Bonnie Pfister

Congratulations to sponsor PITT OHIO, which earned top honors in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s annual ranking of best places to work in the region. That’s good news for job seekers, because the family-run company is actively seeking men and women for one of the most high-demand jobs in the Pittsburgh region. (More on that below.)

PittOhio_IPFeaturePITT OHIO was ranked the No. 1 place to work among large Pittsburgh region companies (more than 400 employees), while CEO Charles “Chuck” Hammel was named top leader in the large-company category for the second time.

The Post-Gazette’s survey partner, WorkplaceDynamics, invited 1,401 Pittsburgh area companies to participate and received completed, confidential surveys from nearly 16,000 employees at 126 organizations. The survey’s 22 questions measured seven factors, three of which addressed how they feel about their day-to-day job.

Participating PITT OHIO employees noted: “I have the latitude and flexibility to get my job done;” “a very professional, caring organization;” “they are friendly, open-minded, flexible and honest.”

It’s rewarding for PITT OHIO to be held in high esteem by its workforce, said Executive Vice President Geoff Muessig. “Excellent customer service is a prerequisite for success in our business and high employee morale is a prerequisite for excellent customer service.”

The Strip District-based trucking company was founded in 1979, specializing in hauling less than full truckloads of goods across the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. It has since expanded to handling supply chain needs of other businesses and delivering packages across North America, employing 567 people across the Pittsburgh region.

PITT OHIO has several immediate openings for commercial truck drivers – the most in-demand job in the Pittsburgh region – as well as for mechanics and dockworkers. It is also seeking business system analysts and other office-based jobs, and offers internships with hands-on experience in a range of jobs across the company. Its postings listings tout competitive wages and 100 percent employer-paid medical insurance.

Overall in the Pittsburgh region, employees surveyed indicated that organization health was the most important issue for them. Pay and benefits were lowest among the seven factors. WorkplaceDynamics’ website called that unsurprising: “Time and time again, [our] research has shown paying more money does not make a bad workplace better.

“What really motivates employees is feeling they are part of a company that is going places. This means an organization that sets a clear direction for its future and how it conducts itself; executes well and has a culture of high performance; and creates a strong connection between employees and the company by showing appreciation and by bringing meaning to work.”

You can learn more about WorkplaceDynamics methodology and findings here, and read the Pittsburgh-related results here.

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Phil Cynar

The September 2012 issue of Site Selection, the leading publication of the corporate real estate and industry, gives eight pages of ink to our region in a special investment profile, “Pittsburgh: The New Center of American Energy.”  The piece examines the greater region’s emergence “as a U.S. leader in technological innovation in a wide variety of energy sectors.”  More than 24 companies and organizations working in our rapidly growing energy sector and encompass natural resources, the supply chain for both traditional and renewable energy, and energy efficiency technology and innovation.

These organizations illustrate the impact that the public and private sectors, as well as our academic community in greater Pittsburgh, are having on the effort to advance America’s energy independence from Pittsburgh, the place where the energy industry had its birth with the drilling of the first natural gas and oil wells and the building of the first natural gas pipeline, If you don’t subscribe to Site Selection, no worries, You can read the article here, beginning on page 115.

Jim Futrell

For the past five years, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance have celebrated “Wins” day, a Wednesday in March when we tote up all the announced investment and development projects, or “wins,” of the previous year.

In 2011, the 10-county Pittsburgh region landed 286 economic development wins – 242 as corporate expansions or new facilities, 44 as real estate deals. That translates to 11,440 new and 5,620 retained jobs, as well as capital investment of $1.5 billion. You can read more about this in my column in this week’s Pittsburgh Business Times. Download a copy of it here, read it online (with subscription) at Pittsburgh Business Times, or pick up the March 16-22 edition on a newsstand.

Underscoring our emerging role as the new center of American energy, there were 79 energy-related wins, including new business or expansions by extracting companies and those in the natural gas supply chain of turbines, pumps and electrical components, as well as wind-energy developers. The growth of financial and business services contributed to these gains, too.

