National, Pittsburgh Region Companies Rally To Extend Charter Of Export-Import Bank

GE Transportation recently signed a deal to build 100 locomotives in Erie — including engines made in Grove City — and sell them in Angola for $350 million.

GE used financing through the Export-Import Bank, which provides loans, loan guarantees and insurance to U.S. companies selling overseas. The bank, supporters say, helps U.S. companies compete more effectively for foreign business.

“If we hadn’t had that financing, the order would have gone to China,” said Richard Simpson, global head of supply chain for the company, who said Thursday that GE Transportation financed $720 million in sales to three other countries last year.

Such deals are in jeopardy, advocates for the 80-year-old bank say. Its charter expires June 30 and observers say it might not come up for a vote in Congress before then.

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Lancaster City Alliance Economic Development Plan Looks At Whole City

The Lancaster City Alliance wants to see $1 billion in private investment in the city over the next 15 years.

It’s one of the many goals — both specific and broad — of the economic development strategic plan the alliance put together to foster the city’s growth over the next 10-15 years.

The plan will be released to the public Thursday evening at the Ware Center.

Bob Shoemaker, Alliance president, and Marshall Snively, its executive vice president, talked with LNP’s editorial board about the year-long process on Thursday.

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Study: Mohegan Sun Arena Pumped $62 Million Into Economy In 2013

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, PA  — A new study reveals that Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza contributed $62.6 million to the economy in 2013, and expansion of the concourse is expected to pump in an additional $7 million this year.
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance was contracted by the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, the governing body of the arena, in May 2014 to conduct the study on behalf of the authority. The NEPA Alliance released the study Thursday.
The economic impact analysis considers three things:
The overall impact of the operations of the arena, which includes the impact from visitors traveling from outside the impact region (farther than 15 miles).

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Gov. Tom Wolf Powers Up Conveyors At Opening Of New Urban Outfitters Fulfillment In Gap

If Gov. Tom Wolf wanted to see his campaign promises in action, he came to the right place Thursday morning, said Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne.

Jobs that pay? “You’re looking at them,” Hayne said at the grand opening for Urban Outfitters’ massive 1 million square foot e-commerce fulfillment center in Salisbury Township just outside Gap on Route 30.

The site will ramp up from the existing staffing of 150 people to 500 as the year progresses, and could reach 1,000 to 1,500. Standard starting pay is $11.50 per hour, director of fulfillment Carl Carbonell said.

It also exemplifies “schools that teach” and “government that works,” Wolf’s other two priorities, Hayne said.

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Pittsburgh Region Adds 24,600 Jobs; Unemployment Unchanged

The Pittsburgh region’s job market roared ahead in April, posting the biggest monthly hiring spree in at least 25 years.

The seven-county metropolitan area added 24,600 nonfarm jobs and the unemployment rate remained stable at 5.3 percent as more people began a job search, according to preliminary data the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry reported Tuesday.

It was the largest monthly gain on record since 1990, the earliest data available, and provided a nice boost heading into summer, PNC economist Kurt Rankin said.

“This is about as good a sign as we could get for the state of Pittsburgh’s economy,” Rankin said.

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Council, Mayor Agree On Rules To Make Philly Developer-Friendly

A City Council committee on Friday moved forward a bill that would make Philadelphia more developer-friendly, and another to force earlier disclosure of money spent by super PACs during elections.

The development bill progressed after months of wrangling. If approved by Council and later by voters, it would create a cabinet-level department to take over functions now handled by a host of bodies that include the Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Housing Authority, Art Commission, and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who introduced the legislation in September, said the new Department of Planning and Development would create efficiencies. During Friday’s hearing, he called the long revision process well worth it.

“It gave us an opportunity to not only come up with what I believe is personally a pretty good conclusion, but it gave us the ability to understand that this is going to be a working document,” he said.


Add $325 Million To Price For Philadelphia Gallery Makeover

The Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and the Macerich Co. say it will take $325 million in new investment to transform the Gallery at Market East into what they are calling Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia.

That is on top of the $250 million already spent by PREIT to assemble what had been privately owned property in the project area, bringing the total development cost to about $575 million.

The rest of the area still owned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority will be conveyed to the developers as part of the revitalization plan being reviewed by City Council.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.


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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.