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Allentown curator and restorer of classic cars earns huge New York Times feature

Allentown's Keith Flickinger is supervising the construction of a compound to house a vast collection of classic cars belonging to Nicola Bulgari, the Italian jewelry magnate.

Mr. Flickinger, who describes himself modestly as a “Pennsylvania Dutch kid,” is the curator and chief restorer of the Bulgari collection, which emphasizes American marques from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. In contrast to the prestigious luxury models and European sports cars that tend to fill the garages of wealthy collectors, the cars that Mr. Bulgari focuses on are the workaday models intended for the middle class.

Many are from defunct brands like Hudson, Nash and Graham. About 125 cars are kept in Allentown, where there are seven warehouse buildings; another 85 or so — including the faster cars — are in Rome, where Mr. Bulgari lives, and are flown to Allentown when repairs are needed.

Why is all of this in Allentown? “Because of me,” Mr. Flickinger said.

The men met in 1995, when a collector based in Allentown recommended Mr. Flickinger’s restoration shop, Precision Motor Cars, to Mr. Bulgari for repairs to a 1942 Buick woody wagon that had been damaged at Mr. Bulgari’s New York estate.
“I did the work and he added a whole pile of other restoration work on top of that,” Mr. Flickinger recalled. “I finished the job and he asked me to take care of his cars worldwide.”

That was a major change for the owner of a small shop. “I used to have 501 customers,” he said. “Now I have just one...”

Besides the seven warehouses, four of which hold restoration shops, the 21-acre Allentown compound includes the grounds of a derelict drive-in movie theater, where Mr. Bulgari is building a track and a 24,000-square-foot Italian-themed stone barn for charity events and collector meets.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story (and check out the slideshow) here.
 

Philly physicist, Allentown saxophonist and Pittsburgh poet among this year's MacArthur 'geniuses'

Danielle S. Bassett, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the youngest recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant. Pennsylvania had a strong showing overall: other winners include Steve Coleman, 57, a composer and alto saxophonist in Allentown, and Terrance Hayes, 42, a poet and professor at University of Pittsburgh who won a National Book Award for his collection Lighthead.

The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals...

The oldest fellow this year is Pamela O. Long, 71, a historian of science and technology in Washington, whose work explores connections between the arts and science. The youngest is Danielle S. Bassett, 32, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who analyzes neuron interactions in the brain as people perform various tasks. She seeks to determine how different parts of the brain communicate and how that communication changes with learning or in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease.

When she received the call informing her of the no-strings-attached windfall, Ms. Bassett recalled being stunned into silence.

“Halfway through, I said, ‘Are you absolutely sure you got the right person?’ ” Ms. Bassett said in a telephone interview. “Then they read my bio to me. It’s an unexpected honor and sort of validation.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Allentown is on the upswing, and the state played a huge role

The Atlantic details big changes in Allentown, and the role of the state in its revitalization.

Allentown has been struggling economically for decades, its problems exacerbated by the demise or exodus of nearby big employers (Bethlehem Steel and Mack Trucks), the collapse of its downtown retail sector (accelerated by the growth of sprawl-malls, and symbolized by the folding of the once-grand Hess department store), and the flight of white residents to neighboring towns as mainly lower-income Latinos arrived from New York and New Jersey. Allentown, in short, got caught in a familiar downward cycle of cumulative deterioration.
 
But, as Jim Fallows previewed here last Thursday, Allentown is starting to find its way along the comeback trail, despite its long-standing problems. There are a lot of people in Allentown—public officials and people in the business community—who have worked hard to engineer a turn-around for the city. But they haven't done it on their own.

The whole state of Pennsylvania is, perhaps unknowingly, lending a hand. How so? Allentown's path of recovery, in the form of its current burst of downtown construction, is being paved in part with money diverted from the general treasury of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As Jim Fallows noted, all this is happening through an unusual tax-distribution arrangement known as the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), passed by the state legislature in 2009. Here's an oversimplified version of what happens: The state as a whole is partly underwriting the re-construction of Allentown's downtown.


Original source: The Atlantic
Read the complete story here.

Lehigh Valley recognized for economic development

Lehigh Valley has been named one of the top spots for economic development in the country.

