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Looking back at the work of a Wilkes-Barre street photographer

Works by Mark Cohen, a longtime Wilkes-Barre resident and street photographer, are on display at the Danziger Gallery in Manhattan. The New York Times looks back at Cohen's love affair with his hometown.

After 40 wonderful years, Mark Cohen has abruptly ended his relationship with his muse. It might seem like cold betrayal, but it’s really more complicated than that.

His muse isn’t a woman. It’s Wilkes-Barre, his Pennsylvania hometown, where he has been making stark street photographs since the 1970s. Last year Mr. Cohen, 71, moved to Philadelphia and into an apartment more manageable than the house where he raised his children and had his commercial studio.

His old romance was a black-and-white affair, literally, and he is showing some of those gritty images from the 1970s and 1980s at the Danziger Gallery in Manhattan. But this time he has included many lesser-known color photographs from the same era.

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

Lehigh Valley recognized for economic development

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yankees' Jeter is back in Northeast PA on rehab assignment

The New York Times reports on New York Yankees' captain Derek Jeter and his rehab assignment for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders.
Derek Jeter was here once before, at this diamond nestled in a mountainside in the coal region of northeast Pennsylvania. He batted second in the 1995 Class AAA All-Star Game, in a lineup with Jeromy Burnitz, Luis Lopez and others who long ago faded from the stage.
Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Pocono Raceway leads pack in greening NASCAR

YahooSports carries a NASCAR.com report on Pocono Raceway's recent Green campaign, which is setting the bar high for other NASCAR tracks.
While the entire NASCAR industry has spent the past month showcasing and stepping up its commitment to the sport's Race to Green initiative, Pocono Raceway has been a factor for years -- an example of what's possible not only for other NASCAR facilities, but also for any sports franchise or facility.
From a one-of-a-kind, on-site solar farm to a goal of 100 percent sustainability to an E-waste recycling event, compost program and even a flock of sheep herding on property, Pocono Raceway has been first among sports facilities to NASCAR Green's checkered flag. 
Original source: NASCAR.com
Read the full story here.

Pocono Biking: On the family bike trail in Jim Thorpe

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

Paste tunes in Pennsylvania's must-hear musical acts

Paste spotlights 11 musical acts, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Wilkes-Barre, and spanning a variety of genres.

The long stretch of Pennsylvania turnpike that takes you from Philly to Pittsburgh may be one of the most unexciting rides you’ll experience. But these two cities -- as well as spots in between like Harrisburg or Lancaster -- have no shortage of new, exciting bands to discover. Pennsylvania has it all: hip-hoppers, hard rockers, front-porch-folk rockers, indie rockers, dream weavers, power poppers, EDM’ers, and singers/songwriters galore.

Original source: Paste
Read the full story here.

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

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

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

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

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

Original source: The Atlantic
Read the full story here.

Fewer references to nature and animals in children's books, says study powered in part by Bloomsburg

A study of conducted by researchers at several universities, including Bloomsburg, shows the presence of nature has declined in children's picture books over time, USA Today reports.

Co-author Chris Podeschi of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania says: "This is just one sample of children's books, but it suggests there may be a move away from the natural world as the population is increasingly isolated from these settings. This could translate into less concern about the environment."

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, says this study and others suggest "a physical disassociation with the natural world. … Nature experience isn't a panacea, but it does help children and the rest of us on many levels of health and cognition. I believe that as parents learn more about the disconnect, they'll want to seek more of that experience for their children, including the joy and wonder that nature has traditionally contributed to children's literature."

Original source: USA Today
Read the full story here.

Nanticoke students' weather balloon collects plenty of data before landing in northern N.J.

The Neighbor News-Boonton reports on a weather balloon that launched from a high school near Wilkes-Barre and landed 80 miles away in New Jersey.

