Bill Flanagan

I had a lot of fun Tuesday, the first time in my career I got to use a major league baseball park as a prop. The Pittsburgh Pirates hosted our roll out of ImaginePittsburgh.com at PNC Park.

Why?

ImaginePittsburgh.com aggregates in one powerful search engine all the open jobs posted online in the 10-county Pittsburgh region. At last count there were about 29,000, pretty close to the 30,000 or so seats at PNC Park.

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Lately the Pirates have been doing a pretty good job of filling seats – especially with phenom Gerrit Cole making his major league debut June 11. As a region, we need to do better job of filling all the empty jobs in the region.

I know — it doesn’t make a lot of sense. With the unemployment rate still above 7 percent (although lower than the national and state averages), how can 30,000 jobs go begging around Pittsburgh?

As Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky noted during Tuesday’s news conference, there are a couple reasons. A big one is the skills gap. Too many people looking for work here don’t have the skills employers need to fill the open positions. Another one is demographics. Although our population is growing again and getting younger, it’s not happening fast enough to keep up with the new jobs being created and – even more important – the accelerating retirement of the Baby Boomers will impact the entire country. (If you missed the initial coverage, you can check out our multimedia news release here, and watch a video that we created of it here.)

The trailing edge of the Baby Boom is pushing 50, and the “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30” generation now makes up about 18 percent of our region’s workforce. There are twice as many 50-somethings in our workforce as there are 20-somethings. All of this is the result of the economic bottoming-out of our region exactly 30 years ago, when the metro unemployment rate was more than 18 percent.

Over the past generation, the region as a whole engineered a pretty remarkable recovery. Our labor force and total employment are at or near record levels – and growing. But we remain a bit long in the tooth. We’re also lacking in diversity at a time when the fastest growing populations are non-white.

Fortunately we don’t have a crisis yet – our employers are getting by. But you don’t need much of a crystal ball to look to the end of the decade, just seven years away, to see that we have to do more to fill our talent pipeline. So, that’s the genesis of the re-engineered ImaginePittsburgh.com, a talent attraction and retention initiative with a website at its core.

If we spread the word about opportunity in the region both today and tomorrow, people already here, across the country and even around the world may consider Pittsburgh when they think about advancing their careers or just building lives they’ll love. Of course, it starts with each of us – the entire global “Pittsburgh nation.” We’ve got to spread the word that there is opportunity today and especially tomorrow. Several regional employers have stepped up to help by sponsoring the new initiative, including our founding sponsors, BNY Mellon, PNC and UPMC. (More are joining every week; contact imaginepghinfo@alleghenyconference.org for more information.)

Dozens of Pittsburghers, natives, newcomers and boomerangs have signed on as official Imagine Pittsburgh.com “Neighbors.” You’ll find their profiles on the site, and find a Facebook photo album of them to share with your social-media savvy contacts – which may include your kids, grandkids, or other loved ones in the Pittsburgh Diaspora. The idea is for folks who don’t know Pittsburgh or that haven’t been here in awhile to see our region through the eyes of people with similar interests and occupations. There’s even a survey to help match job seekers to Neighbors.

To encourage people to take the survey, we’re kicking things off with a promotional giveaway – a month of rent-free living at River Vue, a sleek, luxury high-rise right across the street from Point State Park. Big thanks go out to Millcraft Industries for donating the apartment and CORT for furnishing it. We’re thinking it might encourage somebody from outside the region to come visit and stay for awhile, but it’s just as good a prize for folks from around here. Think about it: An elegant downtown apartment for the holidays! What a great way to convince the kids and grandkids to come home to visit – and maybe think about making it permanent.

We’ve got a lot going for us. Last year Pittsburgh led the northeast in the total number of business expansions and relocations – according to Site Selection magazine. MSN Money literally called Pittsburgh a “boomtown.”

The economic game has changed here. No longer is it only about creating enough jobs to put people to work (the priority of the past 30 years). Now, it’s also about educating, training, attracting and retaining enough people to meet the growing demands on the horizon.

It’s a nice problem to have. But it means we can’t rest on our laurels. We’ve got to spread the word to talented people to “Imagine Pittsburgh.

ImaginePittsburgh.com

IPLaunchFeatureImaginePittsburgh.com, a virtual concierge showcasing the many Live, Work and Play options in the Pittsburgh region, is now live.

The site features a powerful job search engine highlighting the thousands of open jobs in the 10-county Pittsburgh region. Another key element:  The Neighbors – individuals who have chosen the region as the place to advance their careers and build their lives.

