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2 top corporations move headquarters to Pittsburgh's 'dynamic marketplace'

| Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:21 p.m.

Two regional companies announced Wednesday that they will make Pittsburgh their headquarters — beckoned from their suburban bases by a desire to be in a thriving big city that could help increase their profiles.

Michael Baker International and the parent company of First National Bank of Pennsylvania aren't pulling up the stakes and relocating all their employees to Pittsburgh from their old headquarters. They have simply identified Pittsburgh as the place they will call home.

Michael Baker International LLC, a $1.2 billion construction-engineering company, will move its headquarters and 65 workers from Moon to the two top floors of Bank of New York Mellon Center, Downtown, in December. It will still retain a significant presence in Moon.

F.N.B. Corp. said it will ditch Hermitage, Mercer County, as the headquarters city for the region's third-largest bank. It said the decision to make the Pittsburgh North Shore its home base will not impact employees.

The decision by the two companies underscores Pittsburgh's transformation over decades from its industrial base to a business center dominated by banking, healthcare, technology and education. Pittsburgh is headquarters to a number of major companies, including eight on the Fortune 500 list.

A spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto could not be reached for comment.

In moving the headquarters to Pittsburgh, F.N.B. is acknowledging the city's importance to the bank's growth, said CEO Vincent Delie Jr.

“I think the real story here is that we have grown here,” he said. “We probably should have done this a while ago. We've had considerable growth in Pittsburgh.”

Since establishing its first office in Pittsburgh in 1997, First National has expanded with 84 locations around the city. Its North Shore center has been the regional headquarters since 2004, and more than 800 employees work in Pittsburgh.

Being a Pittsburgh-based bank will help First National broaden its reach in recruiting talent. Nobody outside Western Pennsylvania had heard of Hermitage, a city of about 17,000, Delie said. But most know Pittsburgh, particularly as the city's reputation for quality of life grows.

“I think it will help (recruitment). I think it will help because of the appeal of living here,” Delie said. “As we continue to grow, we're starting to reach further beyond the immediate area to attract people.”

First National has expanded outside of Western Pennsylvania, too, particularly in Maryland, where it has acquired a number of community banks. The bank will keep its operations center and support staff in Hermitage, and its charter will stay in Greenville, where it was established 150 years ago.

Michael Baker CEO Kurt Bergman said in an interview that moving the headquarters to the city will enable the $1.2 billion company to be closer to key clients and emerging markets.

Michael Baker International was created in October when the former Michael Baker Corp. in Moon was acquired and taken private by Integrated Mission Solutions LLC, an affiliate of DC Capital Partners in a $397 million transaction. Michael Baker has been in Western Pennsylvania for 75 years and has 625 employees here.

“We're very excited to do this,” Bergman said. “When we merged in October, one of the things we looked at was Pittsburgh's very dynamic marketplace. The more I talked to other executives, they said we needed to be Downtown.”

Bergman had been the CEO of Integrated Mission Solutions in Washington, and he said both companies were consolidated under the Michael Baker name in the Pittsburgh area. About 400 of the company's employees, including its engineering and services staff, will remain in its Moon location.

The merged company has about 5,000 employees, 80 locations and 37 offices in the United States and overseas.

“We essentially doubled the size of the old Michael Baker,” Bergman said.

Chris Fleisher and John D. Oravecz are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Fleisher can be reached at 412-320-7854 or cfleisher@tribweb.com. Oravecz can be reached at 412-320-7882 or joravecz@tribweb.com.

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