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Squirrel Hill : Innovation & Startups

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Who's hiring in PGH? The Pittsburgh Foundation, WTAE and more

Each week, Pop City scours the web to bring you exciting career opportunities in Pittsburgh. Employers, if you have a job opening or internship you would like to promote, please email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line. Hit us up on Twitter @popcitypgh if our job listings put you on the path to success.

The Pittsburgh Foundation, a grant-making public charity dedicated to improving quality of life in the city and surrounding region, is hiring a director of public policy and advocacy. Requires at least five to seven years of experience in public policy and/or government relations, or a related field. Application materials are due by June 5, 2015.

The Career Development Center (CDC) of Jewish Family and Children's Service (JF&CS) is hiring an employer relations coordinator to oversee the business development efforts of the CDC, including facilitating job placements through the identification of job leads and developing outplacement and other business contacts with local and national employers.

La Escuelita Arcoiris, Pittsburgh's only Spanish immersion pre-school, is hiring lead and assistant teachers and an administrative assistant.

The Pittsburgh ABC affiliate WTAE needs five full-time digital video creators to work over the summer.

The Pittsburgh-based architectural firm mossArchitects is looking for an intermediate architect/designer with three to six years of interiors experience. The firm is also hiring an office manager.

Optimus Technologies, a startup that designs and manufactures next-generation fuel systems, is hiring multiple positions in Pittsburgh, including an electrical/mechanical assembler.

Paid Internships:

AllFacilities, a research and business development support services firm specializing in facilities management, has full-time summer internships available.

Check out our previous listings for more opportunities.

Blu Salt combines fashion with function to create sustainable bags

Entrepreneur Rohini Shah worked in the corporate world for over a decade, but became fed up with the inability to balance her demanding, travel-heavy career and her family.

"I used to be frustrated on many levels – the dissonance between the stereotypes of a good worker and mother was difficult for me to come to terms with," says Shah, who has a young son. "Similarly, I was frustrated with not being able to find carry products that I could use seamlessly in both my personal and professional life, without worrying about transferring everything I needed each time."

The answer to her problems was Blu Salt, a Pittsburgh-based independent retail company that she founded in 2013. Described as carrying products for the "Thinking Woman," the business focuses on making "little black bags" from recycled or reused materials. Shah hopes that Blu Salt will also help reduce consumption by offering a go-to accessory for all occasions.

"There are an infinite number of other choices when it comes to choosing a little black bag, but no other black bag is designed from scratch to help you consume less by simply being the most versatile bag you could use, eliminating the need for other bags, and maximizing the social good from having been created," says Shah.

Shah works with a designer from the West Coast to create Blu Salt's goods from sustainable materials. The bag exteriors are constructed from Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (RPET), while the lined interiors are made with organic cotton and upcycled silk. As Shah explains, the choice to use eco-friendly, cruelty-free fabrics not only gives consumers peace of mind, but a stylish, functional product.

"With our RPET exteriors, the fabric was chosen with a lot of care to have the feel of silk. It also has strength at the fraction of the weight of a leather bag, so from a user perspective, you have an extremely durable, but lightweight water- and stain-resistant bag," says Shah. "Similarly, the organic cotton and silk interiors ensure that cards and valuables are not scratched while still contributing to a lightweight bag with a lot of organizational space."

The first Blu Salt designs hit the market late last year to notable success -- one of their products, the Rama Wallet, was included in the Hollywood Swag Bag gift baskets for the 2015 SAG nominees. In addition to the wallet, the company also carries a clutch purse and a lunch bag. Shah adds that they are currently in the process of designing a laptop bag, a shoulder bag and a travel bag, all of which should be ready by the end of August or September.

Blu Salt bags are now available at Littles Shoes in Squirrel Hill and through the South Hills Style Truck

Who's hiring in PGH? Expedient, Mind Over Media and more!

So you need a job? Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. If you have a job opportunity to list, email innovationnews@popcitymedia.com with "hiring" in the subject line. Let us know on Twitter @popcitypgh if we've helped you snag the job of your dreams.

If you are a veteran and interested in working in the energy sector, Service to Opportunity (STO), a new website and initiative of the Allegheny Conference, goes live on Nov. 10 and can connect you with thousands of in-demand jobs in energy and advanced manufacturing in the Pittsburgh region.

