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Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC announced on June 7 that it will — after four years of consideration – build a major petrochemical complex on the banks of the Ohio River in Potter Township, Beaver County (about 30 miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh). The project will create 6,000 jobs during construction and 600 during operation when completed. Learn more from Shell’s news release. A statement from Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, is available here.

For complete, ongoing information check out the Pittsburgh Regional AllianceThe PRA is the business development affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, of which ImaginePittsburgh.com is a project. 

From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s June 7, 2016 story:  Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to go ahead with its multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant in Beaver County shifts the discussion over reaping benefits of the shale gas boom from whether it will spur manufacturing to how much.

Civic and business leaders said Tuesday’s long-anticipated announcement by the energy giant — more than four years after it picked a site at a shuttered zinc smelter along the Ohio River — signals good news: for shale drillers challenged by low prices, for a manufacturing base left low by steel’s demise, and for 6,000 workers Shell will employ during construction.

“The term game-changer is much overused, and I’m guilty of over-using it. But it absolutely is appropriate in this case,” Gov. Tom Wolf told the Tribune-Review hours after Shell made the announcement with little fanfare. “This is a game-changer for our economy.”

The so-called final investment decision sets up another four or five years of work; Shell said construction will begin within 18 months and wrap up “early in the next decade” on the first major ethane cracker to be built outside the Gulf Coast in 20 years. It eventually will employ 600 people.
The company cited as reasons for its decision the site’s proximity both to plentiful ethane produced by many Marcellus shale gas wells here and to potential customers for the ethylene it will produce — a building block of plastics. It also stands to receive a tax credit package worth tens of millions annually.

“More than 70 percent of North American polyethylene customers are within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh,” the company said in a news release.
The announcement appears to end years of debate that swirled as Shell prepared the massive site in Potter and Center while a global collapse in oil and natural gas prices prompted the company to lay off thousands and halt other projects. Increased work on the site — which included construction of a bridge over nearby Route 18, movements of power lines and $80 million in environmental remediation — escalated speculation even as Shell cut costs worldwide.

“The fact that Royal Dutch Shell is still moving forward on this tremendous investment at a time of historic low oil and gas prices is a testament to our commonwealth’s commitment to developing our abundant natural resources,” said Sen. Camera Bartolotta, a Republican whose district includes southern Beaver County.

CEO Ben van Beurden said the company, which recently acquired gas producer BG Group, would reduce capital spending this year to $29 billion, 35 percent lower than the two companies spent in 2014. Shell has not put a price tag on the Beaver County project, though analysts estimate it at between $6 billion and $7 billion.

Shell’s delay in starting construction prompted questions from at least one analyst who said an 18-month pause is unusual.

“I guess I’m not 100 percent convinced,” said Steve Lewandowski, global business director for olefins at Houston-based energy analyst IHS. He said Shell still needs to watch its cash flow as oil remains around $50 per barrel.

The delay might provide time for workers to finish plants on the Gulf Coast over the next few years before shifting to Beaver County, Lewandowski said. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development said the region will need to pull from other states to fill the construction jobs needed to build the plant.

Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said the company has canceled projects it began, though he could not say whether that was after final investment decisions were announced.

Wolf and others said they have no doubt Shell is moving ahead on Western Pennsylvania’s largest building project in a generation.

“We believe that a capital investment of this magnitude indicates to other companies in the energy, petrochemical and plastics industries that southwestern Pennsylvania should be on their short list of locations for new facilities and expansions,” said Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky. He noted that polyethylene demand is forecast to grow worldwide.

Environmental groups fought the state air permits Shell received in 2015 and complained about the wide swath of land cleared on both sides of Route 18 after the company bought the former Horsehead Holdings Corp. zinc smelter and neighboring properties for $13.5 million.

“We continue to have concerns about the significant air pollution being added to our region, just as we are starting to make progress cleaning up our air,” said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania director for Clean Water Action.

Advocates say the plant will bring more benefits as plastics manufacturers set up shop close to the cracker.

“Those products will span from food to fabrics to outdoor decks. All those things can now be made here, in the middle of the market, the Keystone State,” Wolf said, noting the company he used to own had to source its PVC for decks and railings from Texas.

