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269 projects brought $3.2 billion to Pittsburgh

| Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Pittsburgh region secured 269 economic development projects last year that should inject a total of $3.2 billion in capital investments into this area, according to a report being released today.

The capital investments would be the second highest since the tracking began in 2007 and tops the total from 2011 by $750 million, according to the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, which tracks economic “wins” in the 10-county region. The highest capital investment total was $5.7 billion in 2008.

The projects announced in 2012 are expected to add 8,388 jobs and retain 3,422 jobs over the “next seveal years,” a time span the PRA did not specify.

The PRA, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, plans to present details of its annual economic development scorecard at a news conference Downtown this morning .

“The deals of 2012 represent billions of dollars that will further build up the regional business landscape with new and expanded facilities, in addition to the expectation of job creation and retention in coming years,” said Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference, in a statement.

Nearly two-thirds of the projects — typically a plant expansion — were in the manufacturing, energy, and financial and business-services sectors, the report revealed. The group generally does not count retail developments.

Manufacturing accounted for 59 of the wins last year, the most of any sector and up from 53 in 2011. The second most came from financial and business services, whose companies announced 55 projects last year.

The energy sector accounted for 53 projects, including 21 investments from natural resources companies. They include producers of coal and natural gas. The number of natural resources projects declined from 39 in 2011 because Marcellus shale-related investments already had rushed into this region, which the PRA called a “center of American energy.”

Yablonsky said the 2012 economic development scorecard helps demonstrate the Pittsburgh region's “sustained economic prosperity” since the onset of the deep recession of 2008-2009.

The PRA chief cited a Brookings Institution report in December naming Pittsburgh as one of only five North American cities to return to pre-recession levels of employment and the value of goods and services produced per person. The other cities were Dallas; Knoxville, Tenn.; Edmonton and Vancouver.

The seven-county Pittsburgh region hit record average employment levels of 1.16 million workers in 2012, topping the previous record of 1.15 million set in 2001.

Alec Friedhoff, a senior research analyst at Brookings, said this region experienced the “sixth least-worst recession” of the 100 major metro areas tracked by the think tank.

Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached a 412-320-7854 or at tolson@tribweb.com.

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