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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
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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
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
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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
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
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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
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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.

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
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Nineteenth-century strains of wheat being ground into flour at Lebanon County mill

The Washington Post reports on the nine-year quest to grow heritage varieties of wheat for a south-central PA flour mill, the country's oldest continuously operating mill.

This summer, finally, a lush and picturesque 35 acres of wheat with multi-hued names such as White Wonder, Purple Straw and Red May has been thriving in Kutztown, Pa., at the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit organization that researches organic farming methods. And Annville Flouring Mill’s rollers have once again ground what might be the very same wheat they started with.

Last October, (mill owner Dave) Poorbaugh entrusted 500 pounds of seed to Jeff Moyer, the Rodale Institute’s farm director, for one down-and-dirty reason: soil. “They’ve been doing something every year to improve that soil since 1972,” Poorbaugh says. In this case, “improving” means going back in time. “We planted that wheat in soil that looks more like it did in the 1800s than the soil at most farms today.”


Original source: The Washington Post
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Allentown's new iPhone app provides information, interaction with city government

The Morning Call reports on Allentown's new iPhone app, which gives users the ability to complain to city hall, report potholes and more.

Want to take a tour of the city wastewater plant? The app lists the number to call.

It also shows maps of parking lots and decks in the city, so there should be no more complaints from visitors who say they don't know where to park, (Mayor Ed) Pawlowski said.

The app is a new concept for municipal governments, especially in Pennsylvania, he said.

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

Scientist and professional taste-tester aims to make PA wines better

The Erie Times-News reports on Denise Gardner, a wine expert with the Penn State Cooperative Extension, and her assignment to raise the quality of the state's wines.

Gardner, who fills a Penn State Cooperative Extension job that's been vacant for three years, has been hired to work with the state's 180 licensed wineries to provide them with education, confidential advice and the benefit of a trained palate.

"My new job is using sensory science to help winemakers to identify defects in their wine," she said.

The simple job description is that she tastes wine and offers her opinions.

Original source
: Erie Times-News
Read the full story here.

Hispanics flock to Pennsylvania cities, bringing new culture and new businesses

USA Today reports on how a growing Hispanic population is transforming Pennsylvania cities like Allentown, Bethlehem and Reading.

The Hispanic immigrant experience deeply mirrors that of Europeans, particularly from Italy and Poland, says Emilio Parrado, a University of Pennsylvania professor who specializes in Hispanic immigration. These immigrants came from disadvantaged backgrounds, and in many cases, took more than three generations to make significant progress in education, employment and intermarriage.

Today, Hispanic small-business ownership is booming, especially in restaurant work, construction and landscaping, where fluent English might not be a necessity. The 2007 survey of business owners by the Census Bureau showed that Hispanic business ownership had grown by 43% in just five years.

"They look for opportunities to move up, socially," Parrado explains. "That's why the immigrants, especially, they work a lot, they work more than one job. And they try to provide opportunities for their kids, to send them to school. They look for better housing, and they open businesses. And everything is guided by this expectation of social mobility."

Original source: USA Today
Read the full story here.

Proposed legislation in Harrisburg would give tax credit for developing video games

Technically Philly reports on state Sen. Daylin Leach's proposal for a tax credit that would benefit Pennsylvania video-game makers.

Senator Leach’s office offered these details to Technically Philly in April:

"The tax incentives would work just like the film production tax credit. A company would apply to the Department of Revenue for a qualifying production expense (or group of expenses such as physical space or computers, music or employees) and after approval and incursion of the expense in producing a video game in PA they would be awarded a tax credit. This tax credit can be used by the company that incurred it or it can be transferred to someone else. This helps the small companies be able to use the credit if they maybe don't have the tax liability of a larger production company and therefore don't have the income to offset with a credit."

Original source: Technically Philly
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Cook up a mouthwatering cheesesteak the Rodale way

Maria Rodale, CEO of Lehigh Valley publishing house Rodale Inc., shares her healthy, organic recipe for the region's take on the classic Philly cheesesteak.

The original cheesesteak, as served in the city of brotherly love, does NOT have sauce on it. But I grew up about an hour outside of Philly, where the height of cheesesteak-ness was found at the Brass Rail, which did have sauce. One of my favorite childhood moments was when we would all pile into the station wagon, get Brass Rail to go, and then head down to the Little Lehigh Parkway for a summer picnic. In fact, a Brass Rail steak sandwich was one of the last things my mother ate before she died (I bought it for her because I knew she would eat it). The Brass Rail sauce is a notoriously secret recipe in these parts, but I have deconstructed it and figured it out. So, I will share both my cheesesteak and sauce recipes with you.

Original source: Maria's Farm Country Kitchen
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Sanofi Pasteur's new flu vaccine requires smaller, less threatening needles

The Associated Press reports that a new flu vaccine, developed by Monroe County-based Sanofi Pasteur and recently approved by the FDA, requires a smaller needle than the injections that scare many away from standard flu shots.

Flu shots generally are injected deep into muscle with a needle 1 inch to 1.5 inches long, a sight that distresses many patients.

Sanofi Pasteur's new product has a needle less than a tenth of an inch long, attached to a pre-filled syringe that holds a smaller amount of influenza vaccine than the company's standard flu shots. That's because the dermis, the skin layer just under the surface, has a high concentration of the dendritic cells that are key to generating an immune response.

Original source: Associated Press
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Study says PA's foreclosure-prevention program works better, less expensive than federal version

MarketWatch reports on a study which found Pennsylvania's Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program prevents home foreclosures more effectively and for less money than the federal Home Affordable Modification Program.

The New York Fed study says the HEMAP program can be cheaper for taxpayers and help a large number of troubled homeowners. It compares the two approaches by evaluating costs on assistance for two hypothetical mortgages valued at $210,000 at the time of unemployment. The HAMP modification program, the report argues, costs the federal government $13,600 while the HEMAP program cost Pennsylvania $1,620.

The report said the HEMAP program can be cheaper, in part, because when the homeowner finds a job again, the loan ends and he or she begins to repay it.

Alternatively, the HAMP program provides taxpayer funded assistance to bank servicers, who, in turn, modify the borrower’s current mortgage payments, and those adjustments stay in effect for five years regardless of whether the borrower returns to employment.

Original source: MarketWatch
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Free technology means food stamp recipients can buy fresh, healthy food from PA farmers markets

The state Department of Agriculture is offering 145 free wireless card readers to farmers' market vendors who want to accept food stamp benefits as payment, KYW Newsradio reports.
Mike Pechart, with the agriculture department, said more farm stand owners will now be able to accept state and federal food access cards.

“Folks can bring those benefits to farm markets, and those that have these wireless terminals and readers, they can use their SNAP cards to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” Pechart said.

And farmers also will be able to take credit and debit cards, though those transactions will be charged the standard bank fee.
Original source: KYW Newsradio
Read the full story here.


Younger doctors increasingly seek less time at work, more time for personal life

In an article focusing on a medical resident at an Allentown hospital, The New York Times reports that more young physicians are taking jobs offering fewer hours on the job but higher quality of life.

Like Dr. Dewar, many other young doctors are taking salaried jobs, working fewer hours, often going part time and even choosing specialties based on family reasons. The beepers and cellphones that once leashed doctors to their patients and practices on nights, weekends and holidays are being abandoned. Metaphorically, medicine has gone from being an individual to a team sport.

For doctors, the changes mean more control of their personal lives but less of their professional ones; for patients, care that is less personal but, as studies have shown, more proficient.

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

Lehigh Valley team's TV fishing comedy picked up by national cable channel

WFMZ reports on a TV show called Foul Hook'd, made in the Lehigh Valley and recently picked up for national distribution by The Sportsman Channel.

"It was like three years ago, we had an idea for a fishing show that would air on a fishing network but it was more of a comedy," said show creator Tom Caamano.