Advanced manufacturing also did well in 2011, as the national trade journal Industry Week recently noted.

You can read my column here, our blog post about our “Wins” day here, our detailed news release with links to growth in individual sectors here, and catch comments about it from our CEO, Dennis Yablonsky, here.

Smithfield – a borough of Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania, about 90 minutes south of Pittsburgh – has the distinction of being centrally located in both the Marcellus and Utica Shale natural gas plays. It is, you might say, at the “heart” of a significant natural resource opportunity that can help advance America’s energy independence.

This strategic location was one of the key reasons why Houston, Texas-based Valerus announced its decision, early in 2011, to build a 21,500-square-foot aftermarket service facility in Smithfield. The company services natural gas compressors there, bringing jobs with competitive compensation and benefits to Fayette County.

On November 2, Valerus formally launched operations with a ribbon-cutting celebration that included the facility’s current 18-person workforce, which is anticipated will grow to nearly 30 as additional positions are added over the next year.

Valerus officials spoke about their decision to invest in southwestern Pennsylvania – a place that’s all about location for the company, as well as a place with workforce talent who are manufacturing-savvy and primed to handle industrial equipment repairs and services.

The greater Pittsburgh region also has to its advantage the recently launched Energy to the Power of Pittsburgh public awareness campaign. It aims to make people in the region aware of the more than 2,000 energy-related job opportunities open now, and how to get the skills necessary for these jobs. It’s also helping companies find the people that they need to hire or connect dots on the training that potential hires must have.

Watch the video below to hear from Valerus leaders, as well as comments from regional economic development officials who recognize that without ample shovel-ready sites (such as the acreage on which the Valerus facility was built) and the necessary infrastructure in place, including interstate highway access, strategic investments such as this simply wouldn’t happen.

You can also watch a second video to hear from a couple of new Valerus employees, natives of the region, about why they are excited to be working for the company and what opportunities they anticipate in working for a world leader in this field.

Growth in the Pittsburgh region’s energy sector has fueled the regional economy and helped it to weather the Great Recession better than many competitors. Natural gas and the Marcellus Shale play, in particular, have been key drivers of this positive economic impact. The Marcellus Shale boom goes far beyond drilling and extraction. There are opportunities up and down the supply chain being created by this natural resource, which demonstrates how the Pittsburgh region’s historic strengths in manufacturing can leverage other regional industries and advance America’s energy independence. As this happens, prosperity can be created for owners of supply chain companies, large and small.

On October 24, these opportunities – particularly as they apply to small- and medium-sized businesses in the region – were assessed at a Marcellus Shale Supply Chain Seminar, held at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Click here to learn more about the workshop and watch videos featuring Marcellus Shale Coalition President and Executive Director Kathryn Klaber and U.S. Steel Tubular’s Doug Matthews, as well as partner organizations and several of the workshop participants.

And be sure to check out, where you can search a database of careers, or check out the campaign’s latest commercials airing during local Penguins hockey broadcasts and at Pitt home football games.

As the second-largest proven natural gas reserve in the world, the Marcellus Shale offers unique opportunities for economic growth in the greater Pittsburgh region.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance wants to both help local businesses tap into these economic opportunities and attract investment into the region and its energy supply chain.  The PRA commissioned Taimerica Management Co., an economic development firm with experience in studying how “clusters” of business can grow around strategic locations, to study the opportunities and challenges.

Taimerica analysts Ed Bee and Charlotte Baton presented early findings from their study, including an assessment of the region’s competitive position for shale gas supply chain opportunities, the community and site prep requirements related to those opportunities, and identified seven areas of the natural gas supply chain that the region is uniquely positioned to leverage for economic growth.


Consultants Ed Bee and Charlotte Baton discuss regional supply chain opportunities and the importance of training programs like ShaleNET to develop a skilled workforce.

Natural gas isn’t just about heating homes or running power plants. The Marcellus Shale boom has opened opportunities to innovate new uses such as “clean diesel” and fuel cells to power electronics.