(Tony) Fleury teaches earth and space science at the Nanticoke High School near Wilkes-Barre, PA. His ninth-grade class put this experiment together for less than $200 for the components: smart phone for GPS tracking, camera, temperature sensor, plastic foam box, red parachute and helium balloon.

The 12th-grade physics class assisted the freshmen class with engineering.

The sensor had recorded a temperature as low as minus 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The camera automatically took photographs every 20 seconds through a hole in the box throughout the flight. There were photographs of the sky, the horizon, and of Sunset and Crystal Lakes just before landing.

Original source: Neighbor News-Boonton
Read the full story here.

Being local helps small banks stay relevant to small business

In northeastern Pennsylvania, like areas around the country, many customers prefer community banks to national banks, The Times-Tribune reports.

The nation's economic woes trace their roots to the financial sector. Banks and investment houses have been pilloried in popular consciousness. But community bankers are not the cigar-smoking moneybags demonized by Occupy Wall Street protesters, said Wilson Smith, bank equities analyst for Philadelphia-based Patriot Capital Partners.

"When you look at your community bankers, they are showing up to work to meet the financial needs of the community. They are not making swaps and derivative trades or trading for their own account," Mr. Smith said. "They are at the Rotary meetings, they are part of the community."

Landmark (Community Bank) itself was formed as a reaction to bank mergers and acquisitions that swept through the area 10 years ago. When local businesses found the transition rough and service undesirable, they provided capital to start a new bank, or a de novo bank, as new banking companies are called in the industry.

Original source: The Times-Tribune
Read the full story here.

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

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

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

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

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

Original source: Associated Press
Read the full story here.

DC charging stations coming to PA Turnpike in 2013

Seventeen service plazas along the Pennsylvania Turnpike are slated to have EV charging stations for electric cars by summer, 2013, reports AutoBlog.

Each plaza will get one Level 2 charging stations and two DC fast chargers, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Kevin Sunday told Essential Public Radio. The first stations will be put in in the spring of 2012.

Florida's Car Charging Group was awarded a grant worth a million dollars from the PDEP to install the Chargepoint charging stations made by Coulomb Technologies that look similar to this. On top of the million, the Turnpike Commission will spend up to $500,000 to upgrade the electricity infrastructure at the plazas "to provide the charging stations with the necessary voltage.

Original source: AutoBlog
Read the full story here.

IT employment growing in northeast PA

The information technology job market is on the rise in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas, The Citizens' Voice reports.

"There's a pretty broad and extensive network of IT people around here," said Chris Haran, chief information officer at TMG Health Inc., a medical billing, management and business services company that employs 950 people in the area. TMG's local IT staff has expanded to 140 from 110 last spring.
For eight years before joining TMG about six months ago, Haran headed the Northeastern Pennsylvania Technology Institute and the Great Valley Technology Center, which promote technology-based economic development and high-skill employment.
"Our goal was to create technology employment in the area and maybe we are seeing the fruits of it," Haran said. "A lot of firms are starting to recognize technology is important to their business."

Original source: The Citizens' Voice
Read the full story here.

Rockefeller Center display to feature first Christmas tree from PA

The fact that a spruce from the small Columbia County town of Mifflinville was destined for New York City's Rockefeller Center has been a poorly kept secret, the New York Daily News reports.

John Broscious, 70, who lives across the street from the tree, said rumors began swirling about six months ago.
"Soon after a bunch of people showed up taking pictures of the tree," Broscious said. "Then last summer, these large tank trucks began coming up here spraying all kinds of chemicals on the tree."
In recent days, a team of arborists arrived and wrapped every branch as if getting it ready for transportation.

Original source: New York Daily News
Read the full story here.

Schuylkill County clothing maker keeps fabric-making sustainable, local

Textile World profiles FesslerUSA, a Coal Region clothing maker dedicated to domestic manufacturing and sustainable business practices.

