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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Lehigh Valley electronics recycling plant recognized for sustainable practices

WFMZ reports that AERC/ComCycle, an electronics recycling facility in Allentown has been honored by the federal government for its environmentally responsible practices.

A certified recycler must show an independent third-party auditor that it meets specific standards to safely recycle electronics. Some of the standards include helping to reduce energy and natural resource consumption, greenhouse gases and hazardous waste.

Officials said the Allentown facility processes more than 600,000 pounds of electronics monthly, without using any landfill space.

AERC/ComCycle has five electronics processing facilities across the country and is one of the nation's largest electronics recyclers.

Original source: WFMZ
Read the full story here.

Smart phones now point the way to Appalachian Mountain trail maps

The Morning Call reports on a new, mobile-friendly website that shows visitors where they can find fishing holes, hiking and biking trails in Pennsylvania's Appalachians.

People can find trails that are close to where they live or within a 90-minute drive and check out length of the trail, terrain, parking lot locations and the ability to track progress on the trail thanks to the GPS-enabled phones. There also are social media buttons to add to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"We want you to have the opportunity to get outside for the afternoon or on a Saturday without having to dig through a book or printing out maps from the Internet," (the Appalachian Mountain Club's Mark) Zakutansky said.

Of course, you can print the maps off the Internet if you don't have a smart phone, but the site was designed with the availability of smart phone and its immediate interaction in mind. There's a news feed directly into the site's blog, "Hike the Highlands," as well as condition updates.

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

Biologists hike to remote Pennsylvania streams to learn where trout live

The New York Times reports on fishery biologists who temporarily electro-shock trout in Pennsylvania streams to inventory the fish so the waterways can be protected.

Participants make rigorous treks, often to remote, mountainous areas, and electro-fish headwater streams to temporarily immobilize trout so they can be captured, counted and measured before they are released.

While about 3,650 streams are currently managed for wild trout, scores of new prospects are now on the agency’s radar. The goal, according to a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Bill Worobec, is to ensure that they receive maximum protection before fish and their habitats are in danger of being destroyed.

“This project is extraordinarily proactive, which, in government, is rare,” said Mr. Worobec, who lives in north central Pennsylvania, a region that abounds both in trout and Marcellus shale. “We’re discovering we have substantially more wild trout waters than most people ever imagined and we don’t want to lose them through ignorance.”

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