That will provide relief for gas drillers who will get a large local customer for 90,000 barrels of their ethane daily. Limited pipelines to more lucrative markets have pushed down prices, prompting layoffs and a huge slowdown in drilling.

Cecil-based Consol Energy, one of the companies that contracted with Shell to sell it ethane, said the announcement “marks a major turning point for the region.”

“This investment … reflects that fact that domestic manufacturing’s potential is near limitless thanks to our abundant and stable energy supplies from natural gas,” said David Spigelmyer, president of the North Fayette-based Marcellus Shale Coalition.

The Shell plant is one of three proposed for the region. Brazilian energy companies Braskem and Odebrecht put on hold a plan to build in West Virginia, but Thai firm PTT Global Chemical continues to assess a possible site in Belmont County, Ohio.

Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas said he does not think Shell’s decision will deter PTT.

“In my mind it validates that southwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio … have sufficient resources to handle multiple cracker plants, at least two,” he said.

Potential contractors also expect to see benefits.

Steamfitters Local 449 in Pittsburgh has been ramping up its apprenticeship program in anticipation of Shell’s announcement, union business manager Ken Broadbent said.

“I brought in 70 percent more apprentices than usual,” Broadbent said. “I’m trying to be proactive and get ready for a big project like this.”

Downtown-based specialty steel producer Allegheny Technologies Inc. said the cracker project could benefit the company’s Flat Rolled Products business, which makes stainless steel and titanium alloys for pipes used in the energy industry. ATI laid off about a third of the nonunion workers from the Flat Rolled Products business in April in response to the downturn. The layoffs followed the indefinite idling of mills in Midland and Gilpin where more than 600 workers were employed.

What’s a cracker? According to Shell, such plants “break down large molecules from oil and natural gas into smaller ones. An ethylene cracker produces base petrochemical ‘building blocks,’ which are the first stage in the chemicals manufacturing chain.”

The cracker will produce polyethylene, which Shell says “is used to produce many common household items ranging from packaging to sports equipment, construction materials, automotive fuel tanks, toys and garden furniture.”

“Pittsburgh’s sounding awfully nice.”

That’s the assessment from Bloomberg News, citing the Graduate Opportunity Index. Newly created by Trulia and LinkedIn, the index places Pittsburgh at the top of 40 of the country’s strongest job markets based on these factors:

• the share of entry-level job openings for recent graduates
• the percentage of rental units affordable* to a median-income college graduate between the ages of 22 and 30
• the share of the area’s population age 22 to 30 that has a bachelor’s degree or more (a measure of how dense a city is with a college grad’s peers)

bloom EYEBALLEDYou can check out the Bloomberg News article and the Graduate Opportunity Index, or better yet get a jump on the competition at ImaginePittsburgh.com, a searchable index of every open job in the 10-county region. Want to hear from a real person about what it’s really like to to live in Pittsburgh? Check out our Neighbors — friendly people from around the corner and around the globe who have chosen to Pittsburgh as the place to advance their career and build a great life without going broke. See someone who shares your career interests? Ping them via their LinkedIn profiles and ask to chat.

*Rent is less than 30 percent of a recent grad’s monthly income

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Learn what makes a winning ATHENA nomination at Athena-Pittsburgh.com

It’s that time again — time to recognize the extraordinary women in the Pittsburgh region who go above and beyond in their work and mentorship of other women. Nominations for the 2016 Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards will be accepted (online only) until 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 30.

Taking its name from the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the traditional ATHENA Award recognizes a woman who demonstrates excellence in her profession, contributes to her community and helps other women to succeed. Last year’s recipient was  Lynn M. Banaszak, executive director at Health Innovation in Pennsylvania Disruptive Health Technology Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Josie Badger, Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center’s youth development director, received the ATHENA Young Professional Award for emerging leaders age 35 or younger.

Wondering how to craft a winning nomination? Check out this tip sheet put together by Pittsburgh Magazine Publisher Betsy Benson.

There are hundreds of ATHENA International-affiliated events presented around the world each year, but Pittsburgh’s gathering is one of the largest. More than 900 women and men are expected to attend this year’s luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Interested in sponsorship? Contact sgaal@alleghenyconference.org.

