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StartUp Visa Act would give immigrant entrepreneurs visas to stay in places like Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on upcoming legislation in Congress that would give green cards to immigrants poised to start new businesses and put Americans to work.

The StartUp Visa Act targets startup efforts across all sectors, but enthusiasm for the bill is especially acute in tech communities like Pittsburgh that see an outsize number of foreign-born students who want to stay and develop a company.

But these new visas -- a permanent resident card (or "green card") called an EB-6 -- aren't available to any immigrant with a good idea. To qualify, an entrepreneur would need to raise at least $250,000 from investors, and over two years create at least five full-time jobs in the United States, attract $1 million in additional investment or surpass revenue of $1 million.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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PA's manufacturing sector driving economic rebound, says study

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes about a study that says PA's manufacturing sector is driving the economic rebound..

"Manufacturing is driving the economic rebound," said Petra Mitchell, president of the nonprofit Catalyst Connection in South Oakland, an agency that helps companies grow and develop new products.

The state's manufacturers generated goods and services -- or gross state product -- of $131,147 per employee in 2010, compared to $97,222 last year for non-manufacturers, according to the study.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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PA offers plenty of potential for entrepreneurship, state treasurer says

Technically Philly shares an interview with state treasurer Rob McCord, who says that with more resources, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh could become centers for entrepreneurship.

I’m a glass half full guy. Pennsylvania is doing very well, not perfect, but very well.

Most regions in the country couldn’t just add water -- give them a certain amount of money -- and have jobs follow. Philadelphia is one of those regions.

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, is another. Very few people in the southeast know what is happening in that southwest portion. It takes more work there, but it’s real. I look at it region by region, and Pennsylvania has a uniquely high number of those regions that can offer wealth from (entrepreneurship).

Original source: Technically Philly
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Canadian company plans $800M clean-coal power plant in Schuylkill County

The Republican-Herald reports that EmberClear, based in Alberta, Canada, expects to build a massive clean-coal power plant near Pottsville, leading to 100 permanent jobs.

Experts believe the proposed technology at EmberClear's planned plant -- dubbed the Good Spring Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, or Good Spring IGCC -- represents the future.

"This is certainly one of the ways forward for cleaner coal with higher efficiencies and definite ways of moving forward to replace some of the 30-year-old coal plants we have that are really showing their age," said Jonathan Matthews, an assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University. "I would say that there is some room for competing technology, (but) IGCC is probably the frontrunner in many peoples' minds."

Original source: The Republican-Herald
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Rendell leaves governor's mansion, returns to Philly law firm

The Wall Street Journal reports that former Gov. Ed Rendell has returned to his old law firm in Philadelphia. He also plans to write a book and push for investment in infrastructure.

Mr. Rendell is rejoining his old law firm, Ballard Spahr LLP in Philadelphia, where he said he’ll advise clients on a wide array of issues, including energy, higher education, health care and public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment.

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Coal is still king in PA, but alternative energy, deregulation are changing the landscape

Coal provides more than half of Pennsylvania's electricity, but the growth of alternative power sources and deregulation of electric utilities is altering the energy landscape, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

At play in the energy debate is geography. On one side: the state's still-thriving coal towns, largely in the southwest. On the other: former industrial regions, such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown, that after decades of job loss see fresh economic opportunity. At a former U.S. Steel site in Bucks County, for example, a wind-turbine manufacturer employs 265.

But deregulation of the electricity market makes the battle relevant to all Pennsylvanians. It has given them more choice over who supplies their electricity, and how much of it -- if any -- they want to come from alternative sources such as solar and wind power.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Pittsburgh's sustainability coordinator moving on to Harrisburg conservation group

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Pittsburgh's first sustainability coordinator, Lindsay Baxter, is taking a job with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

Over the past year, (Baxter) worked on a project to install 3,000 cost-efficient LED streetlights in business districts, and a project to retrofit the City-County Building with energy- and money-saving upgrades. She served on the city's Shade Tree Commission.

During her tenure, Baxter created a green guide for residents and businesses to lessen their impact on the environment and initiated a recycling drop-off program in the City Hall lobby. She addressed newly hired city employees at orientation meetings about the importance of conserving energy, said Joanna Doven, the mayor's spokeswoman.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Legal firm adds attorneys to focus on energy law

The Legal Intelligencer reports that law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, which has offices across the state, has hired five attorneys who specialize in traditional and renewable sources of energy.

