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Top 100 Organizations show region’s eonomic strength

As part of the editorial staff, it would seem that choosing the Top 100 Organizations every year would get easier. But the truth of the matter is this: every year, The Pennsylvania Business Central receives more and more nominations from its 23-county readership area. Which

Healthcare drives economic development in the state

During the past 40 years, the national economy has undergone a transition from high-wage manufacturing jobs to lower-wage service sector jobs. But the healthcare industry offers a number of service jobs that pay above-average wages, and some well above average. In most regions, hospitals are

Q & A: The Rise of the Hospitalist

The field of hospitalist medicine was founded in 1996 when the term “hospitalist” was first coined in the New England Journal of Medicine.  A hospitalist is a medical practitioner whose primary focus is taking care of patients in a hospital setting, with the goal of

Six healthcare information organizations to join statewide exchange this year

Pennsylvania has 11 healthcare information organizations (HIOs), which bring together healthcare stakeholders within a defined geographic area by electronically exchanging patient health information to improve healthcare outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Six of the state’s HIOs recently expressed their intent to connect to the Pennsylvania

Riverfront project begins with planned demolition

CLEARFIELD, PA – The demolition of structures along the Clearfield Riverfront has begun, according to Clearfield County Economic Development Corporation CEO Rob Swales. Tear-down activity is currently taking place at the former Tool Shed site along Market Street. The project is part of the plan

Top 100 Organizations show region’s eonomic strength

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As part of the editorial staff, it would seem that choosing the Top 100 Organizations every year would get easier.

But the truth of the matter is this: every year, The Pennsylvania Business Central receives more and more nominations from its 23-county readership area.

Which means the process of the collecting nominations and obtaining final Top 100 gets more and more difficult.

“Our readers provided an unprecedented number of nominations for our annual Top 100 Organizations,” said Publisher David Wells. “The companies that were chosen represent a diverse group, and we are proud to have them on this year’s list. This year’s nominations were the largest ever received, which made the final selection even more difficult.”

Click here to view the full list of organizations.

Healthcare drives economic development in the state

During the past 40 years, the national economy has undergone a transition from high-wage manufacturing jobs to lower-wage service sector jobs. But the healthcare industry offers a number of service jobs that pay above-average wages, and some well above average.

In most regions, hospitals are the largest employer, based on total headcount including physician group affiliates and outpatient clinics. Hospitals provide jobs not only for highly credentialed physicians, but also for less educated workers looking for opportunities to move up the economic ladder. Forty years ago, this was not the case.

Today, the healthcare industry in Pennsylvania employs nearly a million people, making it the number one employer in the commonwealth, helping to balance many of the lost Rust Belt jobs.

“It’s due to a number of factors, but we cannot downplay the baby boomers and the fact that we have an aging population, which has had a significant impact on the expansion of the healthcare industry in the state,” said Sara Goulet, press secretary at the state Dept. of Labor and Industry.

“While an aging population is found throughout the country, the trend has a greater impact here because we have the third largest 65 and over population in the nation.”

New technology, new medical devices, new treatments and new healthcare models have also spurred the growth of the state’s healthcare industry.

“The healthcare industry is much broader than hospitals, doctors, nurses and medical technicians,” Goulet said.

 

“Our department also includes some occupations outside of the usual players in the healthcare occupational cluster such as home healthcare equipment rental, optical goods stores, ophthalmic goods merchant wholesalers, and druggists.

“A growing number of drug store chains now offer flu shots and have physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners on site who treat minor illnesses. Even Walmart has walk-in clinics, so the trend we see is healthcare spreading out to more players in the state, and that, too, is part of the expansion of the healthcare industry in Pennsylvania,” Goulet added.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show healthcare occupations will experience the largest planned growth of any occupation, expanding by 29 percent from 2010 to 2020. The health care industry recently added an average of 28,000 jobs per month, and healthcare is more recession-proof than many others industries.

Healthcare-related research and development also creates jobs and companies in biotechnology, medical devices and many other areas. U.S. research institutions such as MIT, Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, Pitt and Penn State spend nearly $2,000,000,000 each year on medical, science and engineering R&D.