“When I came to Pittsburgh for law school more than a decade ago, I didn’t expect to stay. I was going to go to New York City and set the legal world on fire,” said Bryan Brantley, a 34-year-old attorney at McGuireWoods LLP.  “But there are big career opportunities here in a city that’s both vibrant and affordable. I fell in the love the city — and the woman who became my wife. We both wanted to stay.”

The Brantleys are just two of the dozens of Neighbors on the site. More are being added on a regular basis.

Another is Anne Marie Toccket, who came here “kicking and screaming” with a partner several years ago.  She decided to pursue a degree at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public & International Affairs, and found the city an ideal place to create a nonprofit that supports her work with indigenous women and families in Peru to provide access to healthcare, community education and sustainable tourism in Ollantaytambo and the surrounding high Andean communities. She also runs Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore & Cafe in Bloomfield.

“I’ve been to 40 countries and I chose Pittsburgh,” Toccket said. “It’s a place where you can create institutions.”

Look for a job, explore new neighborhoods, take the quiz to find out what kind of Pittsburgher you are — or could be — at ImaginePittsburgh.com.

Phil Cynar

Despite a brewing Hurricane Sandy, chemical engineers from all over the world – some 6,000 men and women, including about 1,600 students – blew into Pittsburgh for the week-long American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ (AIChE) 2012 Annual Meeting, held Oct. 28 – Nov. 2 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

AIChE is the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 40,000 members from 90+ countries. Its Pittsburgh meeting was touted by association leaders as having record-breaking attendance – in spite of the stormy weather here. Additionally, leaders at VisitPittsburgh, the region’s convention and visitors’ bureau, estimated that the delegates could have spent $8.5 million while in town.

Pittsburgh, in 2012, has seen a bit of a lion’s share of science and technology-based conventions and meetings. Among these were the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) – both in the spring. And more recently, nearly 300 undergrad masterminds from some of the best colleges and universities in the eastern United States to participate in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Americas East regional jamboree here, showcasing their best in molecular engineering advances impacting medicine, energy, the environment and more.

Pittsburgh is a destination of choice for these groups, association leaders and meeting planners say, because it’s a model that reflects many of their key interests. Among these are a thriving innovation-driven economy, plentiful R&D investments and activity and a regional commitment to advancing energy solutions across a portfolio of energy resources, including a keen focus on sustainability and green technologies.

Because it “walks the talk,” Pittsburgh is more than your typical convention destination; it’s a living laboratory where visitors can see Pittsburgh’s expertise play out in real-world settings.

In the video below, Anthony Cugini, Ph.D., the head of the regionally located federal National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) shares insights about the region’s leadership in sustainability, higher education and the government-industry-academia partnerships that attracted AIChE to Pittsburgh.

AIChE President David Rosenthal and Steven Little, chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering share thoughts on why Pittsburgh attracts conventions like AIChe. Beyond fueling the local economy, conferences such as the AIChE meeting and others provide an opportunity to showcase (and perhaps sell) Pittsburgh as a destination with all the right things – low cost of living, high quality of life, stable economy – and, most important, thousands of open jobs, including lots of engineering jobs.

Seeing is believing, as the saying goes, so we’ll continue to chase key conventions and capitalize on them. We’ll showcase what the region has to offer to professionals and businesses from all over planet: careers aplenty and relevant investment opportunities.

ImaginePittsburgh.com

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance has received two “superior” and “best in class” recognitions from the Northeastern Economic Developers Association for its 2011 Literature and Promotions Competition.  These were announced at NEDA’s 55th annual conference in Burlington, Vermont, which concluded on Oct. 25. The association says that the awards “recognize the very best – and most effective – communications in [the economic development profession].”

The PRA’s winning submissions were the new Pittsburgh Skyline brochure in the “general purpose” category, and the September 2010 Ultimate Home Game in the “special events” category.  The Skyline brochure was created last December to coincide with the National Hockey League’s Bridgestone Winter Classic held over the New Year’s holiday in Pittsburgh. It was designed to give national media covering this event — as well as hockey devotees who traveled to Pittsburgh for the game — a snapshot of the city and region as a live-work-play destination. It also served to communicate information about thousands of open jobs here, with the hope of attracting talent to fill those jobs.

The Ultimate Home Game was presented in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Penguins in September 2010.  A pre-season hockey game at the Penguins’ new home – the CONSOL Energy Center – was a forum for hosting nearly 18,000 young people from the region to a free game. There the workforce of tomorrow got to interact with hiring employers at a pre-game career fair and to learn more about jobs and careers that will be in demand in the region into the future.