With 46 projects, the Lehigh Valley ties for second place with Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for new and expanded corporate facilities in 2013 in areas with a population between 200,000 and one million people.

"This makes me feel good as a lifelong resident of the Lehigh Valley," said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.

"This is not some sort of subjective, who can market themselves better type of ranking, it's based on results," he said. "It's nice to see it occurring and the national market recognizing the significance of the Lehigh Valley."

The Omaha, Nebraska, area ranked number one with 48 projects. Some of the projects that helped land the Lehigh Valley on the list include Coca-Cola, Bimbo Bakeries and Kraft. While this is the sixth consecutive year this region has been in the top 10, the number two spot is its highest ranking yet.


Original source: WFMZ.com
Read the complete story here.

Lehigh Valley is among nation's regions most likely to adopt green transportation

ZDNet reports on a Pike Research study that rank Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton high on the list of metropolitan areas most likely to adopt alternative or green transportation like plug-in hybrids or electric cars.
 
Based on that criteria, Pike figures that sales of plug-in electric vehicles in the largest 102 cities in the United States will total 1.8 million from 2012 to 2020. 
 
Original source: ZDnet
Read the full story here.
 

Pocono Biking: On the family bike trail in Jim Thorpe

A New York Times writer brings his family to Lehigh Gorge State Park in Jim Thorpe, and with the help of Pocono Biking, enjoys local landmnarks like Picture Rock and Mud Run Creek.
 
Within minutes of being dropped off with perhaps 20 other passengers, we were on the trail, the Lehigh River far below on our left, and a steep, wooded hill dotted with waterfalls to our right. The trail is wide and well maintained, a gravel surface under a canopy of trees, with mile markers to chart progress, picnic tables and signs noting points of interest and giving a bit of history.
 
Original source:  The New York Times
Read the full story here.
 

Two PA employers among nation's top 25 toughest job interviewers

Allentown's Amazon facility and Philadelphia's Susquehanna International Group are among 25 of the toughest job interviews in a report compiled by Huffington Post.
 
In a down economy, acing a job interview has become increasingly important. With 3.5 unemployed people for each job opening in May, tough competition means credentials and qualifications found on a resume may not be enough, TIME reports. Instead, employers are concerned with how an employee will fit in.
 
Original source: Huffington Post
Read the full story here.
 
 

Allentown substitute teacher's artwork to dominate Times Square

Allentown substitute teacher Vicki DaSilva won an online contest to have an original work of art, 23 stories high, light up a Times Square billboard, reports The New York Times.
 
The site, ArtistsWanted.org, is not a charity but a business, one that hopes to make a profit identifying artistic talent and connecting it to an audience. Investors are pouring millions into it and similar start-ups and social networks like Behance.net and EveryArt.com, which cater to the growing cadre of people who consider themselves creative and think there’s a market for their work outside the network of galleries and dealers who dominate the commerce in art and design. Users and founders of these sites talk not only about making money but also about democratizing culture. 
 
Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.
 
 

Philly, Pittsburgh, New Hope make top arts destinations list

American Style's annual list of Top 25 Arts Destinations for large-, mid- and small-size cities inclues Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Hope, respectively.
 
New York City came in first (again) with 43.2 percent of the vote, with Washington, D.C. (No. 2, with 23.6 percent) and Chicago (No. 3, with 22.3 percent) trading places from last year’s standing to fill the remaining top two positions for the fifth year in a row. Out-of-the-blue write-in candidate Dayton, Ohio, vaulted to the No. 2 spot in the Mid-Size Cities list, and eight cities across all three categories were located in Florida.
 
Original source: American Style
Read the full story here.
 

Allentown's Air Products earns DOE funding for project with Penn State

Allentown-based Air Products and Chemicals is among 13 recipients of a combined $54 million in Department of Energy funding announced on Tuesday to develop technologies that will increase manufacturers' energy and cost efficiency, reports Gigaom.
 
Air Products and Chemicals: The company is getting $1.2 million to use the microbial reverse electrodialysis technology to recover waste heat and convert effluents into electricity and chemical products such as hydrogen gas. The company has teamed up with Pennsylvania State University for this work.
 
Original source: Gigaom
Read the full story here.


Lehigh Valley company collects used cooking oil from around the country, sells it around the globe

The Morning Call profiles Greenworks, a Lehigh Valley company that makes biofuel out of used cooking oil from 15,000 restaurants and institutions nationwide.