The show has already been picked up by the Sportsman Channel.

"I was blown away to be honest with you. I mean this is a childhood dream of mine especially to be able to do it here in my own hometown is more special," said actor Jeff Hartney.

Original source: WFMZ
Read the full story here.

Self-serve wine kiosks coming to Walmart stores in PA

The Associated Press reports that 24 Walmart stores in Pennsylvania will be home to the vending machine-style wine kiosks that have been making their way into grocery stores throughout the state.

The kiosks are located at certain Wegmans, Fresh Grocer, Brown's Family ShopRite, Giant Eagle, Supervalu, Genuardi's, Acme, Giant Food, and other stores. The Liquor Control Board is working on getting about 100 such kiosks installed around the state, and (spokeswoman Stacey) Witalec said it's possible the project may be expanded beyond that.

Original source: The Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Exports from PA businesses up 22 percent, federal data show

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Pennsylvania companies' exports increased 22 percent in 2010, a drastic improvement from an 18 percent drop in 2009.
Pennsylvania, which ranked 11th in the nation in terms of total state exports last year, had a greater percentage increase than the nation as a whole, which experienced a 16.6 percent increase after falling 14.6 percent during the recession in 2009.

Canada remained the No. 1 buyer of Pennsylvania exports at $10.2 billion, up 14.6 percent from $8.9 billion in 2009. China bought $2.67 billion worth of goods from businesses in the state, a 78 percent increase from $1.5 billion in 2009.

The chemical industry topped all industries in the state with $10.2 billion worth of exports, up 14 percent from 2009. Machinery, primary metal manufacturing, computers and electronic products, and transportation equipment rounded out the top five.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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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
Read the full story here.



IPO expected for Lehigh Valley optical laser firm after major foreign VC investment

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that an initial public offering could be coming for CyOptics, a Lehigh Valley company that makes telecommunications technology.

Jerusalem Venture Partners, an Israeli venture capital fund, said it is discussing an initial public offering of CyOptics Inc. with investment banks after increasing its stake in the U.S.-based optical laser company.

“We see this company as becoming very significant, going public on the Nasdaq, raising money independently and buying other companies,” JVP managing partner and founder Erel Margalit said in a telephone interview today.

Original source: Bloomberg Businessweek
Read the full story here.

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
Read the full story here.

Programmable medication organizer, developed in Lehigh Valley, approved by FDA for sale

A high-tech pill dispenser that prompts patients to take their medications at the right time and was developed by a Lehigh Valley cancer specialist and Lehigh University students, is now federally approved for sale, Bethlehem Patch reports.

"Dispense-A-Pill," a device designed to dispense and manage as many as 16 medicines, including inhalers and eye drops, at the proper time each day, received "class-1" registration for marketing from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November.

Original source: Bethlehem Patch
Read the full story here.

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
Read the full story here.

White House Christmas tree comes from Lehighton

A horse-drawn wagon delivered a Douglas fir from Lehighton's Crystal Spring Tree Farm to the White House the day after Thanksgiving, according to Reuters.
The tree will be set up in the White House Blue Room to be decorated by floral department staff and volunteers, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, which has been presenting a tree for the Blue Room annually since 1966.
Original source: Reuters
Read the full story here.


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
Read the full story here.


Precious 9/11 steel held dear in East Greenville

FoxNews reports on a 15-foot long, 6,000-pound piece of steel that survived the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and now awaits memorializing in the parking lot of the East Greenville American Legion.

Nine years after the buildings were destroyed, this steel will be the centerpiece of a local 9/11 memorial. Local residents are coming together to donate time and materials to build the memorial. Sean and John Kreuz are thrilled to donate what they say is a one thousand dollar job - providing a concrete cover for the walkway and other parts of the memorial.

Sean explains his motivation. "For 3000 people who just went to work one day--they just went to work and they ended up never coming home. This is our little piece of what we can do so that my kids can say we won’t forget what happened."

Original source: FoxNews
Read the full story here.


Mack opens Allentown customer center to showcase trucks, history

Mack Trucks Inc. opened its state-of-the-art, 159,000-square foot Mack Customer Center this week in Allentown, reports Trucking Info.

Created inside the company's former engineering development and test center, the facility includes a product showroom, an 18,000-square-foot modification center and a two-lane, .73 mile oval track, allowing customers to put their vehicles to the test. The track has multiple grades, on- and off-road durability courses and a skid pad.

Inside, customers can relax, meet and work in a comfortable reception area or at the "Bulldog Cafe" and test-drive trucks on an oval track behind the building. The center will open to the public on November 1.

"The Allentown-Lehigh Valley region is where we continue to bring customers for the true Mack brand experience," (says Mack VP of Marketing Mike) Reardon said. "They can visit our Macungie Assembly Operations, where all Mack trucks are now built, and see the quality, care and pride that goes into every truck we build."

Original source: Trucking Info
Read the full story here.


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
Read the full story here.


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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Air Products exec calls bid for Airgas 'attractive'

Bloomberg brings us up to date on the ongoing attempt of Allentown-based Air Products to acquire in-state rival Airgas of Radnor.

Air Products is the second-biggest U.S. industrial-gases producer behind Praxair Inc. Air Products wants to purchase Airgas to reacquire a "packaged-gas" business the company sold to its rival in 2002, (Air Products CFO Paul) Huck testified.

Air Products has raised its bid twice from the original $60 a share, and “$65.50 is not our best and final offer,” Huck said. The company has a ‘reserve price” it will pay, which is being kept confidential, Huck said.

Original source: Bloomberg
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Warburg Pincus to buy $150M stake in National Penn Bancshares

National Penn Bancshares got a $150 million boost from Warburg Pincus on Tuesday, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The private-equity firm has been looking to make investments in struggling banks amid hopes to benefit from potential rebounds.

National Penn President and Chief Executive Scott V. Fainor said the move will help the 127-branch Pennsylvania bank speed its ability to repay the $150 million of aid it received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Original source: Wall Street Journal
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A mingling of leaf-peeping and time travel

The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway is among those tourist railroads in the Northeast and New England that are increasingly busy thanks to awesome fall foliage, reports the New York Times.

Some lines tie into autumn’s splendor with pumpkin patches at stops along the way, offering cider and cookies to everyone, and pumpkins to the youngest riders. Others coordinate trains with local foliage festivals, like the Lehigh Gorge line in Jim Thorpe, Pa., which offers special two-and-a-half-hour Hometown High Bridge excursions on weekends in October.

“We were turning hundreds of people away a day,” so more trains were added last year, said Laura Kennedy, the director of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.

Original source: New York Times
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Development officials aim to boost PA economy through technology

From the Philadelphia Navy Yard to the Innovation Center of Wilkes-Barre, federal money is helping technology development improve regional economies in Pennsyvlania, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

(Brian) McGowan, who is chief operating officer of the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, was in Pittsburgh for the annual conference of the State Science & Technology Institute, a group representing state economic development officials.

The Economic Development Administration on Tuesday gave the institute a $480,000 grant to copy successful regional economic development programs in other regions of the country. Mr. McGowan cited Pennsylvania's Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority as an example of a program that would help promote job growth in other regions.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Ben Franklin Technology Partners announces new investments

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania announced investments in six companies totaling more than $480,000, reports the Morning Call.

HealthOneMed, Inc., Allentown, Lehigh County: $50,000 to complete a marketing plan for an automated pill dispensing system for patients that includes audible notification that it is time to take pills and telephone notification to caregivers when a pill is not taken on schedule.

Original source: Morning Call
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Keystone Edge parent company IMG among Inc. 5000's fastest growing media outfits

Boasting three-year growth of 170 percent, the Michigan-based parent company of Keystone Edge, Issue Media Group, was ranked No. 22 in the media category and No. 1672 overall in the recently released Inc. 5000 list of the nation's fastest-growing companies.