Mind Over Media, a Pittsburgh-based marketing and communications firm with nationwide clients, is hiring a full-service graphic designer to work on campaigns and art direct video shoots. Candidates should have between two and five years of experience designing at an advertising/creative/web agency, marketing firm, news or lifestyle website or magazine or similar. Proficiency with InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and other standard graphic design software is a must. Applicants should be able to think both creatively and strategically and should be ready for multi-media work. Please submit cover letter, resume, and work samples (including at least two samples of live website work) to jobs@mindovermedia.com

The Kingsley Center, a community resource center complete with recreational activities, is looking for a family development specialist with a degree in early childhood development or social work to work with families on goals and planning. The ideal candidate has excellent communication skills, experience conducting groups, a current Pennsylvania driver’s license and access to a car, and Act 22/34 and FBI clearances. 

Expedient Data Centers, a provider of cutting-edge technology backup and data management solutions, is hiring a product manager to plan and develop new products and to be the go-to person for information about already created products. This collaborative and technical position requires an understanding of advanced computer architecture and the product development lifecycle in a technology environment. They are also looking for a network engineer to build out, augment, and maintain the backbone of connectivity services within and between various data centers and a director of sales to develop sales strategies, identify strategic partnerships and prepare sales forecasts while training and managing a team of outside salespeople. This position will require a significant amount of travel.

The Career Development Center of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh will hold a career fair with Macy’s on Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the CDC offices at 5743 Bartlett St. in Squirrel Hill. The fair will offer retail opportunities in sales, visual merchandising, administrative support and more. Macy’s of Ross Park Mall, Robinson and Monroeville are among the hiring locations. Those wishing to attend the career fair must register in advance by calling 412-586-3728.    
And if these jobs aren't enough, check out last week's listings for more opportunities! 

Feministing author and blogger Courtney Martin speaks at a free forum at Ellis on Sept. 25th

Courtney Martin is a fresh voice for the reinvention of feminism. Join her for a not-to-miss talk at The Ellis School when she addresses how advocacy and engagement can help girls find their own voices and pursue their dreams.
An author, journalist and blogger, Martin was raised by feminist parents in the age of Anita Hill and “Free to Be.”  “It was a beautiful, horrible time,” she told a TEDx audience this year, fraught with confusing paradoxes.
“I often say that we were told we could be anything and we heard we had to be everything,” Martin told Pop City this week. “The mistranslation was in the modeling—our mothers are the most dynamic, powerful women we know, but they are also the most exhausted and self-sacrificing, sometimes even self-loathing.
“I think young women today are trying to continue the great legacy of expanded success that our mothers have created, but figure out how to integrate more wellness, more joy, less guilt. Not an easy task,” she adds.
Martin is the author of two books, "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters" and "Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists,and an unflinching and articulate social commentator, from her condemnation of beauty pageants to her encouragement of less-than-perfect mothers.
“If you don't want your daughter to grow up with a toxic definition of success based on perfection, achievement for its own sake, and appearance, then you have to model an alternative in your own lives, your own conversations, your own family practices and culture,” she says. “Do as I say, not as I do doesn't work.” 
Come hear her for yourself. Martin will be at The Ellis School on Sept. 25th beginning at 6:30 p.m. While the talk is free, reservations are required. 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Courtney Martin

Looking good Pittsburgh. PittsburghTODAY report highlights the state of the region

PittsburghTODAY released its 2013 Today & Tomorrow report and the news across many sectors is enlightening.
With the economic recovery still underway in much of the country, Pittsburgh is the only benchmark region out of 15 that has experienced job growth and housing price appreciation. In addition, the labor force is at an all-time high and young people are returning and staying in the region.
Southwestern Pennsylvania continues to be one of the most affordable places for moderate-income families to live. A Brookings Institution study says so too, listing Pittsburgh as one of three cities in the U.S. to have recovered from the deep recession that began in 2007.
The region, however, has work to do in several areas, including transportation, the environment and issues pertaining to diversity, particularly in helping African Americans in the region to achieve the same quality of life as whites.
Among the highlights:
Population: It has been official but bares repeating: the region is attaining and attracting young talent. The region’s population of 20- to 34- year-olds grew by 7% over the last five years and is expected to grow another 8% in 2020. Three decades earlier the region was losing more than 50,000 people than it was attracting, mostly young adults.
Jobs: Jobs grew by a non-seasonably adjusted 1.7 percent in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from November 2007 to November 2012. Certainly not robust, but it was better than any of the Pittsburgh TODAY benchmark regions. Pittsburgh was the only region to post job growth over that period.
Tourism: Visitors to Southwestern Pennsylvania pumped $8.1 billion into the local economy in lodging, recreation, retail, food and beverage, transportation and other spending during 2011,the latest year the full data was reported. This is a 9.6% increase over 2010.