“The commonwealth is home to several world-class academic research institutions, a talented workforce and a full-spectrum of companies that offer a robust supply chain,” said Heidi Havens, spokesperson for the state Dept. of Community and  Economic Development.

“From pharmaceuticals to medical devices, to the ever-growing population of contract research and contract manufacturing organizations, Pennsylvania is a leader in the life sciences industry sector, employing over 79,000 individuals, who earn over $7.2 billion in wages.”

State funding is also helping Pennsylvania lead in cutting edge healthcare.

“The Geisinger Genomic Medicine Center, a facility that is part of the Geisinger family and is located in Luzerne County, received a $100,000 investment from the Discovered in PA – Developed in PA (D2PA), a state-sponsored economic development program,” Havens said. “This investment will help the facility to build the infrastructure for telemedicine initiatives.”

The Genomic Medicine Center will be home to a world-class, state-of-the-art “Tele-Genomics” facility in the Wilkes-Barre area. Patients will be able to have genomic sequencing completed, interpreted and applied to their healthcare by a team of physician geneticists, genetic counselors, and other medical specialists.

Geisinger will also act as a resource to other institutions, providers, and patients who seek a second opinion, and will invite individuals, healthcare providers, and genomic scientists to participate in efforts to bring diagnostic insight to patient care.

Q & A: The Rise of the Hospitalist

The field of hospitalist medicine was founded in 1996 when the term “hospitalist” was first coined in the New England Journal of Medicine.  A hospitalist is a medical practitioner whose primary focus is taking care of patients in a hospital setting, with the goal of creating more streamlined care for patients by overseeing and coordinating the patient’s care from hospital admission to discharge.

In the past, a patient’s primary care physician or would care for them in the hospital. However, as more and more family doctors and internists began focusing their practice on the office setting, this created a need for a new type of physician who would solely care for patients in the hospital.

Thus, the field of hospitalist medicine came about, and now well over 75 percent of patients at hospitals receive some or all of their medical care from hospitalist physicians and practitioners.

To find out more, Pennsylvania Business Central asked Jonathan Siuta, MD, hospitalist at the Mount Nittany Physician Group, and Jan Fisher, COO of Susquehanna Health, about this growing trend.

Siuta

Siuta

How many hospitalists does your hospital have and how did you recruit them?

Dr. Siuta: We have 13 physicians and three physician assistants in our hospitalist program. Most are board certified in internal medicine, family medicine, and/or pediatrics. Our diverse group of physicians and PAs at Mount Nittany have trained in multiple states and at various medical centers across the country. Some hospitalists originally practiced as primary care physicians and have decided to become full-time hospitalists. Others decided after completing their medical training they wanted to start their professional lives right away working in the hospital rather than an office setting.

Fisher: We have 15 full time hospitalists, three per diem, four physician assistants, and two certified nurse practitioners. Our physician recruitment department recruits hospitalists along with other physicians.

What are advantages to the hospital in having a hospitalist rather than the patient’s primary care physician attend to the patient?

Dr. Siuta: The majority of medical care that patients receive comes from their family doctor or internist in the office setting. However, if an individual needs to be admitted to the hospital, many hospitals like Mount Nittany Medical Center employ hospitalists to take care of those patients, thus allowing the patient’s family doctor to spend more time in his or her office. This can help reduce wait times for office appointments and allow family physicians to devote all of their time to meeting the needs of their patients in the clinic.

Fisher

Fisher

What are advantages to the patient?

Dr. Siuta: Many patients today have numerous and complex medical problems which requires hospitalist physicians to be well-versed in hospital medicine. By possessing a special subset of skills and knowledge, hospitalist physicians and practitioners can attend to the many needs that patients have, which is one of the greatest benefits that hospitalists offer to patients.  Since hospitalists spend all of their time in hospitals, they can respond to emergencies quickly, admit patients from the emergency department expeditiously, speak with the families of patients at any time, and again help coordinate the patient’s care with the medical team which may consist of specialty physicians (example – a cardiologist), physical therapists, dietitians, social workers, and many others.