ImaginePittsburgh.com

By Heidi McDonald

Among my fellow film students at Chatham University, I’m something of an anomaly. Several of my classmates look forward to graduating and moving to Los Angeles, New York, London or even New Zealand. I am pursuing a film degree with the express intention of staying right here in Pittsburgh, because I believe there’s enough work to sustain me. In fact, I’m betting my career on it.

Pittsburgh actually has a long-term relationship with the film industry, and I’m not just talking about zombies. The world’s first movie theater opened in Pittsburgh in 1905. The Warner Brothers (yes, those Warner Brothers, responsible for the Batman/Dark Knight series, filming this summer in locations around the city) got their start in screening and distributing films in the region. (Downtown’s Warner Center office building is on the site of one of the brothers’ theaters.) Pittsburgh Filmmakers  is the nation’s oldest and largest independent media center, and there are scores of people from our region who have gone on to successful careers in the movies.

Nobody knows this better than Carl Kurlander, a Hollywood screenwriter who returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh and co-founded the Steel Town Entertainment Project, which sponsors an annual screenwriting contest and a set of seminars designed to train filmmakers. The University of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, Chatham University, Carnegie Mellon University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh – among others – are graduating more film and digital technology students every day.

Even if you’re not checking the Pittsburgh Film Office site every day for more news and opportunities, there’s a lot going on here. In addition to the Three Rivers Film Festival, there are smaller festivals and regular events around the city for filmmakers and enthusiasts alike. Pittsburgh participates in the global 48 Hour Film Project, and there are great organizations such as the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PaFIA) and Women in Film and Media which can help aspiring filmmakers network and learn about new opportunities.

Speaking to Chatham students earlier this year, Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Project producer Nina Gibbs said that “Pittsburgh is an incredible place because of the collaboration in the artistic community. You’ll always be able to find someone who wants to help your project succeed.”

I’ve found this to be true, as I’ve had no problem being as busy as I want to be with film-related activities since I started school last fall. In my first year as a film student, I’ve had three film-related internships, screened my work at a festival and an art gallery, participated in a 48 Hour film festival and a locally-filmed web series, attended tons of local film events, and worked on a major movie. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

The Pittsburgh Film Office’s filmography page lists some 156 titles that have filmed in our city. In 2010-11, according to new Pennsylvania State Film Commissioner Lenwood Sloan, there were 15 major feature films shooting in Pennsylvania; seven of these were in Pittsburgh. This summer alone, thanks to the re-establishment of the Film Tax Credit for 2011-12, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Steel Town,” and, of course, “The Dark Knight Rises” have filmed here. At a recent PaFIA event, Sloan hinted at four major upcoming productions in Pennsylvania for the fall and winter months.

The Bat Signal on top of the Highmark Building is more than just cool. It’s a beacon, inviting more big-budget films to our city and signaling Pittsburgh as the new “it” place for major movies. So when my classmates board planes bound for Hollywood after graduation, I’ll wish them luck, wave goodbye, and send my resume to productions right here in town.

Heidi McDonald enters her senior year at Chatham University this fall, double majoring in Film and Digital Technology, and Communications. She is Pittsburgh’s beat reporter for Yahoo! Movies, writes the “Reel Life” blog on Patch.com, and is interning this summer with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development as a multi-media producer.

ImaginePittsburgh.com

Pittsburgh region companies are actively hiring in every sector – a reality underscored at a recent Pittsburgh Diversity Career Expo. Companies in the region are hiring across every stage of a worker’s development, from entry-level to management. Sixty-three firms participated, hiring in fields as diverse as manufacturing, marketing, home healthcare, construction and natural gas. Representatives collected resumes and contact information, and scheduled interviews with some of the more than 1,000 job seekers in attendance. The CONSOL Energy Center was the perfect location to host the event: job fair participant Brayman Construction Corporation, which helped lay the foundation for the building, is hiring men and women for ongoing projects across the region.

Check out the video below to hear from representatives from Brayman and 84 Lumber about their workforce needs, and from some of the job seekers.

The event drew both new and returning entrants to the workforce, as well as those already employed who used their lunch breaks to check out other possibilities. Sponsored by EmploymentGuide.com, The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, The AARP Foundation and the Allegheny County Department of Veterans’ Services, the event reflected both the present and future strength that lies in Pittsburgh’s workforce.

Available regional jobs are updated regularly at ImaginePittsburgh.com.