Issue Media Group develops web magazines about local communities that report on development, creative people and businesses, vibrant neighborhoods, and popular places to live, eat, shop, work, and play.

Original source: Inc.
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Clean Technology Resource Center established for PA small businesses

A Clean Technology Resource Center will provide business management assistance for small businesses throughout Pennsylvania who are developing new clean energy technology or use renewable energy sources, reports NorthCentralPA.com.

Services include evaluating market opportunities, developing business plans, sourcing material and securing financing, including funds available through Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

"Demand for clean technology is driving the growth of an emerging global industry sector," Christian Conroy, State Director of the Pennsylvania SBDC, said. "The Clean Technology Resource Center underscores the SBDC's commitment to help small firms compete by harnessing the enormous potential of technologies that will position Pennsylvania as a leader in technology development."

Original source: NorthCentralPa.com

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PA to receive $1 billion in Medicaid and education funding

As part of a $26 billion effort President Obama recently approved, Pennsylvania will receive $668 million to help pay for Medicaid and $387.8 million to save K-12 education jobs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The federal education jobs money is expected to save about 161,000 education jobs nationwide, including about 5,900 in Pennsylvania. The money is designated for only compensation of teachers and other staff at the school level, not central administrator pay, facilities or other expenses. States will have to show that they are maintaining their effort to fund education to qualify for the money.

Original Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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St. Mary's brewery works not to can bottling tradition

The 138 year-old, family-owned Straub Brewery needs customers to return thousands of empty cases so it can continue to sell 12- and 16-ounce returnable bottles, reports the Associated Press.

"It's not that we're totally into 'green,' but we think it's the right thing to do," said Dan Straub, great-grandson of company founder Peter Straub and the brewery's semiretired vice president. "Our philosophy is, 'Why recycle when you can reuse?'"

One other brewer--the nation's oldest, D.G. Yuengling & Son of Pottsville--still sells and gathers returnables. But it expects to phase them out by summer's end, leaving Straub as what experts believe is the last holdout in the U.S.

Original source: Associated Press
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Many PA colleges post high in U.S. News rankings

Claiming the No. 5 spot overall, the University of Pennsylvania led a host of colleges from across the state that ranked high on the annual rankings from U.S. News and World Report, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Swarthmore is again No. 3 among liberal-arts colleges, behind Williams and Amherst, while Haverford tied for No. 9, according to the report, released Tuesday. Villanova was again No. 1 in the Northeast among "regional universities," defined as having "a full range of undergrad programs and some master's programs, but few doctoral programs."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Pittsburgh educational nonprofit lands $22M grant for STEM

The Pittsburgh science education non-profit ASSET Inc. will receive $22.3 million in federal funding to improve STEM education statewide, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The South Side-based nonprofit is one of two Pennsylvania education organizations--including Children's Learning Initiative of Philadelphia--that were awarded the federal government's highly competitive Investing in Innovation Fund, or i3, grants to build upon programs that have shown evidence of success in education achievement, officials said.

The i3 fund, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program, was developed to support local efforts to start or expand innovative, research-based programs with demonstrated success in helping close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for high-need students, officials said.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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PA grocery store wine kiosk tests said to go well

Pennsylvania officials say testing of wine vending kiosks has exceeded expectations and almost 100 more machines would be approved soon, reports Business Week.

The main issues that have arisen are a need to improve a door seal and figure out how to deal with power surges and outages from passing thunderstorms, he said.

The test period has suggested that kiosks located well inside stores will produce better sales, but for practical reasons some supermarkets will have to put them at entrances, he said.

Original source: Associated Press
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Central PA transit authorities study routes, fare systems to connect remote counties

Central Pa. transit authorities are looking to encourage more citizens to take the bus as they look for ways to make bus travel simpler through technology, from changing the fare system to adding additional routes, WFMZ reports.
The ultimate goal is a system of stops and connections spanning from Berks to Franklin County in central Pennsylvania.

The study, which is funded by a state grant, will examine technology that would make fares universal from bus system to bus system. It will also determine how much regionalization would cost and look at ways to pay for it.
Original Source: WFMZ
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Participating wineries now top 60 for the great PA wine toast

More than five dozen Pennsylvania wineries are on board for the state winery association's attempt at breaking a Guinness Book of World Records mark for largest toast/tasting, reports the Patriot-News.

Given the record, the toast has about as much chance of breaking the record as the Pittsburgh Pirates (or Phillies, at the rate they're going) have making the playoffs this year. But, frankly, no one will remember whether the record is set. The pubicity generated figures to spread nationally, and that's truly the mark by which this endeavor will be judged.
 
Association spokeswoman Jennifer Eckinger said Monday that wineries will be telling visitors to report by 3:30 that afternoon, and that the toast itself likely will take place at 4:15. Andretti will tape the reading of the winning toast; you can vote for your favorite among the five finalists here.

Original source: Patriot-News
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Pennsylvania awards $18m for 24MW of solar projects

Pennsylvania's solar energy program awarded $18 million that will support 37 projects, installing 24 megawatts of generating capacity statewide, reports BrighterEnergy.
The funded solar projects are forecast to generate at least 26,600 megawatt-hours of electricity each year--enough for around 2,700 Pennsylvania homes.
The systems are expected to save $5.2 million a year in energy costs over the next 20 years.
Among the projects awarded funding, an $8.6 million solar photovoltaic array planned for a senior housing community in East Whiteland will receive a $2.7 million grant. The 1.8MW ground-mounted facility will generate 2.3 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year, saving $286,000 in energy costs each year.
Original source: Brighter Energy
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Higher Ed leaders consider "course sharing" at state universities

Language and Physics are considered as possible 'share courses' that students of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institutions could take online from other universities besides their own, reports the Associated Press.

A report to be presented to the faculty union Monday in Harrisburg is expected to include recommendations for "shared programs" in foreign languages and physics, according to officials such as Karen Ball, vice chancellor for external relations for the State System of Higher Education.


Officials said the pilot programs could use software that enables distance learning. The proposal stems from a review of undergraduate and graduate programs that have low enrollments on individual campuses.

Original Source: The Associated Press

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More PA Jobs will require Higher Education, study shows

A new study shows that PA is going to see a jump in employment but that an increasing number of jobs will require secondary education, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Between 2008 and 2018, employment is expected to increase by 15.3 million, according to projections by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Coming after a recession that destroyed 8 million jobs, that sounds encouraging.


But a different forecast being released Tuesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that there is a growing disconnect between the types of jobs that employers must fill and the number of Americans with the education and training to do them.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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Lehigh Valley plans for government greening

The Lehigh Valley unveiled plans this week for an administration building complete with rooftop gardens and solar panels. The effort would be the greenest municipal project in Lehigh Valley history, reports the Morning Call.
Supervisors got their first glimpse of the multimillion-dollar plans during a special meeting Tuesday with their architectural firm Kimmel Bogrette of Conshohocken, Montgomery County. Government offices would be housed in a 13,000-square-foot building with a garden rooftop. A breezeway would link it to a 7,000-square-foot public works building with a bank of solar panels on its roof.

The township hopes to break ground on the complex, which is expected to cost between $3.5 and $4.6 million, later this year. Once the project is completed, the existing structure would be razed.
Original Source: Morning Call
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Google releases economic impact report, claims over $1B in PA

Google released its economic impact report this week and claims to have produced $1 billion in economic impact for Pennsylvania.
The search engine giant generated the figures in the report by examining the number of businesses, website publishers and nonprofits using its search and advertising tools.

Bob Casey joins group fighting for Venture Capital tax exemption

Five senators, including PA's Bob Casey, are fighting to make venture capital firms exempt from investment manager taxes, Bloomberg reports.

Brown, along with Democratic Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Mark Warner of Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, said subjecting venture firms to higher tax rates on so-called carried interest would hurt job creation and “could not occur at a worse time.”