Fisher: Hospitalists provide inpatient care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there is always a physician in the house to care for our patients.

Studies show that trust in one’s doctor is an important factor in medical outcomes and recovery times. Can hospitalists, whom patients have never met before, gain patient’s trust in the short time the patient stays in the hospital?

Dr. Siuta: Since the hospitalist physician does not have a strict office schedule to follow, this allows for a considerable amount of flexibility in the hospitalist’s daily routine.  Because of this flexibility, hospitalists are able to meet with patients and their families to discuss a wide variety of important issues and concerns including end-of-life care, whether to place a loved one in a nursing home, etc.  I believe that many hospitalists gain the trust of patients and their families – despite short stays in the hospital – because of the ability to address these sensitive and incredibly difficult topics and concerns.

Fisher: We created information cards that primary care patients use in a face to face discussion with their patients to educate patients about the role of a hospitalist in their care in the event the individual is ever hospitalized. Our hospitalists have access to an electronic medical record to review the patient’s entire medical history, and they collaborate closely with the patient’s primary care physician.

How is the patient’s primary care physician kept in the loop about his/her patient’s condition while in the hospital?

Dr. Siuta: The hospitalist sends a detailed summary of the patient’s hospitalization to the patient’s family doctor or internist upon the patient’s discharge.  Furthermore, the hospitalist communicates as needed with the patient’s family doctor through other means including direct communication by phone, faxing of important information, mail, and in some cases even secure email.  These various forms of communication help provide seamless care as the patient transitions from the hospital back to the patient’s medical home – the primary care provider’s office.  For example, when the patient is ready to be sent home, all medical record information, treatment needs, dietary concerns, medication information and much more is communicated with the family doctor so that there is no lapse in care.  Patients will then continue to follow-up with their family doctor or internist, and in many cases a specialist physician, after they leave the hospital.

Fisher: When the patient is first admitted, an automated system sends the primary care physician an alert that one of their patients was admitted along with the diagnosis. Ongoing collaboration occurs via telephone and the electronic medical record to discuss continuity of care.

According to salary.com, the median salary for hospitalists is $206, 480 vs. $183,175 for primary care physicians. What else besides a higher salary draws doctors to the job of hospitalist? 

Dr. Siuta: Choosing to go into the field of hospitalist medicine is a very personal decision. In our program, for example, we work 12-hour shifts for seven days straight. By working this type of schedule there is a considerable amount of continuity of care for patients.  This, in turns, allows the hospitalist physician to get to know the patient and his or her family quite well during that week.  Following our week of work, we then have seven days off.

Many hospitalists enjoy this “block scheduling” because it allows the physician to spend a long stretch of time with his or her family, gives ample opportunity to maintain a proper work-life balance, allows physicians to do volunteer work or pursue other personal interests, and gives physicians time to maintain their own health and well-being.

Six healthcare information organizations to join statewide exchange this year

Pennsylvania has 11 healthcare information organizations (HIOs), which bring together healthcare stakeholders within a defined geographic area by electronically exchanging patient health information to improve healthcare outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Thompson

Thompson

Six of the state’s HIOs recently expressed their intent to connect to the Pennsylvania eHealth Partnership Authority’s statewide electronic health information exchange (eHIE) in 2015. A seventh HIO, St. Luke’s University Health Network’s eVantageHealth, which operates in eight counties in the eastern part of the state, connected to eHIE last year. Jointure will enable the HIOs to share patient health information with each other through a single state-run gateway.

A significant factor in the success and sustainability of Pennsylvania’s eHIE is the ability of hospitals and physicians to connect to and transmit information through the state network. This effort was aided by grants made available through the Obama administration’s Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, which allocated more than $19 billion for hospitals and physicians to convert their paper records to electronic health records in the past five years.

According to the Department of Labor & Industry, 80 percent of physicians now use IT to access medical records, 87 percent use it to obtain information about treatments, and 74 percent use it to exchange clinical data and images with hospitals and laboratories.