FesslerUSA's ability to produce its own fabric is one aspect that sets it apart from other apparel manufacturers remaining in the United States. "We made a decision very early on to be different from everyone else by being vertical and having fabric production. That's been key to our success and our ability to get through the economic downturn," said (CEO) Walter Meck.
A custom software program drives the entire manufacturing process. The company does all of its design services, knitting, cutting, sewing, folding, packing and final processing in-house. Dyeing and finishing is done by a local dyer with whom the company has done business for more than 40 years.

Original source: Textile World
Read the full story here.

Biologists hike to remote Pennsylvania streams to learn where trout live

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Power plants run on natural gas coming to Marcellus Shale drilling country

The Times Leader reports on a Virginia company's plans to build two natural gas-powered generating stations in northeastern PA.

Natural gas would be delivered to the plants in transmission lines, which would likely be built by the companies producing the gas that powers the plants, and electricity would be delivered to the multistate PJM Interconnection transmission grid via existing high voltage transmission lines adjacent to the two planned plant sites.

Power produced at the plants would be delivered via local utilities first, then to utilities further away.

The company hopes to break ground on the Bradford County plant, dubbed the Moxie Liberty Generation Plant, in late 2012 and on the Lycoming County plant, dubbed the Moxie Patriot Generation Plant, in early 2013.

Original source: The Times Leader
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
Read the full story here.

State's future could include natural gas-powered vehicles and major investments from chemical firms

The Patriot-News reports that during a recent meeting of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, state officials discussed the possibilities of billion-dollar investments by chemical companies and trucks powered by natural gas.

(Secretary of Community and Economic Development Alan) Walker also said there is "a need for an ammonium nitrate plant in Pennsylvania" because the two main ingredients are natural gas and water, both of which Pennsylvania has in great supply. Ammonium nitrate is an ingredient in agricultural fertilizer, which is used in huge quantities in the state.

Walker said his assistant Ashe Khare is on "a national search" to find a manufacturer to set up shop in the commonwealth.

Original source: The Patriot-News
Read the full story here.

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
Read the full story here.

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
Read the full story here.

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.

NEPAvalley.com: Social networking with a northeast PA accent

NEPAvalley.com, Dustin Parulis' new Facebook-esque social-networking website was designed just for people in the state's northeast corner, The Times Leader reports.

A NEPA forum will soon go live on the site allowing users to offer restaurant reviews talk about sports or other issues of interest to them and in general just create friendships with shared interests in the region.

And Parulis is also integrated a search feature called SearchNEPA.com. The search engine, like Google or Yahoo, gives results that are limited to Northeast Pennsylvania. It, too, is a work in progress.

The final NEPA touches that are being added to NEPAvalley.com, are the "Nepanisms." Instead of "liking" something, as you would on Facebook, you would click "heyna." To dislike the item, you would click "or no." Instead of a message to post what’s on your mind, you have the option to say “a couple, two, tree things."

Original source: The Times Leader
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
Read the full story here.

Stroudsburg's Sherman Theater touted as one of world's best concert venues

The Express-Times reports on the Sherman Theater, a revived Poconos concert venue Keystone Edge reported on in April that has drawn nationally known acts and been ranked as one of the world's top live music venues.

Besides offering a stage for touring national acts, the theater hosts the Sherman Independent Rock Series, which shines the spotlight on unsigned, local talent. Singer Chris Visconti, of Stroudsburg, Pa.-based rock group North of the City, says it's a stepping stone for bands looking to make it big.

"That's how, obviously, every band gets a start, is by building up a following," Visconti says. "We're going to be doing more and more regional stuff. But every time we come home, it's always the Sherman."

Original source: The Express-Times
Read the full story here.

Stegmaier kin pouring life into vacant NEPA beer distributor, creating upscale craft brewery

Thanks to the great-great grandson of a local brewing pioneer, an empty beer distributor near Wilkes-Barre is being turned into a state-of-the-art German-style craft brewery set to open this fall, The Citizens' Voice reports.

