes and be overweight compared to a group other major U.S. metro areas, according to a University of Pittsburgh report released Wednesday.

The “2015 Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow Report” from Pitt’s University Center for Social and Urban Research compared 11 quality-of-life factors in Southwestern Pennsylvania to 14 other metro areas.

Researchers found that while the region “continues to be a national model for economic recovery and public safety, the region still has major deficiencies in overcoming issues related to the environment, infrastructure, public health, and other matters that are key to the quality of life for most Americans.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/8130203-74/percent-residents-report#ixzz3WjladgL5
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Lehigh Valley Growing Jobs Better Than Other Regions Of Pennsylvania, Study Says

If it seems the Lehigh Valley is growing jobs at a faster rate than other parts of the state, a new study says that’s true.

The valley Statistical Metropolitan Area now has nearly 3 percent more jobs than it did in December 2007, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. reports from its analysis. That’s a larger percentage gain than any of the other eight Metropolitan Statistical Areas — Philadelphla-Camden-Wilmington, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg-Carlisle, Lancaster, Reading, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and York — studied in Pennsylvania, according to a news release.

The Lehigh Valley statistical area includes Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania and Warren County in New Jersey, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/03/lehigh_valley_growing_jobs_bet.html

Gov. Wolf Says Manufacturing Tax Credit Could Boost Pennsylvania Jobs, Industry

Pittsburgh may not be the steel town it once was, with the economy of the state’s second largest city these days tied more to hospitals and higher education than smoke stacks. But manufacturing is still a huge part of Pennsylvania’s economy.

The sector employs more than 571,000 people in the commonwealth — including more than 30,000 in the York-Hanover area alone.

The average compensation for someone who works in manufacturing, not just assembly line workers but plant managers and other executives, is more than $69,000. That’s well above Pennsylvania’s median household income, which was $52,548 in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With manufacturing’s above-average wages, new Gov. Tom Wolf has identified increasing the number of manufacturing jobs as one of his top economic priorities.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27743500/gov-wolf-says-manufacturing-tax-credit-could-boost

Amazon To Add 400 Jobs At Hazle Twp. Facility

The Amazon fulfillment center in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazle Township is growing.

The company said Wednesday it is adding 400 full-time positions to the 1,500 already there.

Kelly Cheeseman, an Amazon spokeswoman, said the new people are being added “to help pick, pack and ship customer orders.”

Cheeseman said the positions are being added now “to meet growing customer demand.”

Interested candidates can apply at www.workatamazonfulfillment.com.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/amazon-to-add-400-jobs-at-hazle-twp-facility-1.1850160

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area Loses Title Of Highest Unemployment Rate In Pennsylvania

After 57 months, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area is no longer dead last in the unemployment rating for Pennsylvania Metropolitan Areas.  After expanding the eligible metro areas from 14 to 18, Johnstown and East Stroudsburg have pushed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre out of last place.  If nothing else, psychologically it gives the beleaguered Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area a lift.

Bethlehem In Line For 300 New Manufacturing Jobs At Newly Approved Facilities

Two new manufacturing facilities with a likely 300 total jobs will soon be opening in Bethlehem.

The Bethlehem Planning Commission on Thursday approved two new mixed-use manufacturing and office buildings on former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land within Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII.

Fountain Hill-based Reeb Millwork will occupy one of the facilities, a 175,000-square-foot building on Gilchrist Drive, a new road off Commerce Center Boulevard. Reeb’s new Bethlehem facility will be in addition to its current Brighton Street building, but the company plans to consolidate all operations there in the future when an expansion is built, said Ed Detmer, Reeb’s vice president of corporate development.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/03/bethlehem_in_line_for_300_new.html

Study: Minorities In Pittsburgh Region Dominate Low-Wage Jobs

Ever since the British defeated the French and the Indians then changed the name of Fort Duquesne to Fort Pitt, the vast majority of the population of Pittsburgh has been white.

The workforce of the Pittsburgh region is now 89 percent white, with the remaining share of workers split between African Americans (7 percent), Hispanics and Asians (2 percent each), and 1 percent people who are listed as another racial minority, according to a study released Thursday by the Workforce Diversity Indicators Initiative that was the subject of a forum on diversity at the University of Pittsburgh on Thursday.

The employment sectors with the most diversity also were the lowest-paying sectors, such as administrative and support services with 20 percent share of minorities. That sector includes office work jobs and marketing but also security services, cleaning and maintenance and waste disposal. Minority workers in those jobs make $2,761 a month, which, according to the report, was one of the lowest of all sectors.

Even lower pay was found in the sector with the second highest concentration of minority workers — accommodation and food services — which had 16 percent representation by minority workers on the payrolls earning $1,442 a month.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/career-workplace/2015/03/06/Pittsburgh-region-minorities-dominate-low-wage-jobs-study-finds/stories/201503060177

Study Ranks York Area High As Location For Distribution Centers

A new report gives the York area high marks as a place for locating a distribution center.