Housing: Pittsburgh was the only region in which the 5-year housing prices rose from 2007-2012.
Environment: While fine particle pollution is slowly decreasing, and met federal air quality standards for the first time in 2011 since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, smog and sewage spills and the health of our rivers remains an issue.
Fracking: Across the region, a survey shows that far more residents are convinced of the economic potential of the Marcellus Shale gas industry than are against drilling for it. More than 70% of those surveyed believe that gas drilling is boosting the local economy.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PittsburghTODAY

2012 was a good year for VC growth in Pittsburgh despite a nationwide decline

Venture capital investment across the region continued to climb steadily in 2012 with 79 deals that totaled $168.97 million, a 7.9% increase over 2011 when $156.53 million was raised and spread over 55 deals. 

The news in Pittsburgh was a bright spot; nationally VC figures declined by 10 percent from the prior year. All figures are from the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data from Thomson Reuters.

“We’re bucking a trend here in Pittsburgh which is very positive,” noted Gary Glausser who joined Innovation Works this month as Chief Investment Officer.

A longtime venture capitalist in the local community, Glausser was with South Side-based Birchmere Ventures for 13 years. He most recently handled alternative investments for the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, a total portfolio of $7 billion. He is also a member of the IW Board of Directors.

Among the highlights of the MoneyTree report for 2012:

The strongest showing in Pittsburgh was the life sciences and software sectors. More than 23 companies received funding in life sciences, predominantly medical device companies, and 19 software and IT services companies were funded. The number of software company deals last year is a sign of the region’s strength in this sector since software companies generally don’t require large infusions of cash, noted Terri Glueck of Innovation Works.

Innovation Works and The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) were the largest overall investors, IW with 12 deals and PLSG with six according to the MoneyTree report.

The companies that raised the largest rounds included: Avere Systems ($20 million), Thorley Industries ($20 million), TriStar Investors ($15 million) Duolingo ($15 million) Knopp Biosciences ($14.94 million) and BodyMedia ($11.89 million). 

Other local investors included: Birchmere Ventures, Draper Triangle Ventures, Adams Capital Management, BlueTree Allied Angels, Eagle Ventures and Pittsburgh Equity Partners.

“I personally think the next few years will be exciting,” Glausser adds. “We’re looking at a pipeline of opportunities here. Our mission is going to be to get the capital to put into these companies.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: NVCA and MoneyTree 

Going global? Safaba assists the transformation through machine translation

One of the biggest hurdles any company faces when it moves into the global marketplace is language.
Corporate communication, both digital and print, must be reinvented in many tongues if a company and its mission is to be understood. Squirrel Hill-based Safaba is a rising star in the field of machine translation, using software to translate vast amounts of text from one natural language into another. It's a feat that has taken years of development.
The startup was launched by Carnegie Mellon associate research professor Alon Lavie and co-founder Bob Olszewki in 2009.  While the company quietly operated under the radar for several years, developing custom and affordable solutions for commercial clients, it's now ready for primetime, says Udi Hershkovich, vice president of Business Development.
Companies like Google and Microsoft translate text between multiple languages, but there are limitations to their platforms, Hershkovich says. Enterprises today need more powerful solutions to tackle the corporate collateral, tackling vast amounts of textual material including online marketing, websites, technical documentation, manuals and support documentation.
Global ecommerce company PayPal signed on with Safaba as a client in 2011, using it for its ecommerce in the Nordic languages. The solution proved superior to the system they had been using. In 2012, Safaba began working with global computer giant Dell and its Dell.com ecommerce division.
The escalating need for language translation designed for mobile enterprises is also driving business. The Squirrel Hill office is currently at 11. Hershkovich anticipates aggressive growth in 2013.
Machine translation is poised for explosive growth as the technology improves, requiring less post-editing and becoming more commercially viable, he adds.
“Companies today all need a more personalized experience and communication in real time, in today’s online world. To allow companies to be successful in the home market, they need to transition into other languages.”
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Udi Hershkovich, Safaba

Sprout Fund supports 20 new biodiversity projects with $190,000; PLSG on the move

Good news for the region's biodiversity and life sciences industry.

