Friday, August 8, 2008

Cranberry Township Retail Project in Jeopardy, over 1,000 New Jobs With It

An ongoing story that has developed over the past three years and well covered by the Pittsburgh Business Times's Tim Schooley and Ben Semmes concerns multiple retail and office projects planned for the Cranberry Twp, PA area near the intersection of I-79 and state route 228.On the planning block for three years, the cornerstone project involves Simon Properties, owner of Ross Park Mall, South Hills Village and Century Three Mall, as well as dozens of other properties around the country. This would be a retail project of over 850,000 square feet similar in design to Pittsburgh’s Waterfront in West Homestead.With a total projected cost of over 85 million dollars, Simon has put together financing of 40 million along with an additional 25 million from state and local sources, leaving a shortfall of 20 million needed to break ground. A large part of the funding would go toward road improvements needed to both Rt. 228 and to the I-79-Rt 228 interchange to handle projected traffic volumes created by the projects.A project of this scope, as accessible as it would be, do to it’s location near I-79, I-76 (PA Turnpike), state Rt. 19 and state Rt. 228, would make it a destination for shoppers from a 50 mile radius and more. The number of good jobs created would be over a thousand not counting the additional support and ancillary jobs. Click on the image for a larger view.It would be more than a shame if this project were to die because this funding gap could not be closed by the unofficial deadline of the end of 2008. Simon Properties has inferred that if no real progress is made by then they will walk away and look elsewhere for investment opportunities.It’s time our state and federal representatives step up and help close this gap. Opportunities like this are extremely rare. The benefits we would get are regional in scope. Our elected leaders have an opportunity here to show the leadership they were elected to provide. Or they can do nothing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pittsburgh Area Career Schools Being Hit By Weak Pittsburgh Market

While Pittsburgh’s hourly job market continues to hold up relatively well compared to most others around the country, Pittsburgh area career schools are finding student enrollment struggling to keep up with year ago levels.Not because of a bad local economy. This is because when an area’s job market is doing well, fewer people seek re-training. It is this re-training market that two year schools gain a large percentage of their revenue from.

We saw this phenomenon in Florida and the west coast markets back in 2005 and 2006 when the job markets in those areas were booming from the then white hot housing markets. Pittsburgh was still recovering from the huge loss of US Air jobs and a number of large retail chains that closed.

Now it appears the pendulum has swung the other way. With proclaiming Pittsburgh the hottest job market for the 5th month in a row in July based on their Online Jobs Index in year over year activity (“On an annual basis, Pittsburgh is the only metro market now showing greater online job availability compared to a year ago and remains the Index’s top growth market year-over-year due to continued strong demand for healthcare, IT, education, construction and production occupations”) and as we see our help wanted ad volume hold up well to last year, local Pittsburgh area jobs, led by healthcare and education, though not enjoying large increases year over year, are increasing none the less.

For schools in better job markets to maintain growth it is highly recognized they must be willing to make adjustments to their course offerings to offer training in the areas of particular strength in that market. We are beginning to see that in Pittsburgh with new courses being offered in Hospitality Management (for the new casino) and in healthcare fields such as Occupational and Physical Therapy Assistants.

As we have predicted in the past Pittsburgh, though certainly not unaffected by the national economy, is continuing to weather the storm relatively well.
Posted by Pittsburgh Employment Guide (R) at
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