When it comes to energy and the Keystone State, utilities have been less of a focus than has renewable energy and natural gas. Pennsylvania -- particularly in the western and northeastern parts of the state -- has been a hotbed for firms looking to get a piece of the Marcellus Shale pie. A number of out-of-state firms have opened or grown offices in Pittsburgh and homegrown firms have added depth in their energy, corporate and litigation practices, all related to the growth of the natural gas industry in the state.

Original source: The Legal Intelligencer
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Gov. Corbett appoints advisor to focus on energy policy

The Daily Review reports that Gov. Tom Corbett has appointed an advisor to coordinate energy policy.

(Patrick) Henderson has been director of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee chaired by Sen. Mary Jo White, R-21, Oil City.

"This is one person whose job it is to develop and coordinate energy policy," said Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley.

The drilling boom for natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation is one reason why this job is being created, he added. But Mr. Henderson's portfolio will cover policies concerning clean coal technology, nuclear power and alternate energy as well.

Original source: The Daily Review

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Farm Show Complex full of energy-saving additions

The Reading Eagle reports that this year's Pennsylvania Farm Show is taking place in a venue with new energy-saving features, from a wind turbine to aerators on faucets.

Over the past nine months, the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex has gone through a $3.6 million upgrade designed to save on energy and money.

All told, the upgrades are expected to save Pennsylvania more than $300,000 a year, said Patrick J. Kerwin, executive director.

Energy improvements will also save 1,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

Original source: Reading Eagle
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PA legislator, voted out of office, pushing algae's potential to create fuel

State Rep. David Kessler got voted out of office last month, but is already working to bring algae-based fuel to Pennsylvania, WFMZ reports.
"We're talking about weaning ourselves off of foreign oil," Kessler said of his business venture, which is rooted in algae. "It's a blue green algae called TerraDerm."
In May, Kessler secured a $175,000 state grant to study the possibility of bringing that technology to Pennsylvania. Now, the results are in and positive.

According to the study, the initiative could bring more than 3,000 jobs to the state. It's also passed the first phase of testing for the military at the U.S. Air Force Labs in Ohio.
Original source: WFMZ
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PA intellectual property attorneys embrace high-tech devices

Pennsylvania's intellectual property lawyers are ahead of their colleagues in adopting devices like iPads and Kindles, The Legal Intelligencer reports.

In mid-November, The Legal Intelligencer ran a story headlined "Pennsylvania Firms Not Early Adopters of Tech Trends," in which several midsized general practice firms said they still prefer BlackBerry devices to alternatives like Apple's iPhone and see little practical use in devices like Amazon's Kindle eReader or Apple's iPad tablet computer.

Almost immediately after that story ran, we received feedback from lawyers who said they use these devices for work on a regular basis.

Invariably, they were intellectual property attorneys.

Original source: The Legal Intelligencer
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PA is No. 3 in U.S. for number of solar projects, says gov't survey

A recent government survey shows that Pennsylvania is one of the top states for generating solar power, EarthTechling reports.

The EPA highlighted new data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) latest open photovoltaic survey, which ranks Pennsylvania third nationally in the number of solar projects operating today and fourth in installed capacity. According to NREL, the state now has 2,434 projects that account for 38.5 megawatts of generating capacity–enough to power about 5,800 homes–second only to California and New Jersey.

Original source: EarthTechling
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Pennsylvania No. 2 on solar jobs creation list

The National Solar Jobs Census ranks Pennsylvania, with 282 solar companies and 6,700 solar jobs, behind only national leader California in its survey, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times.

A large chunk of Pennsylvania’s calculation likely came from two southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturing projects--Solar Power Industries and Flabeg Corp.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which issues grants, loans and tax credits to projects meant to spur economic growth, Solar Power Industries promised to create 510 jobs on top of its existing 165 jobs at its manufacturing plant in Westmoreland County (inside the former Sony factory). Flabeg, which opened a 209,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Clinton Commerce Park last October, promised the DCED it would add another 300 jobs to its 85 existing positions.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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PA set to receive $29M for small business loans

Pennsylvania's cut of the US Treasury's $15 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative is close to $30 million, reports Pittsburgh Business Times.

Under the SSBCI, states are offered the opportunity to apply for federal funds for programs that partner with private lenders to extend greater credit to small businesses. They are required to demonstrate a minimum “bang for the buck” of $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding. Pennsylvania’s allocation is $29,241,232. That is expected to generate $292.4 million in new loans.

The funding is part of an incentive package signed into law by President Barack Obama Sept. 27, which also included restoration of many Small Business Administration programs that expired earlier this year.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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