The Susquehanna Brewing Co. will distribute beer throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and will be different from the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, a national supplier which does contract brewing, they said.

"Our goal is start in Northeastern Pennsylvania and hopefully, the demand for our products creates a situation where we could slowly expand our marketing and selling area," (partner Mark) Nobile said.

Original source: The Citizens' Voice
Read the full story here.

PA Peanut Power: Planters hits highway in peanut-shaped truck fueled by biodiesel

The New York Times reports that a peanut-shaped truck built for Planters Peanuts, which was founded and headquartered in Wilkes-Barre for 36 years ending in 1961 and includes floorboards taken from a Lancaster barn, will tour the country, powered by peanut-based biodiesel.

The Nutmobile's unmodified diesel engine will run on up to 20 percent biodiesel fuel and return 10 to 15 miles per gallon, Mr. Riseborough said. Energy captured and converted by the wind turbine and solar panel drive an alternator that recharges batteries for the vehicle’s interior lighting and sound system.

"This form of advertising has really taken off," Joe Doyon, Turtle Transit's general manager, said in a telephone interview. "The advent of camera phones means that vehicles like the Nutmobile get photographed a lot."

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

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
Read the full story here.

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.

Canadian company plans $800M clean-coal power plant in Schuylkill County

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

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

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

Original source: The Republican-Herald
Read the full story here.

Virtual to reality: NEPA LinkedIn networking group now meets face to face

Go Lackawanna reports on members of a LinkedIn group for professionals in Northeast PA that's begun networking the old-fashioned way -- in person.

The Northeast PA Networkers, a 1,225-member group, was created by Bob Courtright in December 2008. Courtright, 50, of Scranton, president and executive recruiter of Courtright and Associates, Inc., his own business, said he watched the growth of LinkedIn closely.

“As a recruiter, I knew I could use it as a tool,” Courtright said. As his own network of LinkedIn connections grew, he began the local group.

Originally, there were no intentions to hold real life meetings.

Original source: Go Lackawanna
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.

Gov. Corbett appoints advisor to focus on energy policy

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

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

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

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

Original source: The Daily Review

Read the full story here.

Water-supply regulation agency releases proposed regulations for natural gas drilling

The Delaware River Basin Commission released long-awaited proposals for rules to govern natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and other states, the Associated Press reports.

The Delaware River Basin Commission published the long-awaited regulations on its website. They govern a range of drilling activities, including water withdrawals, well pad siting and wastewater disposal, and require drilling companies to post a bond of $125,000 per well to cover the plugging and restoration of abandoned wells and the remediation of any pollution.

Original source: Associated Press
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.

Natural-gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to upstate New York receives federal approval

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a planned transmission line to carry Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania to upstate New York, The Leader reports.
Empire Pipeline’s new 15-mile-long, 24-inch pipeline will carry Marcellus Shale gas produced in Pennsylvania north to Corning, where it will connect with the Millennium Pipeline.
The Millennium Pipeline runs across the Southern Tier and helps supply gas to New York City and New England.
Original source: The Leader
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.

Halliburton discloses fracking chemicals, but not specific amounts

Halliburton's disclosure of the chemicals used in its fracturing technology reveals both the toxic and benign, reports the Associated Press on WSJ.com.

A new Halliburton website provides information on the chemicals the company says are in its three most commonly used solutions in the state, where drilling crews are rushing to exploit the Marcellus Shale, the biggest known deposit of natural gas in the nation.

Halliburton does not say how much of each chemical has been pumped into the ground or identify the wells where they are used, nor does it reveal the exact concentration of each chemical in an overall solution. In general, water makes up the lion's share. Sand comprises about 6 percent while chemical cocktails amount to less than 2 percent.

Many of the chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, methanol and acetic acid, are toxic in high enough doses, and appear in everyday household and industrial solvents, cleaners and adhesives.