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is considering adding the proposed higher tax rate on carried interest to broader legislation. Carried interest is the profit share paid to managing partners of firms as part of their pay. That share, which lawmakers say is payment for services, currently can qualify for long-term capital gains rates of 15 percent.

Original Source: Bloomberg News

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Report shows Lehigh Valley economy is on the rise

The Lehigh Valley Purchasing Managers Survey, released this week, shows several signs of recovery for the region's economy, the Morning call reports.
The Lehigh Valley economy is on the road to recovery, with more companies hiring people than shedding workers for the first time since July 2008.

The news doesn't mean unemployed workers will suddenly find a vast number of jobs to choose from. But it does reverse the troubling trend of their ranks swelling while opportunities shrank. And for those working who feared they could be laid off, such a trend, in general, makes that less likely.
Original Source: Morning Call
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Kitchen Magic bringing jobs with move to Valley

Kitchen Magic, a kitchen remodel company that employs 125 local workers, is relocating from the just across the state line in the Phillipsburg, N.J. area to Nazareth, where it will add another 64 jobs at its new Lehigh Valley site in the next few years, according to the Morning Call.
When it outgrew its digs on Route 22 in Lopatcong Township, N.J., the company sought help in relocating. That help came from the state and locally from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Kitchen Magic's manufacturing shop and showroom are now operating in a former garment-sewing factory at 4243 Lonat Drive, near the intersection of Routes 22 and 191 in Lower Nazareth Township.
"The state of Pennsylvania was instrumental in being very business-friendly and rolling out the welcome mat for us," said Brett Bacho, president of the company. "It's worked out really well."
Original Source: Morning Call
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Biotech and Life Sciences still job growth king in PA

A report, released this week during the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual convention in Chicago, states that PA biotech and life sciences industries rank among the largest in the nation, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.
The Battelle/BIO State BioScience Initiatives report found Pennsylvania ranked third in biosciences-related jobs with 40,070 in 2008, while New Jersey was eighth with 22,540.

“Not every biotech company made it through the storm,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO, an industry trade group based in Washington. “Fifty publicly traded companies went bankrupt for lack of access to capital. But there is much good news. Biotech stocks outperformed virtually every other index in the first quarter of this year. The markets have come back, but biotech has come back faster and stronger.”


Way To Work Program to provide 20,000 jobs

A new subsidized employment program is expected to provide jobs for about 20,000 people this summer, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The Pennsylvania Way to Work program is expected to use federal emergency funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to pay for the jobs through September for adults as well as youths, according to an announcement today by the State Departments of Labor and of Public Welfare.

Pennsylvania's local Workforce Investment Boards are already reaching out to employers to determine the number of jobs that will be available when the program begins, the state said.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full article here.

Pennsylvania ranked among the highest job increases in the nation

In the month of March, PA recorded some of the highest employment increases in the nation, adding over 20,000 jobs, the Associated Press reports.
In its monthly look at state job trends, the Labor Department said Friday that Maryland led the country with a gain of 35,800 payroll jobs last month. Virginia and Pennsylvania also posted increases that topped 20,000 in the month.
By contrast, Michigan continued to have the nation's highest unemployment rate at 14.1 percent, and also led the country in job losses in March with a decline of 9,500. Nevada and Florida also posted sizable job losses and were among 17 states recording job losses during the month.
Nationally, the unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7 percent in March while payrolls grew by 162,000, the biggest gain in three years.
Original Source: The Associated Press
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BioAdavnce offers workshops for life sciences startups

BioAdvance, which operates the Biotechnology Greenhouse of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the University City Science Center have announced they are accepting applications for a workshop focused on helping life science entrepreneurs, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The free program is called “Entrepreneur OnRamp.” It will feature a full day of panel discussions, coaching and networking for up to 30 individuals or “very early stage human-health focused” startup companies from Greater Philadelphia. The program will be held May 27 at the Science Center in West Philadelphia.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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World's unusual treehouses take root in PA

Pennsylvania is home to some of the world's most unusual and well-built treehouses, reports Forbes.

In Seattle über-carpenter (Peter) Nelson has been advancing arboreal design for a decade with popular coffee-table books like 2009's New Treehouses of the World (Abrams) and as a chief branch swinger at TreeHouse Workshop. In addition to the Ramona marvel (which, sadly, was destroyed during 2008's San Diego wildfires), Nelson and his team built a sprawling tree cathedral in the style of a Norwegian stave church at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.

Original source: Forbes
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Zep Inc. to dedicate Lehigh Valley operation, pledges to create 100 jobs within three years

Zep Inc., a specialty chemicals company based in Atlanta, will dedicate its new 100,000 square foot facility in Upper Macungie Township this week, reports the Express-Times.

Joe O’Brien, president of Zep East, said the company already employs 60 and plans to expand with the introduction of local manufacturing. The jobs commitment helped secure $300,000 in state-funded tax credits.

The credits are part of more than $2.7 million in state support for the $9.2 million project, said Luke Webber, a spokesman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Original source: Express-Times
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Undergraduates break tradition, leap ahead with research

Science research by undergraduates is growing in Pennsylvania as elsewhere, according to the National Council on Undergraduate Research, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 
The learning pendulum has swung so far that many undergraduates and professors view substantive research before earning a bachelor's degree as essential to advancing career goals. Such research includes work published in scholarly journals; work that is part of a project led by a scientist, professor or graduate student; or work paid for by a grant.

Since 2004, the number of member institutions in the nonprofit Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington grew to about 600 from 385, said Nancy Hensel, executive officer. Today, about 5,000 individuals are members. Both totals are all-time highs. In 2007, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education became the first system to join the council.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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PA ranks No. 1 in starting, completing transportation projects

When it comes to starting and completing transportation projects funded by federal stimulus money, no large state does it faster than Pennsylvania, reports the Patriot-News.

That’s the verdict reached by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The panel evaluated how states have managed the stimulus money allocated for road and bridge projects.

The state has completed 92 out of 326 stimulus-funded projects to date, worth $125 million. In the midstate, 17 out of 29 planned projects have been completed or are “essentially complete,” meaning work motorists would see and encounter is finished.

Original source: Patriot-News

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Are more people searching ‘Lehigh Valley’ on Google?

Nearly two decades of strategic branding of the region that comprises the three distinct cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton seem to have paid off according to recent online search results, reports the Morning Call.

The number of people visiting the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Web site by Googling the term "Lehigh Valley" jumped 14 percent in the organization’s most recent fiscal year, which ended in July, said the group’s president, Mike Stershic.

"It really is because the Lehigh Valley has become recognized as a region and people are using it as a search term," Stershic said.

Original source: Morning Call
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Developer wants to double size of Carbon solar park

Green Energy Capital Partners is looking to expand its plans to build a $120 million solar-energy park in Carbon County, making it the largest solar park east of the Mississippi, reports the Morning Call.

Green Energy announced the Nesquehoning project in August 2008 and initially leased 134 acres for Solar Park I from firetruck maker Kovatch Enterprises, which operates an adjacent industrial complex. That park was to generate power for 1,450 homes.

Months later, Green Energy signed a deal with Kovatch for a 120-acre reclaimed waste coal pile where Solar Park II would go. The combined 20-megawatt plant would have more than 100,000 solar panels. Groundbreaking is set for July and the first park could open in May of next year.

Original source: Morning Call
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Bethlehem's SteelStacks hiring people with passion for 100 jobs

SteelStacks, an arts center being developed near Bethlehem new casino, will hire 100 people before its opening in 2011, reports Nicole Radzievich of the Allentown Morning Call.

ArtsQuest, a nonprofit, runs Christkindlmarkt, the Banana Factory and Musikfest-- a 10-day festival that depends a great deal on its volunteers -- and is developing the 65,000-square-foot ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, which is scheduled to open in May 2011. PBS-39, WLVT-TV is developing a broadcast center there as well.