Watch videos, learn more at Athena-Pittsburgh.com. / Look for updates under #PghAthena on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Bonnie Pfister
Rainbow Rain by Dong Yang Pinterest
Rainbow Rain by Dong Yang / Pinterest

Got the rainy-day blahs? Maybe it’s your job. Could be that you’re due for a refresh, a new challenge — or at least the spirit-lift that can come from seeing what other opportunities are out there, and adjusting your view accordingly. Pittsburgh’s got thousands of great jobs open today: more than 29,000 jobs across the 10-county region. Here are just a smattering from our awesome Featured Employers:

Financial Analyst at Alcoa

Project Engineer at Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc.

Talent Acquisition Specialist at EQT Corp.

Lead Technical Specialist at Federated Investors

Asphalt Plant Operator at PJ Dick / Lindy Paving

Not quite what you had in mind? Another approach is to see who in Pittsburgh is doing interesting work. Check out our Neighbors — interesting, dynamic people from around the corner and around the globe who have chosen Pittsburgh as the place to build their career and life. You can ping them via their LinkedIn profiles to chat about what they love about their gig or their workplace, and use that human intelligence as you mull your own path. Get on it!

NEXTpittsburgh

Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Brian Conway

From single-day neighborhood festivals to weeklong extravaganzas, summer music festivals in Pittsburgh take on all shapes and sizes. Here’s a closer look at each of the festivals, with information on the performers and what makes each festival unique.

Pittsburgh Festival of New Music

Now through May 30, throughout town. Pricing varies by event.

This one is already underway. There was a pop-up performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite in Market Square. Otherwise, glancing at the full festival lineup, there are a lot of world premieres and descriptors like “minimalist” and “avant-garde.” Take, for example, the Pittsburgh premiere of Cornelius Cardew’s The Great Learning, described as being composed for “a large number of trained and untrained musicians, based on on texts by Confucius in Ezra Pound’s translations.” Kudos to anyone doing something outre and new in Pittsburgh. Get the full lineup at the Festival website.

Layer Cake Festival

June 3-4, Mr. Smalls (21+); Cattivo (21+); Spirit (21+); James St. Gastropub (all ages). $15 (single venue) – $30 (all venues). 

Last year, Layer Cake Festival took the neighborhood tour model and packed it inside James St. Gastropub, with over 30 bands spread across 3 different stages. Like Deutstchtown, Layer Cake expands to 2 nights this year. Over 120 bands will play across 4 different venues, each with multiple stages. A shuttle will run between venues. Layer Cake stands out for featuring a large number of local hip-hop acts, as well as a smattering of regional bands. More info, including set times, will be announced on the Layer Cake Facebook page.

 

Three Rivers Arts Festival

June 3-12, Point State Park. Free. 

The unofficial start to summer in Pittsburgh, this year’s Arts Fest lineup falls in the same mold as years past—heavy on folk, bluegrass and soul; light on hip-hop, heavy metal, or rock that’s any harder than Guster (see them June 10). Some of this year’s standout headliners include Parisian twin sister duo Ibeyi (June 5), retro jazz/soul outfit Lake Street Dive (June 12), and “the screaming eagle of soul,” Charles Bradley (June 8). Check out NEXT’s full-length TRAF preview for more information on the headliners, and visit the Arts Fest website for full festival details.

 

Allegheny County Parks Summer Concert Series

Fridays, June 3-September 4 (South Park); Sundays, June 5-September 6 (Hartwood Acres). Free.

With free concerts running every week from June through September, there are bound to be both hits and misses when it comes to the Summer Concert Series at South Park and Hartwood Acres. Some standouts include The Ohio Players (7/17, Hartwood), Booker T’s Stax Revue (8/14, Hartwood), a pair of performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (6/3 South Park; 7/3 Hartwood), as well as Randy Baumann’s Ramble (7/31 Hartwood), an all-star local rock band revue. Each concert is free, except for the Allegheny County Music Festival, September 4, featuring Rusted Root with Nevada Color, Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors ($20 suggested donation). See the entire summer concert series lineup at the Allegheny County website.

Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival

June 24-26, Downtown. Pricing Varies.