“Today, the use of EHRs is so widespread, the time is ripe to pull these disparate HIOs together into one statewide health information exchange. Wherever a patient travels in Pennsylvania, doctors will have access to the patient’s health records in case of accidents or other health emergencies,” David Grinberg, deputy director of the PA eHealth Partnership Authority, said.

Grinberg

Grinberg

“Our goal is to get 75 percent of all of the Pennsylvania hospitals that participated in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program connected to the statewide network by the end of the year.”

The newest HIO in Pennsylvania is the Mount Nittany Health Information Organization, which includes Mount Nittany Physician Group, the Mount Nittany Medical Center, Hershey Medical Center, Geisinger, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, and a number of smaller providers including skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

“Ultimately, our goal is to get the right information to the right place at the right time so we can provide high quality care for our patients, and in many cases that information comes from a combination of sources,” said Wayne Thompson, MS, executive vice president and chief information officer for Mount Nittany Health.

“The more complete picture we can form of a patient’s healthcare, the better informed decisions we’re able to make at the point of care, and by not duplicating tests or procedures, we also save on healthcare costs.”

Patients can opt out of the HIO. With last year’s high profile hacking of JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Target, Sony, and this month, Anthem, the nation’s second-biggest health insurer, patients and pundits are questioning the effectiveness of the private sector’s information security.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of breaches in the healthcare industry in the last three years have outnumbered those in other industries, with healthcare organizations making up 43 percent of IT security breaches in 2014. Healthcare information is worth as much as 10 times more than credit card numbers on the black market due to the opportunity for insurance fraud and other personal information healthcare companies collect for identification and payment purposes.

“Cyber security is a chief concern for everybody in healthcare,” Thompson said.

“We’re covered by HIPPA security and privacy regulations that proscribe a number of safeguards we need to put in place for the organization, and we also adhere to best practices around online security and privacy, plus we have a designated chief privacy officer and a chief information officer.

“With all that said, I don’t think any entity, private or public, that transmits information online is impervious to a sustained effort by hackers, but unless patients feel secure about us transmitting their health information online, we won’t be able to achieve the optimal healthcare and cost savings that networking with other HIOs allows.”

Riverfront project begins with planned demolition

CLEARFIELD, PA – The demolition of structures along the Clearfield Riverfront has begun, according to Clearfield County Economic Development Corporation CEO Rob Swales.

Tear-down activity is currently taking place at the former Tool Shed site along Market Street.

The project is part of the plan to connect the Market and Nichols Street bridges with a one-mile loop. Its development will occur over three phases throughout the remainder of this year.

Demolition has began to remove properties near Clearfield Borough's Market Street Bridge to make room for the proposed Clearfield Riverfront Project.

Demolition has began to remove properties near Clearfield Borough’s Market Street Bridge to make room for the proposed Clearfield Riverfront Project. (photo provided)

The first phase, Swales said, will be the development of Market Square. This site will house a large, two-story structure with potential of being up to 10,000 square feet per floor, depending on costs, attracting a private developer and anchor tenant.

The CCEDC is pursuing developers for revitalizing the former Tool Shed site with a boutique-style hotel to showcase as an anchor facility along the Susquehanna River, Swales said.

Swales added that the CCEDC is in the final stages of assembling the Riverwalk and Park construction plans for public solicitation next month.

Plans call for the construction of a one-mile Riverwalk loop to connect the Nichols and Market Street Bridges, as well as for a public park at the former Novey Recycling site at the intersection of West Front and West Pine streets.

“This will be a wonderful asset to central Pennsylvania and we look forward to bringing the first stage of the Riverwalk redevelopment initiative to fruition,” Swales said in a statement.

According to Swales, solicitation for public bids is scheduled to begin Feb. 17. Bids will be due to the CCEDC office by 2 p.m. March 17. Upon favorable review, Swales said that he anticipates for the project to commence in April.

Interested contractors are asked to contact the CCEDC office for additional details.

