Manufacturing: Not Old-line, but Alive and Well and Bringing Investment (and National Media!) to the Pittsburgh Region

Manufacturing is not a dinosaur in the Pittsburgh region.  And this is in spite of the reality that dinosaur remains from pre-historic times have ironically provided our region with a rich supply of oil and natural gas for energy, which is critical, low-cost fuel for the manufacturing process.

Instead of being resigned to a legacy industry of yesteryear, manufacturing is alive and well and is consistently remains one of the key drivers of southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy.  In fact, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance – the economic development marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development – in its 2014 Business Investment Scorecard report noted that manufacturing was the most active of the region’s five key sectors when it came to business investment deals.  Manufacturing accounted for 68 announced projects, presenting nearly half a billion dollars in capital investment.

Five National Journalists “Meet the Manufacturers” in Pittsburgh

Recently, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) hosted five national journalists from outlets including USA Today, Voice of America, U.S. News & World Report, Prism magazine and Inside Science TV.  The PRA presented a dinner program, tour and live taping of the Conference’s weekly business affairs TV show, “Our Region’s Business,” at Pittsburgh’s new Energy Innovation Center, located in the Lower Hill neighborhood, near downtown.

The live taping included a panel of industry experts from a variety of regional companies in the business of making things.  They shared how innovation and technology are taking manufacturing to new levels in a region rooted in manufacturing expertise.  Watch the segment featuring Aquion Energy and WindStax Wind Power Systems here, then tune in the segment featuring Calgon Carbon and PPG Industries.  Finally, go behind the scenes at the Energy Innovation Center with a segment of the show that explores how an old Pittsburgh Public Schools vo-tech high school has been transformed into a 21st-century institute for hands-on learning and research tied to traditional and renewable energy.

As the interviews with the manufacturers noted above show, the industry today in the Pittsburgh region looks very different than it did in the last 100 years.  Largely gone are the behemoth industrial facilities that often populated prime riverfront property because access to water was essential to the industry.  Modern manufacturing in Pittsburgh much more streamlined and efficient. Sometimes it can happen successfully from a modest-sized facility.  Technology is as much fuel to this industry for the successful making of things as is the actual fuel that keeps plants humming. It enables manufacturing processes to be smarter, faster and better – all of which impacts the bottom line – both for manufacturers and customers.

Technology and efficiency are not only making impact the sustainability of manufacturing as an key economic sector, but they are helping to reduce carbon footprints, energy consumption and pollution – actions which enhance the sustainability of the “clean and green” landscape that Pittsburgh has worked so hard to achieve over the last 80 years.

Complementary to this is the output of a number of manufacturers based in the region – large and small, seasoned and startup.  Their products, materials, components and systems – innovated and made in the region – are in demand and address global needs for smarter ways to make the planet a better place to live, work and play.