Share This Page

Penn State students pitch ideas for former Alcoa plant

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 10:24 a.m.

Creating a plan to market the former Alcoa Research Labs property in New Kensington will be a sizable task for developer Steve Kubrick.

He has his hands full renovating the buildings' 200,000 square feet of space.

To lighten his load, Penn State New Kensington students stepped in to develop a proposal for marketing the 17-acre site to prospective tenants and the community.

The proposal was a semester-long project for the public relations methods class taught by Camille Downing, an adjunct professor at the Upper Burrell campus.

“It gives them a chance to take all of the theories they learn and apply them in a practical way,” said Downing, adding she often has her classes work on a project connected to a real-world situation.

Ten students delivered the formal presentation on Thursday to an audience that included Kubrick, PSNK Chancellor Kevin Snider, New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo, New Kensington Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Kim McAfoose and about a dozen members of the Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth (WEDIG).

Senior Jamie Mazzotta of New Kensington presented an overview of their project. It first involved meeting with Kubrick to discuss his vision; touring the buildings at the corner of Edgewood and Freeport roads; and learning the history of the site that was used by Alcoa from 1929 to the late 1990s.

Mazzotta said they also surveyed local businesses to gauge what methods of promotion they use. The results led the students to suggest Kubrick create a website and use other social-media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

The students identified strengths including Kubrick's willingness to make rent reasonable and to alter space to suit tenants; the property's accessibility and good reputation; and the project's strong ties to city government.

The lack of promotion, advertising and branding were cited as weaknesses.

Junior Stacey Ansell of Springdale suggested several events Kubrick could host to promote the site, including open houses and concerts on the site's large front lawn to let the public “see that it's alive and breathing again.”

Although he is not bound to implement any of the suggestions from the class, Kubrick thanked them for their efforts and said he is interested in using their ideas.

“There's a lot of good kids in this group, and they worked hard,” Kubrick said.

Ansell plans to continue working on promotions with Kubrick through a summer internship.

“We now have a blueprint for moving forward,” Guzzo said. “A couple years from now, when (the students) are driving past and things are really humming, you'll know you had something to do with it.”

Mazzotta said working on the proposal was especially meaningful to her because she grew up in the city and has relatives who worked at Alcoa.

“I had a connection to it,” she said. “I'm hoping (Kubrick's redevelopment) brings back a little of what once was.”

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.