DelGrosso’s Amusement Park releases growth plans

TIPTON, PA – The owners and management team of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park are excited to announce two very large investments in the growth and expansion of the area’s premier water and amusement park.

The Rock Star is a new ride coming to the park this summer.

The ride will be placed in the park beside the “La Famiglia Gift Shop”. Offering a new thrill element, the half-million dollar ‘Rock Star’ will join the park’s other 30 rides and attractions.

An artist's rendering of the new water park expansion to begin this year.

An artist’s rendering of the new water park expansion to begin this year. (photo provided)

The Rock Star is a thrill ride that elevates riders 55′ above the midway, on top of a flying platform. Attached to a swinging arm that looks like the neck of a guitar, The Rock Star gives riders a unique free-fall experience as the platform whisks toward the ground after making a full circular, clockwise motion. The ride is complete with a spectacular LED light show and will seat 22 riders.

Ground breaking for a water park expansion will take place in early 2015 for a water park and front entrance expansion project that is expected for completion by Memorial Day Weekend 2016. This $12.5 million project is the largest in the Park’s 68 year history.

A new wave pool and lazy river will be added to the current Tipton Waterworks and Rapids Water Park. The entire water park will get a new name and theme. “Laguna Splash” will be an Italian-themed water park. In addition to the new wave pool and lazy river, guests will enjoy various Italian themed water features like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, tipping buckets and vases, and various other interactive water features.

Studies show that water is a big draw for family fun, as more guests are able to participate in water activities. The Laguna Splash Water Park will offer something new, to bring guests of all ages to the park to enjoy a longer stay.

In keeping with the DelGrosso Family tradition of high quality food, the new water park expansion project will also include three new food venues. These include an Italian themed pasta area that will feature sauces from DelGrosso Foods and other Italian specialty dishes. A new steak shop will carry Philadelphia-style cheesesteaks, and a grill building, which will be located on an island near the lazy river, will feature char-grilled chicken, hamburgers, and hotdogs.

The expansion project is expected to create approximately 100-130 seasonal jobs in addition to the current 550 seasonal employees that the park hires each year. Roughly half of the new employees will be lifeguards for the water park expansion. In preparation for the expansion, three full-time employees have already been added to the staff and one more full-time employee will be added once the new addition is open.

Construction for the new water park and park entrance will begin in early 2015. This will mean a new temporary entrance will be in place for the 2015 season. Construction zone signs will be up around the park helping to direct park guests.

The current water and ride park will still be in operation for summer of 2015, but guests will have to pardon the appearance of the construction areas. This large project will require construction work to be completed during the summer of 2015 and throughout early 2016.

The existing Go-Kart Speedway Track and Miniature Golf Course will be removed to make room for this new and exciting water park expansion.

 

Demolition of former Howe’s Leather site near completion

CURWENSVILLE, PA – Earthmovers Unlimited Inc. of Kylertown is almost finished with a $1.2 million demolition of tannery infrastructure and removal of residual waste material at the former Howe’s Leather Company here.

The tannery operated from 1900 to 2003 on a 26.5-acre site in the Curwensville Industrial Park. Howe’s Leather shut its doors due to lack of business and a bankruptcy filing.

On March 14, 2014, the CCEDC officially received the title to the property. The $1.2 million  demolition bid was later awarded to Earthmovers.

The demolition process included mobilization and site preparation; sludge excavation; sludge placement and mine reclamation; demolition of the former tannery demolition; and sludge lagoon impoundment restoration.

Located on Cooper Road directly behind the Curwensville Area Jr./Sr. High School and elementary school, the property has been an eyesore and possible environmental hazard for years, despite the prohibitive chain link fencing around the property.

The existing concrete foundations and exposed rebar were a two-fold safety concern: high walls and steep drop-offs with retaining stagnant water that fostered possible West Nile virus and a potential hazard to personal injury and accidental drowning.

“Everything should be done by the end of the month,” Swales said. “The sludge reclamation part is done this week and they’re concentrating on backfilling the site for the remainder of the month of February.