Original source: Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Founder of Wilkes-Barre's Pepperjam goes big with capital fund investment

Kris Jones, founder of internet marketing darling Pepperjam in Wilkes-Barre, has invested $1 million in the angel fund KBJ Capital, reports the Citizens Voice.

His first investment was $100,000 in Highlighter.com, an early-stage technology firm that allows Web readers to highlight, comment and share on blogs, e-books and PDFs. Mr. Jones will serve as an adviser to the company founded by Josh Mullineaux, Matt Blancarte and Nate Whitehill. He plans to serve as an adviser and mentor to the companies in which he invests.

"The primary goal of the fund is to provide seed funding and mentorship to early- stage technology companies," Mr. Jones said. "KBJ will provide preference to companies located in Northeastern Pennsylvania."

Original source: Citizens Voice
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CAN DO approved to finance small businesses in Luzerne County

The PA DCED has approved Greater Hazleton economic development agency CAN DO Inc. as an area loan organization for Luzerne County, reports the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

Jared Lucas, division director of Small Business First, one of the loan programs, said CAN DO is one of 28 ALOs that assist small businesses statewide.

He said ALO certification allows the organization to underwrite and package loans for review and approval by DCED, and service the loans after approval.

In addition to Small Business First, CAN DO also will administer First Industries Fund, Community Economic Development Program and Pollution Prevention Assistance Account loans.

Original source: Hazleton Standard-Speaker
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Grant for NEPA autism center earns approval

A $20,000 grant to fund the building of a new autism information resource center was approved on Wednesday by Lackawanna County Commissioners, reports the Times Leader.

The grant agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the county was made possible by the state’s Community Revitalization Assistance Program. It was a collaborative effort involving eight counties, including Lackawanna and Luzerne. The county’s Director of Human Services, Teresa Baker, said that several state representatives, including Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), helped make the project possible.

"This will support our regional autism efforts. Lackawanna County and seven other regional counties have collaborated to create the Autism Information Resource Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The $20,000 is one-time-only with no match required for start-up costs. Our stakeholders are now gathering again to determine the infrastructure of this much-needed autism information resource center," Teresa Baker said.

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

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

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

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

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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Ruckno's Keystone Energy plans for 17-acre solar farm; Dallas School District on board

Luzerne-based Keystone Energy has plans to build a solar farm on 17 acres, and one of its first customers could be nearby Dallas School District, reports the Citizens Voice.

The solar farm is the latest project for the company, which installs solar panels and does retrofitting for energy efficiency. Commercial clients include Payne Printery in Dallas; InterMountain Medical Group in Kingston Township; George J. Hayden Electric in Hazleton; Grasshopper Lawns in Larksville; the office of Dr. Matthew Berger in Moosic; and Wendy's restaurant in Drums.

In addition, Keystone Energy has installed a 10-kilowatt solar panel system behind the Ruckno Construction buildings to provide its own energy.

"We are practicing what we are preaching," Keystone Energy President A.J. Bittner said.

Original source: Citizens Voice
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PA set to receive $29M for small business loans

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

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

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

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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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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Northeast PA colleges shatter enrollment records

Northeast PA's institutions of higher learning are experiencing record enrollment, including Misericordia University, Lackawanna College and Marywood University, reports the Times Leader.

"Realizing not only increased enrollment but continuing improvement in the quality of our freshmen as well reinforces that Misericordia’s planned growth strategy is working," said Michael A. MacDowell, president of Misericordia University. “We continue to believe that the Misericordia tradition of combining outstanding academics, superb career preparation, and honing each individual’s passion to serve others is attractive to today’s students. As our growing enrollment suggests, high school graduates and their parents seem to agree.”

King’s College in Wilkes-Barre welcomed its third largest freshman class ever but set a record when it came to students living in college housing.

Original source: Times Leader
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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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Innovation Center moves downtown Wilkes-Barre forward

The Times Leader profiles the Innovation Center of Wilkes-Barre, a six year-old business incubator that is growing with a mix of successful companies and startups.

