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Roundup: $12M paid for Northway Mall; foreign trade zone expands; gas prices still falling; more

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

The Ohio developer who plans to turn the Shoppes at Northway in Ross into a successful retail development, paid $12 million for the property, according to a deed filed in Allegheny County. Levey & Co. of Akron, Ohio, through its LRC Northway Mall Acquisitions LLC, completed the deal with Jefferson Pilot Investments LLC on Friday, according to the deed. Still on Levey's agenda is to purchase the vacant Northway Elementary School, located adjacent the mall. Levey has a sales agreement on the school for $2.46 million, which the North Hills School District approved in May. Levey plans to hold a public meeting Wednesday with residents and busineses to discuss the school but not reveal a master plan for both school and mall.

Foreign trade zone expands

Western Pennsylvania's foreign trade zone has been expanded to include the former Sony Corp. plant in Westmoreland County and vacant acreage at the Westmoreland Business & Industry Park. The approval, from the Department of Commerce's Foreign Trade Zones Board, also includes the Tsudis Chocolate Co. Building in O'Hara Township. The Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania operates Foreign Trade Zone #33, which contains over 7,000 acres in the region. Local companies using the zone include Aircraft Service International Inc., VSMPO-Tirus US, Leedsworld Inc., Steelite International USA Inc., and Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. A foreign trade zone is a secure area located near or in a U.S. Customs port of entry where companies involved in international trade can receive, store, assemble, process, manufacture and ship foreign and domestic merchandise, and are outside the U.S. for Customs duty purposes. No duty is paid if the merchandise is exported to a foreign country from the zone.

Gasoline prices continue to fall

Gasoline prices in Western Pennsylvania continue to decline, dropping 3.8 cents a gallon this week, AAA East Central said on Tuesday. The average price for regular gas was $3.577 a gallon, down from $3.615 a gallon last week. Average prices around the region this week ranged from a high of $3.629 in Altoona to a low of $3.486 in New Castle. But prices are still well above the national average, which on Tuesday was $3.381, AAA said.

FedEx to offer buyouts

FedEx will be offering some employees up to two years pay to leave the company next year. The voluntary program is part of an effort by the second-biggest package delivery company to cut annual costs by $1.7 billion within three years. Employees who volunteer for the program will receive four weeks of pay for every year of service, capped at two full years of base pay. Those eligible will be notified in February, and have until April to apply. They'll be informed in May if they are accepted. FedEx is based in Memphis, Tenn., and its FedEx Ground unit is based in Robinson.

Bank earnings up 6.6%

Banks earned more from July through September than in any other quarter over the past six years. The increase is further evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the 2008 financial crisis. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that the banking industry earned $37.6 billion in the third quarter, up 6.6 percent from $35.3 billion in the third quarter of 2011. About 57 percent of the banks reported improved earnings, which allowed them to set aside less for losses on loans. And the number of troubled banks fell to the lowest level in three years.

Group to discuss preparedness

Businesses around the Pittsburgh region can learn about disaster preparedness at a forum featuring Thomas Minton III, director of Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security, next Tuesday. He will discuss the topic in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The forum is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security, a group of 140 organizations dedicated to disaster preparedness. Tuesday's session, which is free of charge, will take place at the Sheraton Hotel, Station Square in the South Side, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Registration is required by calling 412-818-8722 or by e-mailing

Other business news

• D.A. Davidson & Co., a securities brokerage firm based in Great Falls, Mont., has opened an office in Wexford for fixed-income investing. It is staffed by Chief Credit Strategist John Koodrich and Tracy Hindman, vice president of institutional sales.

— Staff and wire reports

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