“The next part of activity is demolition of the old administrative buildings,” Swales added.

An arson fire had a head-start on the demolition on May 2, 2014. A blaze ripped through two structures previously used as offices, which were heavily damaged.

Once the project is completed, Swales said the replenished site will be once again suitable for commercial and industrial development for the Curwensville community. Six to eight parcels of land will be subdivided and will provide opportunities to sustain 5,000 to 20,000 square-foot business facilities.

Additionally, Swales said conservative figures show new business development on the sites will not only create jobs in the area, it will increase local real estate tax revenues by at least $120,000 total for the county, borough and school district.

“We have to go through some master site planning so we can offer that property for sale for industrial development,” Swales said of future plans for the property.  “We haven’t started marketing because we’re not complete with the cleanup there,” Swales explained. “We have to see what all of our costs will be.”

2015 Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference forecasts growth

PITTSBURGH, PA – Hart Energy hosted its largest audience for a midstream conference on Jan. 27-29 when  the 2015 Marcellus-Utica Midstream conference and exhibition (MUM) came to town.

Attendees at the 2015 MUM Conference in Pittsburgh fill the David L. Lawrence Convention Center last month.

Attendees at the 2015 MUM Conference in Pittsburgh fill the David L. Lawrence Convention Center last month. (photo courtesy of Hart Energy)

More than 2,100 individuals — a nearly 20 percent increase from last year – visited the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh 29 to hear from midstream sector leaders.

“It’s been exciting to see six years of success for this conference focused on the Appalachian region,”

said Barry Haest, Hart Energy’s vice president of events. “Hart Energy will continue to provide value to

industry professionals who need current and accurate data, intelligence, and contacts.”

Spectra Energy Vice President Brian McKerlie told attendees the industry will create supply opportunities and demand will grow on its own.

Other enlightening speakers included EnLink Midstream President and CEO Barry Davis and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners Vice President Karen Kabin.

Davis, CEO of EnLink Midstream Partners LP, was the opening keynote speaker focusing on Appalachia’s Continuing Grown. EdLink Midsteam has an expanding presence in the Utica and Marcellus plays through its Ohio River Valley operations. Davis provided insights on what he sees ahead for the region.

Barry Davis, CEO of EnLink Midstream Partners LP, was the opening keynote speaker focusing on Appalachia's Continuing Grown. Davis provided insights on what he sees ahead for the region.

Barry Davis, CEO of EnLink Midstream Partners LP, was the opening keynote speaker focusing on Appalachia’s Continuing Grown. Davis provided insights on what he sees ahead for the region. (photo courtesy of Hart Energy)

John Kneiss, Director of Governmental Affairs at Stratas Advisors provided a Regulatory & Policy Update. With the congressional elections just completed and a presidential election next year, the industry’s regulatory environment is in flux. Attendees learned how the midstream sector will likely be affected.

Kabin, Vice President of Business Development at Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., reviewed the market for the region’s growing gas and gas liquids production—and Kinder Morgan’s own organic growth plans to connect producer and consumer.

Prospective attendees can mark their calendars for January 26-28, 2016 when the MUM conference and exhibition returns to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Hart Energy will also offer the DUG East conference and exhibition in the same venue on June 23-25, 2015.

Every DUG event delivers a highly effective mix of data, insight and forecasts about financing, exploration, drilling, production, and delivery; presented by esteemed industry leaders.

The Reshoring Initiative

Manufacturing in Pennsylvania continues to face tough challenges

 

On Jan. 15 and 16, Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative in Chicago, spoke for four hours at the Holiday Inn Express in State College about bringing back the manufacture of products to the United States. Moser’s visit was organized by Pittsburgh-based Catalyst Connection for the Northeast Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (IRC) in Wilkes-Barre.

He said he came to the state to train IRC members and economic developers to demonstrate how to work with area companies on how to identify where they are having problems with offshoring, such as quality and delivery.

Moser

Moser

Offshoring is a company’s relocation of a business process from one country to another—typically an operational process, such as manufacturing, or supporting processes like accounting. Reshoring is the return of those companies to the United States.