ArtsQuest expects to fill 30-35 positions during the next 14 months, which would double the size of its staff, spokeswoman Kassie Hilgert said. The balance of the 100 new positions will be with the group that will provide food service at the center. ArtsQuest also estimates providing 168 jobs during construction.
Original source: Morning Call
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State to invest $9.2M to support alternative energy projects that create jobs

Governor Ed Rendell announced close to $10 million in investments in alternative energy that will help create about 170 jobs, reports Gant Daily.
The $9.2 million in grants and loans the Commonwealth Financing Authority approved today, he added, will benefit seven projects throughout the state that are showing how alternative energy can conserve resources and cut expenses--two aspects that are critical to Pennsylvania’s long-term economic competitiveness.
The Commonwealth Financing Authority administers Pennsylvania's economic stimulus programs, including portions of the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund.

Original source: Gant Daily
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Agency continues push to bring new companies to the Lehigh Valley

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. is optimistic in its abilities to grow existing companies in the region and recruit new companies there, reports the Morning Call.

The agency brought 13 new employers to the region in 2009--10 distribution centers and three manufacturers--retaining or creating a total of 1,300 jobs, and it continued to work with banks and the Small Business Administration to provide $26 million in hard-to-come-by financing to 21 companies, saving or creating another 2,200 jobs.

Original source: Morning Call
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Money for new NCC-Monroe campus OK'd in table games bill

The state’s new table games bill means a new campus for Northampton Community College in Monroe County, reports the Pocono Record.

The money for the college would not come from the proceeds from the new table games. Instead, it would tap the revenues from the slot machines now in use in the state's casinos. It would not invade the share already dedicated to property tax relief.

The $78 million project would be built on 71 acres in the geographic heart of the county. The 200,000-square-foot facility will replace NCC's current site nearby, which the college will retain for non-credit courses.

Original source: Pocono Record

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Need a job? Casinos may hire up to 1,500 more

Table games are coming to PA casinos in the next nine months, meaning as much as 1,500 new casino-related jobs will be up for grabs, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bob Griffin, president and CEO of MTR Gaming Group Inc., which owns Presque Isle, said the casino plans to hire 400 to 500 more employees to staff 46 to 50 table games and provide support. Mr. Griffin said the number of new hires would have been higher had the state's one-time $16.5 million licensing fee for table games been lower.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Read the full story here.


Obama tells PA residents job help is coming

President Obama was in the Lehigh Valley on Friday to talk about plans for economic help on the horizon for the region, reports The Washington Times.

Though the global economy has shifted largely from manufacturing to information technology, Mr. Obama said, Pennsylvania towns can still create new jobs by redeveloping their infrastructure to meet new demands and by pursuing jobs related to "green" technology.


The president also told the hundreds who assembled at Lehigh Carbon Community College that on Tuesday he will present Congress with a detailed plan on how to "jump start" hiring in the private sector.

Original source: The Washington Times
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here.


Tech firms get intro to Boeing Technology Alliance

Pennsylvania tech firms will get an introduction to one of the world’s largest manufacturers through a new effort sponsored by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, reports the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal.

Ben Franklin's membership in the alliance does not mean companies will have direct access to Boeing but they will have an opportunity to work with the company after a vetting process, said Terry Singer, Ben Franklin's director of statewide affairs. "It's an incredible opportunity," he said. It could take up to three years after Ben Franklin identifies a tech company from its portfolio until Boeing adopts the company's technology, Singer said.

Ben Franklin is a statewide group that supports technology companies through capital investments and operational assistance using state money, partnerships and access to business expertise. Since 1982, it has helped 1,139 companies and created or retained 3,334 technology jobs, according to the group.
Read the full story here.
Original source: Central Pennsylvania Business Journal

PA responsible for three percent of all VC-created jobs, 6th in nation

According to a report by the National Venture Capital Association, Pennsylvania ranks sixth in the nation in percentage of jobs created through private equity investment, reports the blog Technically Philly.

The state is responsible for 3.36 percent of all VC-based job postings, despite only being responsible for 1.13 percent of the deals in Q3. Ahead of Pennsylvania were California (38.98 percent), Massachusetts (7.9 percent), New York (7 percent), Texas (6 percent) and Washington State (3.7percent).

Original source: Technically Philly
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here.


New device gives doctors at Lehigh Valley Health Network a hand with patient information

The Lehigh Valley Health Network is using biometric technology to manage its health records, allowing the system to streamline hospital check-in and combat medical identity theft, reports the Morning Call.

Patients would first have to be enrolled in the network program and have their palm scanned before they could be identified in an emergency room. About 1,500 patients have already enrolled as part of the pilot program that just wrapped up in several LVHN diagnostic-care centers, a doctor's office and a hospital emergency room.

Original source: Morning Call
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here.


PA food distribution center will create 200-plus jobs

State investments helped facilitate Kehe Food Distributors' opening of a new 300,000 square foot center in Allentown that will create at least 210 jobs within three years, reports Regrigerated Transporter.

Supply chain management company OHL worked with Kehe Food Distributors, a US distributor of natural and specialty food products, to open the new 300,000-square-foot center. The $6.2 million facility, which Kehe Foods will use to serve food retailers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, is operating and is fully staffed, but the project will create at least 210 jobs within three years.

Original source: Refrigerated Transporter
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here.


 


Ben Franklin group gets $6M federal grant

U.S. Department of Commerce secretary Gary Locke announced a $6 million grant to help Ben Franklin Technology Partners expand, reports the Morning Call.

The state-funded Ben Franklin group helps new businesses get started by providing office and lab space and technical support. It is planning to more than double the size of its TechVentures facility at Lehigh University in Bethlehem with a $17 million project.

The project includes a new parking deck that is under construction and a 47,000-square-foot addition that will create more space for new companies. Ben Franklin is still seeking $6 million needed to complete the project by the end of 2010. The four-story addition would connect to an old Bethlehem Steel lab, which Ben Franklin Technology renovated in 2007.

Original source: Morning Call
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Promoting local wine with Libation Vacations

The Pennsylvania Winery Association and the Pennsylvania Office of Tourism have joined forces to promote an outreach program called Libation Vacation, reports The Mercury.

The state tourism office provided a $75,000, multi-year grant, in part to coax more than 40 bloggers — carefully chosen for their knowledge about food, wine and travel — to blog about Pennsylvania's 11 wine trails, of which the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, comprised of almost a dozen local wineries, is one.

The avowed purpose of the blogging promotion is to "reach out to the online community utilizing social media tools and get greater recognition for our wine trails," said Jennifer Eckinger, executive vice president for the Pennsylvania Winery Association.

Original source: The Mercury
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Here's the 411 on the 511 hotline

PennDOT's 511PA phone highway information system started last week, reports the Morning Call.

The program they're calling 511PA provides free, 24-hour traveler information, offering real-time warnings of traffic jams resulting from accidents, road work or other causes, as well as alerts about snow, ice and other weather conditions that might threaten a pleasant journey.


A companion Web site, http://www.511PA.com , offers the same information, plus links to other sites with public-transit, car-pooling and route-planning information, even details about major tourism programs or destinations.

Original source: Morning Call
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here.


Wine industry in state uncorks growth, taste

Pennsylvania wineries are on pace to serve a record one million customers this year, reports the Patriot-News.

The interest is fueled by consumers curious about locally grown produce, said Jennifer Eckinger, executive director of the Pennsylvania Winery Association, a Harrisburg-based trade group for the industry.

People view wineries as fun places to visit, with concerts, festivals and other special events throughout the year, Eckinger said.

Original source: Patriot-News
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Stimulus money created 2,000 highway jobs

Stimulus-funded highway and bridge projects have employed nearly 2,000 Pennsylvanians, and more jobs are likely on the way to work on upcoming projects go out for bid by Labor Day, reports the Patriot-News.