Greenworks, through its subsidiary the Association of Restaurant Owners for a Sustainable Earth, pays restaurants about 50 cents per gallon for their used cooking oil, refines it and sells the biofuel for a price that tracks diesel.

"It's something people don't think much about, but you have a lot of cooking oil coming through restaurants," said Robert Hiller, marketing and communications manager for Greenworks. "I've been in the food service business for 20 years now. I never knew this existed and it's really competitive out there."

It's not a small operation run out of someone's garage. Greenworks collects 40 million gallons of used cooking oil a year. It employs about 150 people, including 100 in the Lehigh Valley. It has processing plants in Allentown, Wind Gap, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The company also has an ownership stake in a plant in San Francisco.


Original source: The Morning Call
Read the full story here.

Cutting-edge equipment speeds innovation at Lehigh Valley manufacturer

American Machinist visits Victaulic, a Lehigh Valley manufacturer of pipe products, to learn how it uses advanced software and equipment to develop new products.

Cast prototypes are manufactured in the production area. Jerry Miley, Tech Center CNC programmer said, “We’re prototyping with a product that is actually coming out of our production process. This gets us to the closest representation of the real deal for the engineers, providing credible testing results. When it comes time to make tooling, these designs are production-ready.”

In spite of the heavy workload, CAM is allowing the prototypers to keep pace with an aggressive R&D schedule, and it is allowing the patternmakers to keep pace producing tools that support a vast range of part numbers. There are just four machinists in this shop, and they are making production tooling for Victaulic casting plants in North America, Europe, and Asia.


Original source: American Machinist
Read the full story here.

PA is one of country's top states for green jobs

The Atlantic reports on a government study showing that Pennsylvania is the state with the fourth-highest number of green jobs, and about 3 percent of all jobs in the commonwealth can be considered green.

The report defines green jobs across five categories: production of energy from renewable sources; energy efficiency; pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse; natural resources conservation; and environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness.

The majority of these green jobs (2.3 million) come from the private sector. The public sector employed about 860,000 people. The largest sector of employment was manufacturing, with more than 450,000 green jobs.

This squares with a July 2011 Brooking Institution study of clean economy jobs, which identified 2.7 million clean economy jobs across the United States. The report found that median wages for clean economy jobs are 13 percent higher than median U.S. wages, and that a disproportionate share of clean economy jobs are staffed by workers with relatively little formal education. This has created a sizable group of "moderately well-paying green collar occupations," according to the report.


Original source: The Atlantic
Read the full story here.

New WikiLeaks-style website created as outlet for whistleblowers in Appalachia

The Associated Press reports on Honest Appalachia, a newly launched website set up to accept leaked government and corporate documents from several states, including Pennsylvania.

The region also was selected, (co-founder Jim) Tobias said, because of its relatively rural area, believing there was less media scrutiny in the region and that a resource like Honest Appalachia would be particularly valuable.

Many newsrooms have shut down and many journalists have lost their jobs, Tobias says, increasing the chances that corruption and misconduct will go unchecked. And many whistleblowers are skeptical of sharing their information with mainstream media.

"We believe our country desperately needs watchdogs at the local, state and regional level," Tobias said.


Original source: Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Allentown's independenceIT helps student transportation company grow

CRN reports that an Allentown information technology provider helped a major school-bus company save substantially on its technology budget.

IndependenceIT (iIT), while a next-gen solution provider, is no stranger to the cloud game, with more than a decade of cloudiness under its belt. And when Student Transportation Inc. (STI) signed on with Allentown, Penn.-based IndependenceIT's cloud workspace, STI saw near immediate results and has managed to reduce its IT spend by roughly 72 percent the industry average.

"We host all of their apps in our environment," said IndependenceIT Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing Seth Bostock, adding that iIT hosts somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 apps for STI, including video tools, accounting apps, CRM and other office tools in its Total Freedom Workspace.

Bostock said that STI has about 5,000 employees, nearly 1,000 of whom leverage the cloud apps on a daily basis. Because the company is not spending money on IT staff -- it only has four full-time IT folks -- and other resources, it spends 72 percent less on IT than would a company of the same size.


Original source: CRN
Read the full story here.
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