“I also came to help them find Pennsylvania suppliers who could provide better service, and in the case of energy intensive industries, to help them realize the cost savings of using natural gas in their manufacturing operations,” Moser said. “The ultimate goal is to get companies who offshore products to recognize that even though the price is higher here, the total cost of production might not be when they figure in all the relevant factors including the cost of energy, transportation, and securing their intellectual property.”

To assist companies with deciding whether or not reshoring is worthwhile or to use as a sales tool to convince customers to buy domestically, the Reshoring Initiative offers a free Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) estimator on its Website. User data suggests 25 percent of what has been offshored should return if companies use TCO instead of price for sourcing decisions.

The Website also has a reshoring library containing more than 1,400 related articles. The library can be used to identify companies and industries that are reshoring and to see which of a company’s competitors are reshoring and why.

A new Ford Fusion on the assembly line in Detroit. These vehicles had previously been manufactured in Mexico.

A new Ford Fusion on the assembly line in Detroit. These vehicles had previously been manufactured in Mexico. (photo provided)

Since January 2010, between 300 and 400 large companies have reshored at least some of their manufacturing operations to the nation, Moser said. Out of the 750,000 jobs gained in manufacturing since 2010, about 140,000 jobs were from reshoring. Sixty percent of those reshored jobs were from manufacturers that had moved to China.

Some of those manufacturers were companies that produce raw materials, OEMs and branded companies such as GM, Ford, Caterpillar, and GE.

For example, GE returned its Chinese-made water heater manufacturing to Kentucky, and Ford moved its Fusion auto manufacturing from Mexico to Detroit – resulting in 1,200 jobs.

Chrysler not only returned vehicles to the United States, but also its current marketing slogan: Imported from Detroit.

“There’s also foreign direct investments in U.S. manufacturers by international conglomerates, and they do it for the same reason as the American companies, because of rising wages overseas and higher transportation costs now make producing consumer goods near the customer and near the supply chain more appealing,” Moser explained. “Today, it gets hard to tell the difference between foreign direct investments and reshoring, they’re just different labels on the company.”

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in U.S. businesses reached $2.7 trillion at the end of 2012, which is equivalent to about 16 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Last year, Chinese overseas investment in the U.S. and other countries surpassed foreign direct investment into China.

Moser also is willing to bet that thousands of suppliers are also coming back to the U.S.

“When you bring back and automobile or refrigerator, the manufacturer has to buy fabricated metal parts, pumps, wire harnesses and other parts,” said Moser. “Typically, though not always, when the assembly comes back onshore, so does the component sourcing.”

Nationwide, manufacturing added an average of 16,000 jobs per month in 2014, compared with an average gain of 7,000 jobs per month in 2013. Pennsylvania, however, lost 6,600 manufacturing jobs from January to November. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Pennsylvania manufacturing gained 2,000 jobs in December.

“December’s numbers are hopefully a sign of recovery, and while cheap energy is a big draw to some manufacturers, the most important thing Pennsylvania needs to sustain growth is a better business climate,” said Tom Palisin, executive director of the Manufacturers’ Association of South Central Pennsylvania in York.

“I think the new governor and the state legislators should take a serious look at the tax structure and the regulatory structure in Pennsylvania and figure out how they can make our state more competitive, not only for manufacturers looking to reshore or expand into the state, but also for retaining manufacturing jobs already here that are in danger of being lost.

“Pennsylvania has the second highest corporate net income tax in the nation at 9.9 percent. So when you hear about the commonwealth falling near the bottom of the list of states in job growth, it’s not surprising.”

One challenge that the manufacturing sector faces is the general belief that the jobs are low-paying and menial.

“Skilled manufacturing technologists, especially those that have passed an apprenticeship, are extremely well-trained, work in their area of training and earn an income at least comparable to university graduates,” said Moser.

Another challenge Pennsylvania faces is the workforce for manufacturing is significantly older than the general workforce, with many baby boomers retiring.