James P. Creedon, the state's chief implementation officer for the stimulus money -- known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- said that $7 billion of Pennsylvania's share is flowing to state residents in a variety of ways.

Most of the road projects have come in at 10 percent under budget, Creedon said. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to send the money saved back to the areas of the state where the savings were generated to pay for more projects.  

Original source: Patriot-News
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Easton to get $1 million for 'green' fix-ups

One of Easton's most challenged neighborhoods is getting $1 million to rehabilitate houses through eco-friendly methods that reduce energy bills, reports the Express-Times.
''We need to fix up our houses in the West Ward,'' Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said at a news conference at the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership on Northampton Street. ''But we also need to fix them up in the right way, historically and environmentally.''
The $1 million is slated to come from nearly $500,000 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds, which help communities suffering from foreclosures, and $500,000 in expected funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Original source; Morning Call
Read the full story here.


A fuel-belching NASCAR track has big plans for solar power

Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, which hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pennsylvania 500 last weekend, plans to construct the world's largest solar energy project at a sports facility.

About 40,000 photovoltaic panels are to be installed on 25 acres across the street from the racetrack on property that had been used as a parking lot for races. The solar farm is expected to generate three megawatts once it is completed, in spring 2010, making it Pennsylvania’s largest such facility, Igdalsky said. The project is expected to cost $15 million to $17 million but more than pay for itself over time.


A number of prominent sports sites use solar energy, including Taiwan’s National Stadium, which recently hosted the World Games; AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants; Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians; and the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf in Bern, Switzerland.

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


KOZ sites may bring new jobs

Tax incentives for a pair of Monroe County commercial areas, totaling 340 acres and approved as a Keystone Opportunity Zone, could lead to new jobs and investment from the private sector, reports the Pocono Record.

The approved properties include 128 acres of county-owned land in Pocono Mountains Corporate Centers East and South and 212 acres at New Ventures Commercial Park in Blakeslee.


A KOZ is a designated commercial area where specific state and local taxes are eliminated to encourage business investment and job creation. Those taxes include real estate, earned income, corporate net income, and sales and use taxes, among others.

Original source: Pocono Record
Read the full story
here.


Nesquehoning solar plant gets $5.5M state grant


Developers of a 10.6-megawatt solar energy plant near Nesquehoning, Carbon County, received a $5.5 million state grant last week, reports the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

The ground-mounted facility in the Green Acres Industrial Park will be the largest solar energy plant in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the nation when the $78 million project is completed.


"Our solar park is going to be a state-of-the-art facility that will generate clean power, create jobs and serve as a training center for high-tech, high-wage energy jobs all over the region," said state Rep. Keith McCall, D-122, who presented the grant.


"The park is going to be up and running in a few months, and this grant funding will help defray the cost of construction."

Original Source: Hazleton Standard-Speaker

Read the full story here.


Arts Walk vision is realized in Allentown

Local government officials cut the ribbon last week to open Arts Walk, the final phase of a lengthy development of Allentown's downtown arts district, reports the Morning Call.

Construction on the brick-paved walkway, which connects Symphony Hall, the Baum School of Art, the Allentown Art Museum and the Allentown Arts Park between Hamilton and Linden streets, was finished several months ago.


''The arts are critical to a healthy city, and the Arts Walk brings a new focus to connect our downtown commercial district to our arts treasures,'' Pawlowski said.

Original Source: Morning Call

Read the full story here.


Bill would allow PA students to transfer more credits from community colleges

A bill that would expand options for transfer students from community colleges has been proposed in state legislature, reports the Public Opinion.

Current state regulations require all 14 state-owned colleges and universities in the State System of Higher Education to accept 30 transfer credits from Pennsylvania community colleges.


A proposal by Rep. Tom Houghton, D-Chester, would double that limit to 60 credits, so students could transfer a full associate's degree course load to the four-year school as though they took the courses there.


"We're fully supportive of the bill," Kenn Marshall, SSHE spokesman, said. State System representatives helped Houghton draw up the bill, he said, and he expects it to pass without much opposition.

Original Source: Public Opinion

Read the full story here.


Get Help Now initiative begins

A national service initiative, called Get Help Now and organized in Pennsylvania by Governor Ed Rendell, includes 22 sites statewide where consumers can get free legal and financial help, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Staffing the help desks will be attorneys, financial analysts, and banking and mortgage professionals, all equipped with resource manuals for referral services, Marjorie Rendell said.


Organizers expect to recruit 2,000 volunteers statewide by the end of the summer program Sept. 11, a spokesman for the governor’s office said. The volunteers will not provide legal advice.

Original Souce: Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.


 


PA seeks stimulus funds for storage tanks

Pennsylvania is seeking federal stimulus funds to plug leaks in underground storage tanks, an issue that costs the state up to $2 million a year, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The state is applying for $6.1 million to clean up 71 underground petroleum storage tanks in 40 counties that have been reported, or are suspected, to be leaking, Gov. Ed Rendell said Wednesday.


Since Pennsylvania began regulating underground storage tanks in 1989 there have been 14,700 known releases. Remediation has been completed for 11,500. The state gets money for cleanups from the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund, which is supported by a tax on gasoline sold in the state.

Original Souce: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the full story here.


 


ESU receives nearly $200,000 grant for entrepreneurship center

East Stroudsburg University has received a $191,320 grant from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to create an Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, reports the Pocono Record.

The ELC plans to collaborate with East Stroudsburg University and the community to provide start-up business services such as business plan support, networking opportunities, and referrals to the ESU Business Accelerator program.


The ELC, already in the works, is part of the university's division of Research and Economic Development, and will be in the new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship under construction at the corner of Route 447 and Brown Street in East Stroudsburg. The new building is the anchor for the new ESU Research and Business Park that is anticipated to open in the spring of 2010.

Original Souce: Pocono Record
Read the full story
here.

 


Sanofi to donate 100 million doses of swine flu vaccine to WHO

Sanofi-Aventis, the French drug-maker with a plant in Swiftwater, Montore County, plans to donate 100 million doses of swine flu and bird flu vaccine to the World Health Organization for use in poor countries, reports the Pocono Record.

Sanofi also plans to sell additional quantities of pandemic flu vaccines at a discounted price to developing countries, as production capacity allows. Rival drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC of Britain also has said it will do that, and has offered to donate 50 million doses of vaccine against swine flu to the WHO for distribution in developing countries.


Sanofi-Aventis, through its Sanofi Pasteur division based in Swiftwater, is the world's biggest vaccine maker. The company has two vaccine manufacturing plants there and one in Val de Reuil, France.

Original Souce: Pocono Record
Read the full story
here.


Study says table games at casinos would create jobs, revenue for PA

A study says table games like blackjack and poker could create more than 10,000 jobs and generate more than $164 million in annual gaming taxes if made legal in Pennsylvania, reports the Express-Times.

Casino owners paid for the study, said Tom Andrews, press secretary for state Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene County.


DeWeese is planning to soon reintroduce a bill that would allow table games in Pennsylvania casinos.


DeWeese estimates table games in Pennsylvania would produce $200 million to $300 million in annual revenue, Andrews said.

Original Source: Express-Times
Read the full story here.


Allentown is hopeful about latest attempt to create an arts center

The head of the Allentown Arts Commission is hoping to build the city's first multidisciplinary arts center and transform the city's troubled downtown, reports the Morning Call.

That's also his vision for 808 Hamilton St., a four-story building currently only housing a variety store at street level. He'd like to build a black-box theater on the top floor, put up walls for art exhibits on the second and save the third for what the future may bring--offices, dance recitals, whatever the art community needs.


The property sits next to the Allentown Brew Works, and owner George Huang of Heights Realty in New York is committed to fostering an arts community in Allentown, he said. Several floors are only an elevator overhaul and a few air conditioning tweaks from being viable space, Skrapits believes.