PLSG received $500,000 in funding that will help to establish a life sciences campus on the South Side at the River Park Commons Business Center.

The funding comes from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant from the state. The new campus will provide space for four to six wet-labs in addition to the existing 9,000 square feet of life sciences labs. PLSG will also move its office to the campus.

"The demand for this campus is significant as an increasing number of new biotechnology companies are being launched throughout the nation, and geographic clusters to house these new, start-up companies are highly competitive," said John W. Manzetti, President and CEO.

In other news, 20 biodiversity projects received $190,000 this week as part of a new initiative to support the stewardship of Southwestern Pennsylvania's natural resources.

The Sprout Fund and The Pittsburgh Foundation hope to jumpstart community-based biodiversity projects in the region through the Spring Program. The funded projects were selected from among 75 applications, says Dustin Stiver of The Sprout Fund.

"These projects offer an exciting array of innovative solutions to the many environmental challenges we face," says Stiver. "With diverse objectives and creative approaches, they give promise that the biodiversity of our resource-rich region can be preserved and enhanced for generations to come."

Six biodiversity projects received $20,000 awards including:

BioShelter and Food Systems Center at the Garfield Community Farm, where a permanent bioshelter will extend the farm's growing season and offer educational opportunities to the nearby elementary school;

Green Roofs for Bus Shelters in East Liberty, introducing flora and fauna into the urban environment through a living green roof on Penn Avenue;

Heritage Seed Bank and Nursery for seed banks and educational opportunities in the preservation of native heritage or heirloom edible plants;

Native Appalachian Garden, part of Pittsburgh Botanical Garden, cultivating woodland species of the region;

And Take a Hike: Backyard Biodiversity for a traveling presentation that will lead elementary school children on an exploration of the Earth's biomes at the Carnegie Science Center.

The other 14 recipients receiving $5,000 awards are include outdoor classrooms for children, ecological gardens, artificial chimney habitats for neotropical migrant birds, rain gardens in schoolyards with the help of Nine Mile Run Watershed Assoc. and native plant restoration projects.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: PLSG, Dustin Stiver, The Sprout Fund

Pittsburgh aspires to be the most tech-savvy city in the country

The e-democracy race is on and if Councilman Bill Peduto has his way, Pittsburgh will blow the door of city government wide open and leave cities like Boston in the dust.

Peduto invited several Pittsburgh-based tech companies to City Hall this month to discuss using a mix of homegrown technologies to promote a unique blend of tools that would help constituents to better track goings on.

Among those who came to the table were online social political network MyGov365, searchable video data company Panopto Inc, web-based broadcaster Vivo and the Carnegie Mellon developer of YinzCam technology, which allows mobile phone users to watch replays of Penguins action inside the arena.

This is just the beginning, says Peduto. The discussion won’t be limited to these companies.

“Pittsburgh can be a model of e-democracy for the world. We want Pittsburgh (government) to not only be on the forefront, but to offer leverage to our own Pittsburgh-based companies to use the city as a test market to sell their products worldwide.”

Pittsburgh has $52,000 to webcast council meetings, which should be enough to cover the webcast and more, Peduto says. The city plans to award a contract to begin providing webcasts and searchable video by the end of this month.

Other proposed initiatives include an iPhone application for city government, a searchable database of all council votes and records offered by MyGov365 and offering online access to community meetings.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Councilman Bill Peduto, City of Pittsburgh

Image courtesy Councilman Bill Peduto

Vivisimo names new President and CEO to growing team

Squirrel Hill enterprise search engine pioneer, Vivisimo, is shifting into high gear with two powerhouse executives who are joining the growing team. 

John Kealey (pictured right) and Kevin Calderwood (left) will serve as CEO and president respectively. Founder and former CEO Raul Valdes-Perez will become executive chairman. Both men bring two decades of executive management experience to the firm from Virginia where they both worked at iDirect Technologies and a mix of technologies and markets.

Both will serve on Vivisimo’s board of directors. In addition, Vivisimo has added Phil Carrai to its board of directors. Carrai is currently executive vice president of the $100 million IT solutions group for Kratos Defense, Inc.