Access to a rail line and the Port of Baltimore and comparatively low labor costs make the area one of the best places in the U.S. for siting a distribution center, according to a report from The Boyd Company, a Princeton, N.J.-based firm that advises companies on where they should locate.

The study comes after Target Corp. selected West Manchester Township earlier this month as the site for a massive facility to fill orders for its online customers. And auto parts maker Federal-Mogul is locating a distribution center in a new 708,000 square-foot building Chicago development firm First Industrial Realty Trust built in Manchester Township near Exit 24 on Interstate 83..

York does well when it comes to attracting such facilities “and we see that trend continuing,” John Boyd Jr., principal at The Boyd Company, said in a telephone interview.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27559916/study-ranks-york-area-high-location-distribution-centers

Report: NEPA Region Lags In Advanced-Skilled Jobs

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton area ranks near the bottom of the list of jobs leading the recovery that promise to revitalize the nation’s economy, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.

The Report, “America’s Advanced Industries: What they are, where they are, and why they matter” looked at those jobs in the nation’s 100 largest metros and ranked Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area 92nd.

These important jobs are leaving the area, the report noted, with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s employment in advanced industries falling about 2 percent every year.

Many terms have been used to describe the important sector: high-tech, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and now “advanced industries.” What makes understanding the sector more complex is that the field cuts across 50 industries from certain types of manufacturing and energy to computer software design and health care. A STEM job could be found just about anywhere, such as a computer programmer for a trucking company.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/report-nepa-region-lags-in-advanced-skilled-jobs-1.1826843

Tom Wolf’s Agenda: Raise The Minimum Wage To $10.10 An Hour

Tom Wolf, who was elected governor in November, wants to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. Here are five things to know about the issue.

1. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

That’s the same rate as the federal minimum wage.

Nationwide, 29 states have a minimum wage above the federal level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

2. Wolf says raising the minimum wage would create jobs.

Wolf’s “Fresh Start” policy plan, released in February 2014, says raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation would raise wages for 20 percent of Pennsylvanians and lead to the creation of 5,000 jobs by 2016.

The plan cites the Economic Policy Institute, which describes itself as dedicated to including “the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions,” as its source for those figures.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_27320709/tom-wolfs-agenda-raise-minimum-wage-10-10

Free Online Resource Helps Aspiring Entrepreneurs Gain Crucial Business Skills

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.— Aspiring entrepreneurs can conveniently learn the nuts and bolts of starting a business thanks to a new, online program developed by Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) for the Pennsylvania Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives Collaborative. The program can be accessed online at BEresource.com.

“Starting Your Own Business” is a free, self-paced program through which learners explore five modules on topics such as business basics, financial and legal considerations, and marketing, as well as an in-depth case study. The final module of the program guides learners through the process of developing a customized business plan.

“In today’s market, entrepreneurial spirit is more than being a business owner. Employers increasingly expect employees to think entrepreneurially when developing ideas and solving problems,” shared Philip Needles, dean of Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives at MCCC.

Learners who successfully finish the program and business plan will earn a proof of completion certificate and may be eligible to earn three credits at MCCC through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). Other colleges and universities may also evaluate the completed course and business plan for possible PLA credit toward one of their respective programs.

PLA is the process used by many institutions to determine if an individual’s prior educational, workforce and life experiences can be translated to college credits. Assessments can include evaluation of military or corporate training, review of portfolios, customized tests, and evaluation of completed non-credit courses, among others.

The “Starting Your Own Business” project is funded by a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, and is part of a joint initiative of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to train and place underemployed and unemployed residents of the Commonwealth in high demand jobs.

The program is open source and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To learn more about the project and its designers, visit BEresouce.com or contact Denise Collins at 215-619-7313 or dcollins@mc3.edu.

PhillyDeals: Expansion Planned At King Of Prussia Plaza And Court

King of Prussia Mall

King of Prussia Mall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simon Property Group, the Indianapolis-based retail giant that owns 200-plus shopping malls nationwide, is sacrificing more than 400 parking spaces at its King of Prussia Plaza and Court to make room for at least 50 new stores and restaurants that it hopes will draw more wealthy shoppers to the region’s biggest retail complex.

At extra-large shopping centers such as King of Prussia, at least, “the mall business is good, contrary to some of the naysayers,” David Contis, president of Simon Malls and a corporate senior vice president, told me Monday.

His company bought out other investors to take control of the King of Prussia mall in 2011, in deals that valued the complex at over $1 billion.

Contis said he expected to attract luxury stores from outside the region and “the best of the Philadelphia eateries” to the new space, rather than shifting current tenants there.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20141118_PhillyDeals__Expansion_planned_at_King_Of_Prussia_Plaza_and_Court.html#4mWT6geTQWCWiwR1.99