Original Souce: Morning Call
Read the full story here.


Mattioli has faith in Pocono's future

Pocono Raceway, which hosted first of two annual NASCAR events last weekend, isn't changing what makes it unusual, reports the Associated Press.

The track's two races will always be 500 miles long, even as drivers and critics beg for 100 miles to be sliced off each. And those names, the Pocono 500 and Pennsylvania 500, will remain traditional and eschew corporate sponsorship.


The track is a 2.5-mile triangle and boasts the longest straightaway (3,740 feet) in the series.


And with a fourth-generation of Mattiolis in line to run the raceway, Pocono will never be for sale. Not to Bruton Smith. Not anyone.

Original Souce: Associated Press
Read the full story here.



Poll: PA employers support standard graduation exams

A poll of Pennsylvania business leaders shows strong support for the creation of statewide graduation exams to improve the skills of the state's workforce, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Commissioned by the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Business Council Education Foundation, the poll found that 80 percent of the 400 business leaders who responded support creating such exams.


More than 68 percent said they receive applications from unqualified job seekers, while 56 percent are concerned about being able to find qualified candidates for job openings.

Original Souce: Philadelphia Daily News
Read the full story
here.


Sanofi to produce swine flu vaccine in Swiftwater facility

Sanofi Pasteur's new Swiftwater production facility in the Poconos received the first of what it hopes will be a series of orders from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make swine flu vaccine, reports the Pocono Record.

The production will fall on the 100 new employees hired after the completion of the Influenza Vaccine Manufacturing Facility in Swiftwater.


The first batch could be ready in a few months. All told, the company estimates it could make 150 million doses a year. But because dosage requirements for the new vaccine haven't been determined, it's too early to predict how many doses would be available from the bulk concentrate Sanofi produces.

Original Souce: Pocono Record
Read the full story
here.


PA wants power companies to ground carbon dioxide emissions

State lawmakers among those who believe Pennsylvania's geology can store at least 100 years worth of the state's annual carbon dioxide emissions, reports the Express-Times.

Carbon capture and sequestration would take a stream of compressed carbon dioxide directly from electric utilities and pump it underground into depleted oil fields, shale formations and aquifers thousands of feet below ground. There, proponents hope, the gas will be permanently stored.


Pumping millions of pounds of pressurized gas more than 2,500 feet below ground is not easy.  Some environmental groups and power companies say carbon capture and storage is still decades away from being commercially feasible.

Original Souce: Express-Times
Read the full story here.


Brewing history is rich in PA

Beer and history are intertwined for Pennsylvania tourists with a palate for hops and adventure, reports the Winnipeg Sun.

Heading west from Philadelphia on Interstate 76 will take you to Route 222 and north into Adamstown where you'll find Stoudt's Brewery (stoudtsbeer.com).


Evolving out of a country kitchen Ed Stoudt opened in 1962, it's now a major regional microbrewery with distribution in 10 states and a brand lineup containing some amusing names: Smooth Hoperator, Scrawny Dog Stout and Old Abominable barley wine.


Stoudt's is also making a name for itself in the cuisine game. On-site it has a popular local pub and houses the top-flight Black Angus steakhouse.

Original Souce: Winnipeg Sun
Read the full story
here.


Pottsville trade and transit center project nets $15.4M, promises hundreds of jobs

Governor Ed Rendell announced $15.4 million in state and federal funds for Pottsville's high-profile bus and train station project, the Schuylkill Transportation System Union Street Intermodal Trade and Transit Center, reports the Republican & Herald.

City Administrator Thomas A. Palamar anticipates the demolition of 300 and 314 S. Centre St. this summer. Rendell said the project--which includes construction of Centre Station, a three-story, 18,000-square-foot facility that will house a bus and train station, a Pottsville police substation, the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau and commercial space--will create more than 400 construction jobs. But Palamar was not sure how many permanent jobs the intermodal center would create.


The intermodal center will serve the Schuylkill Transportation System, currently in Saint Clair, as well as Capitol Trailways and Greyhound bus companies. About 50 STS buses will drive through the new terminal's Centre Street driveway each day, while 10 Trailways and Greyhound buses will stop at its Union Street driveway daily, according to Michael M. Micko, STS vice president for public transportation services.

Original Souce: Republican & Herald
Read the full story
here.


Yuengling hops near head of sales among US brewers

Pottsville-based D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc., the country's oldest brewery, is closing in on annual sales of 2 million barrels and about to eclipse Boston Beer Co. as the largest American-owned brewer, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

A big reason is that foreign-based companies have acquired such beer behemoths as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. Another is the coal region beer's rapid growth. That said, Yuengling is still dwarfed by Anheuser-Busch, which rolls out 100 million barrels a year nationally, Gatza said.


Privately held Yuengling, which employs 225, does not release income or earning reports.


Still, Yuengling's sales growth is remarkable considering its beer is available in just a dozen states, mostly along the East Coast. And its sales, stale for decades, began bubbling up from less than 100,000 barrels a year as recently as 1985, when Dick Yuengling Jr. bought the company from his father.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.


 


Pennsylvania holding its own--ranked 17th in forecasted short-term employment growth

Pennsylvania has created an attractive business climate with $3B in investments and 100,000 jobs in last six years, reports Business Facilities magazine.

A study by Moody's Economy.com, an independent national economic research firm, says that Pennsylvania has weathered the economic downturn due to aggressive economic stimulus efforts, below average cost of living, a strong roster of leading educational institutions, and affordable housing relative to other Northeast states.


The study ranks the state 17th in its forecast for short-term employment growth (two years), which is the best ranking the sate has ever received and better then neighboring states. In addition, state exports have grown by $5.3 billion to a total of $34.4 billion since 2002, the 6th largest amount of growth in the nation, larger than New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan.

Original Souce: Business Facilities
Read the full story
here.


Environmental sleuth seeks rare Indiana bat along transmission line route in Poconos

Pennsylvania Power & Light's plan for a new transmission line places an expert on the trail of a winged mammal whose flyways the company will need to protect, the Pocono Record reports.
Chris Sanders thinks bats are cute.

"They look like tiny dogs close up."

Sanders, an environmental scientist, works with the winged mammals every day. This month, Sanders will be in the Poconos as he prepares for an environmental survey along the proposed Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line.
Read the full article here.



Easton's $2.1M riverfront project wins support from Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission

The riverfront in Easton along Larry Holmes Drive will soon become a vibrant public space thanks to unanimous approval for $2.1 million in funding from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission for the project's first phase, reports the Express-Times.

The commission, meeting in Solebury Township, unanimously agreed Monday to let the city use the $2.1 million as the sole source of funding for the project's first phase, which includes narrowing Larry Holmes Drive and adding lighted walkways in Scott and Riverside parks.


"I'm very pleased," Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said after the commission's unanimous decision. "Our waterfront will become the gathering place it should be."


The project aims to slim down Larry Holmes Drive to slow traffic, making it easier for pedestrians to reach Scott and Riverside parks and ''creating a public space that is more accessible,'' said Frank McCartney, the commission's executive director.

Read the full story here.


CA-based electrical supply plant to expand facilities in Northampton County

Myers Power Products,  an electrical supply company based in California, will replace its existing plant in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park with a facility more than twice its size in nearby Hanover Township in Northampton County, reports the Morning Call.

The 93,472-square-foot production facility will be built on 7 acres at 34 S. Commerce Way. The structure will replace Myers' facility at 2000 Highland Ave., also in Hanover Township. The 43,000-square-foot facility opened in 2001.


The new space will also house 10,278 square feet of office space, the company said. Myers said the current facility employs about 60 workers and it is yet to be determined if the company will be hiring more employees for the new location.


"The new facility, which will be larger and more efficient, will allow Myers to continue providing outstanding service to electrical engineers and contractors worldwide," said Bruce Steigerwald, general manager for Myers, in a news release.