"This rocket is ready to accelerate so we're looking for the best people to move forward," says Valdes-Perez who has been discussing the move for the past year. "We are a major player in enterprise search and have the best product on the market."

Valdes-Perez says he plans to devote more time to innovation technology development.

Kealey’s background includes more than 25 years in the communications and information technology business. He formerly served on Vivisimo’s advisory board and is the former president and CEO of iDirect Technologies in Herndon, VA, which he helped to grow into a global leader with $120 million in revenue. The company was acquired by Singapore Technologies in 2005.

Calderwood was a founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Amp Capital Partners in Reston, VA, and Palo Alto, CA. He served as executive manager for two Amp Capital portfolio companies and was chairman of the board of iDirect until 2005.

For complete bios, click here.

Vivisimo is one of the fastest growing companies in Pittsburgh. The firm employs 100 and has plans to hire people in technology, engineering and professional services in the coming year.

“After nine consecutive years of growth and a loyal customer base that spans markets and geographies, Vivisimo’s potential couldn’t be greater,” says  Calderwood. “I’ve worked for many companies over the years, but none have had this perfect storm combination of the right product with a hungry, growing market and, of course, the right people. The opportunity here is remarkable.”

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Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Raul Perez-Valdez, Leo Tignini, Vivisimo

Images courtesy Vivisimo

Getting ready for the G-20 Summit--weigh in now!

When leaders of the world’s most important emerging-market countries come to Pittsburgh this fall, what will they need, see and experience?

Suggestions poured in this past week during three public brainstorming sessions. Not able to attend?  Share your ideas and sign up for potential volunteer opportunities at the Pittsburgh G-20 Partnership Web site by clicking here.

“We’ve gotten some really great ideas, things we hadn’t thought of,” reports Kevin Evanto of Allegheny County. “Many say they want the city to gleam, a display of flags of all the nations, to welcome people in their native language.”

One gentleman suggested inviting illusionists to walk the streets because no one needs a translator to understand the language of magic.

Other thoughts? Pittsburgh must live up to its green image with sustainable opportunities and recycling offered everywhere, at hotels, on the streets, in parks. Stage a special light-up or festival of lights, get the ethnic communities involved, improve signage and enlist university and high school students to volunteer.

“We’re still waiting to hear from the White House on many issues, but we want to be as prepared as possible so when we get direction, we can act,” Evanto adds. “We want to be in a position to respond to the White House right away.”

The county plans to create an online media center so when 3,000 reporters descend, they will find a Web site filled with story ideas and local opportunities.

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Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Kevin Evanto, Allegheny County

Marcellus Shale: drillers move in, environmentalists rally for tax and habitat relief

The largest gas deposit in North America, a reservoir lodged in rock 6,000 feet under the ground, is luring big gas drillers from around the world to our region.

It’s also causing concern among environmental groups across the state.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas recently opened a regional office in Pittsburgh to better position the company for Marcellus Shale business, a deposit that spans four states and may contain 50 trillion cubic feet in natural gas estimated at $1 trillion. 

Pittsburgh is the firm's new North Region office; the company’s offices in Charleston, W.Va. and Denver, Colo. will close by the end of the summer and more than half of the impacted staff will move to Pittsburgh, according to the company.

Environmental concerns about the drilling have prompted local groups to rally for a state severance tax on the drillers, money they believe should go to restore and preserve local habitats and urban streams, such as the restored Nine Mile Run Watershed in the East End.

In addition to the tax, PennFuture and others want to place a portion of the funds in the state's Environmental Stewardship Fund, which would reinvest in parks, habitats, waterways and open spaces.

The Marcellus Shale gas deposit runs from upstate New York, across most of Pennsylvania and into West Virginia and eastern Ohio. Most states charge drillers a small tax in exchange for extraction rights.  Pennsylvania should do the same, say tax supporters.

If approved, the tax could generate more than $100 million next year and $600 million by 2013, says Joylette Portlock, Western Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture.

PA Republican senate leaders are against the tax. Now is the time to contact legislators before the drilling is well established, Portlock told an assembled group at East Liberty Presbyterian Church last week.

“There are tremendous environmental impacts of drilling on the local economy,” added Hannah Hardy of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “This is the best way to ensure that there will be benefits to our community.”