The startups benefit from shared services within the facility, below market rent and the lessons offered by the more experienced businesses. In addition, all tenants can apply for the tax breaks offered through the state’s Keystone Opportunity Zone program, but only for a little while longer.

It already has paid dividends by creating more than 100 jobs that pay salaries higher than the average in Northeastern Pennsylvania and putting more than $2 million into the local economy, he added.

Original source: Times Leader
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Small federal agency in PA hits brakes on Marcellus Shale drilling rush

The Delaware River Basin Commission, an obscure-but-potent federal agency has imposed a moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling as it prepares regulations, reports the New York Times.

That makes the state-federal hybrid agency one of the first regulatory bodies to initiate a moratorium on drilling and marks the most skeptical approach yet to driller's claims that producing gas from shale is perfectly safe for human health and the environment.

DRBC executive director Carol Collier said Pennsylvania and New York regulators do not have strong authority to regulate water issues, and the commission can fill in the gaps to protect the Delaware watershed.

Original source: New York Times

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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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Energy institute in Wilkes-Barre with focus on natural gas drilling to be created with $1M grant

Wilkes University, King's College and the Earth Conservancy will jointly operate a local energy institute focused on natural gas drilling issues in the Marcellus Shale, reports the Times-Tribune.

Staff at the institute will research natural gas drilling's impact on the local community and environment and help with problem-solving for issues that arise. The institute also will enhance public outreach efforts to promote safe and environmentally responsible drilling, (U.S. Rep. Paul) Kanjorski, D-11, Nanticoke, said at a press conference Monday at Wilkes University.

The $1 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory is seed money for the project and "the first of what we hope of many, many millions of dollars over the next five years," Mr. Kanjorski said. Over time, the project could cost $50 million to $100 million, he said after the press conference.

Original source: Times-Tribune
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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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Wind turbine company searches for manufacturing site in Scranton

WindTamer Corp., based in Rochester, N.Y, began touring facilities in Scranton as they plan a move that could bring 400 jobs to the region over the next three years, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports.

"As we continue to evolve, we'd like to bring more of the key processes in house. Our thought is that we’d build those key components here," Schmitz said. "We think that Scranton is a very good next step for us."

The company has put nearly 50 different turbines in various locations across the Rochester area and sees small wind turbines, those that produce 100 kilowatts of power or less, as a viable niche for commercial, residential and agricultural growth.

Original Source: Times Leader

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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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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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Young Professionals Networks help power the Electric City

Young Professionals Networks like Scranton POWER! are creating lasting connections and business opportunities for the Northeast PA economy, the Wilkes-Barre Citizen's Voice reports.

Michele Dempsey, 38, president of DxDempsey, met Bobby Soper, president and CEO of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township, when he spoke at a POWER! outage.

When a Nevada retail group later contacted Soper asking him for an architect referral, one of the firms he suggested was DxDempsey. That referral led to her firm being selected as the architect for two retail stores at Mohegan Sun and as the design consultant for two stores in the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino and another store in the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and possibly more to come, she said.

Original Source: Citizen's Voice

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Indian firm buys 60 percent stake in Marcellus Shale asset

Reliance Industries, India's largest company, has acquired a 60 percent stake in a large Marcellus Shale gas asset from Carrizo Oil & Gas for $392 million, Blooomberg News reports.

The company controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani will pay $392 million for the stake in the Marcellus shale-gas areas of central and northeast Pennsylvania, according to an e-mailed statement today. Reliance, based in Mumbai, will pay $340 million in cash and cover part of Carrizo's drilling costs over two years.

The Indian energy explorer and oil refiner agreed in April and June to pay a total of $3 billion to buy shale-gas assets from Atlas Energy Inc. and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. Reliance joins Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. in acquiring unconventional gas reserves in the U.S., where shale-gas accounted for about 10 percent of the country’s total output in 2008.

Original Source: Bloomberg News

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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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