“Boomers had delayed retiring because of the recession, but now they’re in a position to start retiring, and they will be difficult to replace because the younger labor force in Pennsylvania lacks higher skilled technical workers such as computer numeric controlled machine operators.

“To get a true picture of job growth in manufacturing, you can’t only look at the new jobs, but the backfilling of experienced workers that’s going to have a really big impact on manufacturing over the next 10 to 15 years as baby boomers retire.”

“Green Corridors” for natural gas vehicles growing

When EQT Corp. opened a public-access compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Pittsburgh in July 2011, it was hoping to spark a revolution that would lead to greater energy independence for Americans.

The goal of the natural gas industry is to create “green corridors” for natural gas vehicles (NGVs), with one station placed about every 50 miles, or within two miles of designated highways.

With the assistance of a $700,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), EQT built the $2.3 million CNG station in Pittsburgh’s historic strip district, which is located near a number of fleets that could take advantage of the fuel savings offered by conversion to CNG.

A Giant Eagle truck driver is pictured filling his CNG-fueled tractor-trailer at one of Giant Eagle's CNG Stations in Crafton.

A Giant Eagle truck driver is pictured filling his CNG-fueled tractor-trailer at one of Giant Eagle’s CNG stations in Crafton. (photo provided)

“Building the station was about bringing supply and demand together, the so-called ‘chicken and egg problem’ by providing a test bed for companies looking to try CNG,” said David Ross, VP of Demand Development at EQT.

“It’s tough for most fleet owners to jump in with both feet, buy CNG trucks and install a private CNG station in the yard since it involves a considerable investment,” Ross continued. “We thought having a public-access station would help companies in the region try local compressed natural gas as an alternative to gasoline and diesel, and decide if they wanted to convert their fleet before committing themselves.”

According to a 2014 report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, costs for installing a CNG fueling station can range near $2 million, depending on the size and application.

The first to use CNG at EQT’s station with a converted truck was a trucking company in the strip district. Today, that company is in the process of converting its entire fleet to CNG.

“Having a public-access CNG station, the company was able to try CNG on one of their trucks, figure out how it works in their operation, and then implement CNG into their fleet,” said Ross.

EQT expanded the station by adding two additional dispensers on another island to make it easier for larger vehicles to access the station.

Pictured is EQT's CNG station in Pittsburgh

Pictured is EQT’s CNG station in Pittsburgh. (photo provided)

“We had seen an increase in CNG fueling until more CNG stations opened in the region,” said Ross.

On July 14, 2011, Giant Eagle opened two CNG stations in Crafton, Allegheny County, to fuel 10 new CNG-equipped Giant Eagle delivery trucks.

In May 2013, the former Exxon station in Station Square became Pittsburgh’s second compressed natural gas station with the help of state funding.

On Sept. 9, 2013, Giant Eagle and Peoples Natural Gas partnered to open a CNG station at the GetGo station in Cranberry Township in Butler County on state Route 228.

In August 2013, Cabot Oil & Gas opened a CNG fueling station in Springville, Susquehanna County. Cabot is using the station to fuel its fleet of 60 CNG vehicles and to power equipment on their own development sites.

In October 2013, a CNG station opened a facility in Bentleyville, Washington County. The station was a joint venture between Washington-based Shale Hotels Inc. and Coolspring-based “O” Ring CNG Fuel Systems LP, which builds stations.

EQT is also fueling the revolution from the demand side by promoting the use of natural gas fleet vehicles, including its own, and now operates 15 percent of its light-duty vehicle fleet — about 180 vehicles — on natural gas.

“As our own transition continues, we are also working with other organizations to encourage infrastructure expansion so more new CNG fueling stations become available to fleets and the general public,” Ross said.

The national CNG revolution has just begun. Although 25 percent of America’s overall energy use comes from natural gas, less than 0.1 percent is currently used for transportation.

According to GE, only about 250,000 of the 15.2 million CNG vehicles worldwide are found in the nation, with 1,525 CNG stations nationwide. CNG vehicles and stations are commonplace in Iran, Pakistan and Argentina.