Economy & Business

90.5 WESA explores the regional economy, as well as covering the issues that ordinary Pittsburghers face in their working lives.



Philadelphia fashion week, demand at Larrimor’s and a spot on Facebook’s small business council might not have been where Nisha Blackwell thought her sewing career would take her. According to the Homewood-based, bowtie business owner, she wasn’t sure how to turn on her machine a little more than four years ago.

Mick Stinelli / 90.5 WESA

Century III Mall did not go up for the planned sheriff’s sale on Monday, according to Kevin Kraus, chief deputy at the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office.

Mick Stinelli / 90.5 WESA

It's empty, cavernous and quiet. A pristine shopping center just 30 years ago, the Century III Mall in West Mifflin now lists just 14 stores on its website. But among its vast swath of empty storefronts is also a thriving comics store.

Ron Schwane / AP Photo

The assembly plant recently targeted by General Motors in Ohio's Mahoning Valley served as an economic lifeline for thousands of locals over the years. The announcement Tuesday effectively closes the Lordstown plant and six others next year as part of a larger campaign to restructure operations. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


The region’s Amazon proposal was a collaborative learning experience for Pittsburgh leaders, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said this week, but according to Amazon, the region's talent pool isn't deep enough and the city lacks appropriate infrastructure.

Care Work

Nov 28, 2018
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Keeping young children safe and curious, caring for aging parents or counseling a friend suffering from heartbreak are not easy tasks. Done off-the-clock, we don’t not always think of these things as work. In this episode of 90.5 WESA’s series, Still Working, we follow four people for whom caring is part of the job description.

Short: 'Like Getting Punched In The Face'

Nov 28, 2018
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

A rainy day combined with a moss-covered tree, and Bryan McQuaid ended up with a broken bone in his shoulder. While trimming trees for an electric utility, the spikes on his shoes slipped. McQuaid’s safety harness caught him, but swung him hard into a tree.

Kiichiro Sato / AP

Pennsylvania is set to launch its sports betting industry soon -- the first wave of states to do so after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May legalized the industry nationwide. Lawmakers in Harrisburg have already accounted for expected revenue in the state budget, but there's a lot we still don't know.

Steph Chambers / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Hand-pulling noodles is a coveted culinary craft that takes years to learn and even longer to master. The chefs are part athlete, part artist, and restaurants like Everyday Noodles in Squirrel Hill need immigrants to make their business model work. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania’s revenue watchdog is predicting state lawmakers will have to fill a sizable budget hole for the next fiscal year.

Richard Drew / AP


Amazon officially dumped Pittsburgh as a potential home for its second (and third) headquarters this week, opting instead to split its $5 billion in promised investment between Virginia and New York. 

Richard Vogel / AP

Amazon will split its second headquarters between Long Island City in New York and Crystal City in northern Virginia.

Katie Meyer / WITF

A state audit of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission has uncovered more than $20,000 in food expenses and employee perks it labeled “extravagant,” and “questionable” from summer 2016 to this year.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Amazon will split its second headquarters between two cities, according to reports earlier this week by NPR, The New York Times and others.

Richard Drew / AP

New York is one of the finalists in Amazon's search to build another headquarters, according to a person familiar with the talks.

After a yearlong search for a second home, Amazon is now reportedly looking to build offices in two cities instead of one, a surprise move that could still have a major impact on the sites it ultimately selects.

Report: Amazon In ‘Advanced Talks’ To Build New HQ Near DC

Nov 4, 2018
Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Retail giant Amazon Inc. is in "advanced talks" to open its second headquarters in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Bar Work

Nov 1, 2018
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

To “set a high bar” is one of those stock phrases moms and bosses use to talk about expectations and achievement and the importance of giving your all. In this episode of Still Working, 90.5 WESA’s series about work, we took that bar literally. We shadowed a lawyer (who must pass the bar to practice), a ballerina (who begins class each day at the barre), an ironworker (“Rebar makes the world go round"), and a bartender (not going to explain that one).

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania is approving sports betting at three more casinos as it gets closer to becoming the sixth state with sports betting.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA


San Francisco-based company Affirm has announced Pittsburgh will be the location of its second flagship office.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Steve Kelley spends his nights cleaning offices in downtown Pittsburgh. He’s a union janitor with SEIU 32BJ. While he makes his way through three huge floors, he thinks about music; he plays heavy metal. “It’s my heart, it’s my passion,” he says.

Peoples Natural Gas

Aqua America Inc., a Bryn Mawr, Pa. headquarted water utility company, has announced it will buy Peoples Gas and its subsidiaries in a $4.3 billion all-cash deal. 

According to a press release, the resulting company will serve one million water utility customer connections and more than 740,000 gas customer connections.

As part of the deal, Aqua will assume about $1.3 billion of Peoples' debt.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state attorney general's office is asking Philadelphia residents who think they may have been victims of discrimination when applying for home loans to file complaints with his office.

Governor Tom Wolf / flickr

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella is backing a shareholder proposal to push Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg out as chair of the company's board of directors.

Second Major Coal Company Declares Bankruptcy During Trump Presidency

Oct 11, 2018
David Goldman / AP

Westmoreland Coal Company, one of the oldest mining companies in the country, became the second major coal bankruptcy of the Trump presidency Tuesday when the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Texas court.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Being prepared is not just a motto for the Boy Scouts. When the mercury plummets, evening breaking news reporter Andrew Goldstein of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette knows the value of having the right tool for the job.

Suiseiseki / Wikimedia Commons

Who is in charge of assuring a city's evening economy thrives? In Pittsburgh, it’s nighttime economy manager Allison Harnden. She talks about what that job entails and how the Pittsburgh model differs from similar positions around the U.S. and abroad.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Some UPMC workers took to Pittsburgh’s downtown streets Thursday to highlight their uphill battle to form a union.

Megan Farmer / KUOW

Twenty cities are still waiting for Amazon to anoint the home of its second North American headquarters. Most will be disappointed, which begs the question: was it worth all the trouble?

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

As far as Justin Bongiorni is concerned you can keep your toast, your gourmet sandwiches, your extravagant grilled cheese. For the head baker at Allegro Hearth Bakery, bread stands alone. “I don't need to add anything to it, really. It's fine just like that for me.”

Coke Whitworth / AP

Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters Inc. says it plans to invest $30 million into a planned facility in central Pennsylvania.

Officials with the lifestyle retail corporation say it plans to open an estimated 800,000-sq. foot fulfillment center in Indiana County, which could open within a year. Construction is set to start next month on the project, creating 600 temporary construction jobs.

Officials say White Township of Indiana County will gain 225 permanent jobs from the project.