To join PennFuture in support of the severance tax, click here.

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Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Joylette Portlock, PennFuture

Image courtesy flickr.com

Internships galore, find them and get 'em here

Looking for that perfect intern or internship? The Regional Internship Center of Southwestern Pennsylvania is an indispensable resource.

RIC is an online, local clearinghouse for internships in the region, connecting talented and eager college students with businesses, explains Regina Anderson, director of RIC.

This month the center launched a new streamlined Web site with a complete listing of available jobs-in-training, including resume help and networking suggestions. The site serves as a one-click location where students can connect with opportunities and businesses can recruit talent.

RIC also plans to expand its reach in the next several months to include other parts of the state.

“We’re very unique in terms of the kind of support we provide,” she says. “We directly address the brain drain by helping to attract and retain talent in the region.”

It’s not too late to find work for the summer, notes Anderson. While RIC currently lists internships for the fall, openings are posted on a year-round basis.

More than 400 students participate in the RIC summer program each year. In today’s job market, a student can’t have too many internships, she adds. Those who take advantage of multiple opportunities have an advantage over student job-seekers who’ve only done one internship during their college career.

The cost to participate is $50, but many companies agree to cover the fee.
The RIC is supported by 70 educational institutions in the region and is a program of Coro Pittsburgh. The program is sponsored by the Alcoa and Benedum foundations as well as The Heinz Endowments.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Regina Anderson, RIC

Image courtesy Coro Pittsburgh

Fill ‘er up—Howard Hanna jumps on board the Delta non-stop to Paris

The Howard Hanna Company has stepped up support for the non-stop Delta flight from Pittsburgh to Paris with the purchase of more than 100 reservations for company employees.

For the past 20 years, the real estate Hannas and Hanna Travel have rewarded their sales agents with incentives, three levels of trips they can earn based on their annual production. Top sellers will receive a trip to Paris aboard the Delta non-stop, five nights and six days during March of 2010.

“I feel it is imperative we all support our new service from Delta to make sure we retain a valuable airport here to encourage local businesses to grow within the region,” says Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.  “We want to make it easy for people from everywhere to be able to get here easily!”

The Allegheny Conference has pledged more than $4 million to Delta through the year 2012 in support of the direct flight, should revenue fall short.

“Nonstop air service sends a clear message to the world: The Pittsburgh region is open for bilateral business and foreign direct investment,” says Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

“Regional businesses can now efficiently connect with their global clients, and it’s equally efficient for those abroad looking to do business or invest here to connect with us. Using the service is the only way to ensure that our region doesn’t lose a critical business advantage.”

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Helen Casey Hanna, Howard Hanna; Dennis Yablonsky, Allegheny Conference

Image courtesy flickr.com

Call us Green County, Car Free Fridays and other sustainable news

Allegheny County will use $8.1 million in federal stimulus funding to conduct energy audits of county municipal buildings and offer energy-saving upgrades to County-owned municipal facilities.

Duquesne Light will partner with the county on the audits, which will include a review of lighting systems, heating and air conditioning, computer systems and the overall thermal envelope. About $2 million will be spent on the upgrades; eligibility will be based on the percentage of low and moderate income population in each municipality.

Another $5.8 million will be spent on conservation projects at the Courthouse, County Office Building, Jail, Shuman Center and Kane Regional Centers. The reduced energy consumption should save taxpayers an estimated $500,000 annually, the county says.

Allegheny County has also hired Jeaneen Zappa as the region’s first sustainability manager. Zappa will work with County departments and the Green Action Team to identify ways to improve the region’s ecological footprint.

The greening of the county “will result in significant energy conservation projects in local government facilities throughout Allegheny County, which will translate into savings for taxpayers and jobs for local workers,” says County Executive Dan Onorato.

In other green news, BikePGH hopes to clean the local air this summer by expanding its Bike to Work Day to an every week event. Car Free Fridays will start on June 12, a city-wide initiative to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home once a week and walk, bike or take public transportation. The event is sponsored by Port Authority and Mullen.

And Pittsburgh’s first green concert series is back, bigger and better than ever. The free, outdoor Solar Concert Series will feature 13 shows powered by a solar-energy sound system. For concert information, click here.

To receive Pop City free each week, click here.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Dan Onorato, Kevin Lane, Allegheny County; Bike Pittsburgh

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