Of course the city that gave the world Stanley Turrentine, Ahmad Jamal, Errol Garner and Billy Eckstine would have a top-notch international jazz festival representative of all types of jazz. Taking place in the Cultural District, this year’s JazzLive spans three days and is headlined by former Miles Davis pianist, Chick Corea, alongside drummer Brian Blade and bassist Christian McBride. Also appearing: the Eddie Palmieri Big Salsa Orchestra, and Pittsburgh’s own, Jeff “Tain” Watts. Outdoor performances are free; indoor performances will be ticketed. Keep an eye on the Pittsburgh JazzLive website for schedules and ticket prices as they are made available.

 

WYEP Summer Music Festival 2016

June 25; Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free.

This year’s lineup is solid: opener Margaret Glaspy’s debut album comes out in June on ATO Records (home to Alabama Shakes and My Morning Jacket), and headliner Lucius is one of the more innovative indie pop bands to emerge from Brooklyn in recent memory. And while Summer Music Fest is one of the best local festivals at providing equal headlining space to female-fronted musical acts, since 2008, when the festival first moved to Schenley Plaza, there has been but a single minority musical performer on the bill. There is also a kid-friendly Reimagination Showcase in the afternoon, which itself features a very diverse lineup, including the East Liberty Presbyterian Church’s Hope Academy Teen Theater Company, as well as the Funky Fly Project (ages 10-14). More info at the WYEP website.

 

 

Jam On Walnut

June 25; July 23; August 20. 5442 Walnut Street. Free.

However you felt about the 2015 Jam on Walnut, you’ll feel the same about it this year, too: all three headliners are repeats from last year, including “Pittsburgh’s Premier Disco Party Band,” Dancing Queen (June 25); country singer/fiddler, Chris Higbee (July 23); and local cover band, Radio Tokyo (August 20). (They could have at least brought back Bon Journey.)Happy Hour is from 7-8:30; proceeds from the event benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Western PA Chapter. This is the block party’s 20th anniversary. More information on the Jam on Walnut Facebook page.

 

 

Vine Rewind: A Penn Avenue Picnic

June 26, 2800 Block Penn Ave. Free. 

The inaugural Vine Rewind, an initiative of the Pittsburgh Winery, takes place the day of OpenStreetsPGH. Beginning in the morning, at 10 a.m., the 2800 block of Penn Avenue will remain closed to traffic all day, even after OpenStreets ends. The free block party features local food, beer, and a pair of outdoor stages. Clinton Clegg’s The Commonheart headlines, while over a dozen Pittsburgh heavy-hitters take to the stage throughout the day, including Joy Ike, Nevada Color, and Morgan Erina. There’ll even be a performance by the Buzz Poets. Set times and more information on the Vine Rewind Facebook page.

 

Deutschtown Music Festival 

July 8-9, Deutschtown (multiple venues). Free. 

Deutschtown is essentially the Northside version of Lawrenceville’s Rock All Night Tour: take a couple dozen venues, open them to the public and let local bands play sets inside, free of charge, all day (and all night) long. Now in its fourth year, Deutschtown has expanded into a two-day festival, both Friday and Saturday, complete with food trucks, outdoor stages, and over 180(!) local performers. There’s no better crash course to Pittsburgh’s local music. More information is available at the Deutschtown website.

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Looking for a job? ImaginePittsburgh.com‘s got ‘em — more than 20,000 open positions on our powerful, 10-county job search aggregator, updated nightly.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

 

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RemakeLearning RallyRemake Learning Week concluded on May 13, with snacks and entertainment at PNC Park. Participants at the free event tried  out virtual reality gear, program robots that make art, designed and created doo-dads on a 3D printer, used circuitry and LEDs to bring jewelry to life, broadcasted their voices on internet radio and more.

Rally attendees also heard a recap of some of #RemakeDays panels, workshops and parties from the week-long Remake Learning Days, which featured more than 150 future-ready, hands-on, relevant and engaging educational experiences for kids and their families, caregivers and educators across the Greater Pittsburgh Region.

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Wondering about your career future? Check out ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore southwestern PA’s trending careers, industries and the more than 20,000 jobs open now on our custom-built aggregator, updated nightly.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.