Read the complete story here.



 


New campus approved for Penn State Lehigh Valley branch

Trustees approved the $12 million purchase of Lehigh Valley College building and campus in Center Valley, paving the way for Penn State's Lehigh Valley branch to move from Fogelsville to the new campus 16 miles away, reports the Morning Call.

The move will more than double the 47,000 square feet of building space available at Penn State's Fogelsville campus. Although the Fogelsville campus is larger, with 40 acres to Center Valley's 29 acres, Fogelsville had limited room for expansion.


"There are many limitations to the [Fogelsville] campus," Ann Williams, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley, said in a news release. "Much of the land on which it sits is unbuildable and limited by hilly topography and surrounding wetlands."


The Fogelsville campus is also in a primarily residential neighborhood, compared with the business parks and shopping mall near Lehigh Valley College, Williams said.

Read the complete story here.



 

 


Casino chips in for Carbon County industrial park


When county commissioners started to look for ways to finance a roadway to reach an industrial park that will benefit the region, neighboring Monroe County contributed revenues from Mount Airy Casino and Resort, according to the Morning Call.
Money from Poconos slot machines will help develop an industrial park in Carbon County.

County commissioners have agreed to accept $631,958 from the Mount Airy Casino Resort to improve Route 209 and build an access road to a Norfolk Southern railroad line at Packerton Yards.

Mount Airy generated $12.3 million that the host county, Monroe, is sharing with neighboring Carbon, Lackawanna, Wayne and Pike counties.
Read the full article here.



Organic food distribution company bringing natural choices, 125 jobs to Lehigh Valley

Tree of Life, Inc., a national food distribution company based in Florida and specializing in organic and natural products, expects to open a distribution center at an 84-acre industrial complex under construction in Lower Macungie Township, reports the Morning Call.

The company plans to move into a 580,000-square-foot warehouse by late summer or early fall, said Gene Carter, the company's senior vice president of logistics. It will replace a similar distribution center in New Jersey that the company plans to close in 2010.


Tree of Life will receive $400,000 in state funding for the project, according to the state Department of Community and Economic Development.As part of an agreement reached with the state, Tree of Life is required to create 121 jobs within a three-year period after it opens. The company said it would wait until later this year to release specific information about the jobs, salaries and how people can apply.

Read the full story here.


State Senator sees pro hockey team bringing new arena, urban development

State Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) believes future state and local taxes collected at an arena can help pay off the loans taken now to build it for the former Philadelphia Phantoms American Hockey League team, the Morning Call reports.

Both Allentown and Bethlehem are interested in luring the American Hockey League franchise--one step below the NHL--to the Valley.


Since the arena ''requires a lot of public investment, my preference would be for it to be an urban development,'' Browne said. ''Of course, I have some Allentown interest.''


The fundraising mechanism Browne sees is known in government-speak as a TIF, or ''tax increment financing,'' a tool commonly used to spur redevelopment of an economically distressed area.

Read the full story here.


Hockey rivalry roars over location of new Lehigh Valley arena

The Philadelphia Phantoms need a new home, and the contest to locate it is turning into a rivalry off the ice, the Allentown Morning Call reports.

In the Lehigh Valley's latest ''if you build it, they will come'' competition to have a venue for a minor league sports team, Northampton County's point man figures he has one advantage that's hard to match -- an unbridled passion for hockey.

Administration Director John Conklin started building the county's case 18 months ago, when he heard the Philadelphia Phantoms would need a new home. Now he's trying to package county and municipal taxes, grants and possibly loans in hopes of bringing hockey to Northampton County.

Read the full article here and an opinion of the Express Times here.

Survey finds large companies offer secure places to work in Lehigh Valley

Overall the picture for employment inched upward in the Lehigh Valley as the 2008 recession gave a nasty punch in other regions of the United States. The Morning Call examines how workers fared in Lehigh and Northampton counties.
Trimmed payrolls at Mack Trucks and Air Products and Chemicals were offset by gains at other employers, especially the local hospital networks...

At year's end, the top 25 private employers had 53,619 workers in the two-county region, up slightly from the 53,107 in 2007. That means employers on the top-25 list account for about one of every five jobs in the Lehigh Valley, which all told has 282,600 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Read the full story here.


65 PA public high schools win medals in nationwide ranking

U.S. News & World Report examines the performance of 21,000 public high schools in the United States, and 65 high schools in 28 Pennsylvania counties rank among the gold, silver, and bronze medal winners in the rankings of the nation's best performers.

In conjunction with a Standard & Poor's service, the project evaluated school results on standard reading and math exams and factored in a school's percentage of economically-disadvantaged students. The performance of African-American, Hispanic, and low-income students were also compared to statewide averages.
U.S.News & World Report-in collaboration with School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education and data research and analysis business that provides parents with education data on schoolmatters.com-analyzed academic and enrollment data from more than 21,000 public high schools to find the very best across the country. These top schools were placed into gold, silver, bronze, or honorable mention categories.
Read the alphabetical listing of Pennsylvania high school rankings here and read about the nationwide project here. The Erie Times-News also reports on recognition of Northwest PA high schools here.


Northhampton CC students prepare to join green energy work force

Preparing Lehigh Valley students to work in a green labor force is becoming a part of the curriculum at Northampton Community College. The Express-Times reports on the latest course to be added to the college's curriculum.

Last month, the college won one of a dozen $15,000 grants from the Allentown-based private nonprofit Sustainable Energy Fund and PPL Electrical Utilities to build a 3-kilowatt array of solar panels on campus.

This is the third year of the Solar Scholars program, which started in 2005 with one Pennsylvania school and is up to 12 this year.

Read the full article here.
 

PA ready to invest in business, energy, and infrastructure to help economy

Pennsylvania has a backup plan for giving the state's economy a pickup. It is prepared to make long-term investment in state infrastructure, the Morning Call reported Monday.
The state has more than $2.5 billion earmarked for various business, energy and infrastructure projects, which will help soften the blow of the global economic meltdown on Pennsylvania, a state official said this afternoon at a meeting of municipal and business representatives.
Read the full article here.


New chemical operation in Lehigh Valley will create 32 jobs

With an investment of $16 million in a 67,000-square-feet facility in the Lehigh Valley, Wacker Chemical Corp., a German firm, will develop its North American headquarters in the Lehigh Valley’s Upper Macungie Township. 

Governor Ed Rendell welcomed the firm’s operation to Pennsylvania during its groundbreaking ceremony.  The new space will house research and development, marketing and business support operations for Wacker’s polymer division and is expected to be completed by next fall.

Read more about Wacker’s arrival in Pennsylvania in this news item.


Bright idea could have brilliant future

Alternative energy tax credits are causing hundreds of home and business owners and local governments to price solar panels, small wind turbines and various other alternative energy systems since Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill that, for solar equipment, would cut costs by 35 percent, according to a report in the Allentown Morning Call.
 
Read the full article here.

New use sought for old plant in Northampton

The Northampton Area School Board last week voted unanimously to designate a 3-acre site on Horwith Lane at the Allen Township border as a Keystone Opportunity Zone, reported the Allentown Morning Call.
 
The vote came a week after the Northampton Borough Council also voted in favor of the program, which would help redevelop the Atlas Cement Co. office in Northampton, temporarily exempting any new businesses there from certain state, local and school district taxes.
 
Read the full article here.

Mack Trucks recalls 150 workers to Allentown plant

Mack Trucks has recalled about 150 laid-off workers this month to keep up with a surge of foreign orders, the Allentown Morning Call reported Wednesday.

The influx of workers will increase truck production at Mack Trucks' Lower Macungie Township plant from 38 to 58 trucks per day, according to a Mack spokesman.

The recall of workers began October 13, and the company recalled more laid-off employees on Monday, the paper said.

To read the full story, click here.

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