Pittsburgh-Based Firm Started Small, Grew Into A U.S. Job Creator

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fourteen years after Chuck Sanders opened a small storefront in Bellevue providing title and settlement services to people buying houses, that single business has mushroomed into a nationwide empire of about 13 companies, with some 2,400 employees and annual revenues this year that will be in the neighborhood of $200 million.

His flagship company, Urban Lending Solutions, headquartered Downtown in the Federated Investors Tower, provides back office support servicing mortgages for major financial institutions such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and SunTrust.

New York-based Inc. magazine, which publishes an annual list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S., this year ranked Urban Lending Solutions as the eighth-top job creator in the U.S. for creating 1,022 new jobs within the prior 18 months. Black Enterprise Magazine, known for its annual list of the country’s largest African-American owned firms, ranked ULS the nation’s 16th largest with 2012 revenue of $183.5 million.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2013/12/25/Built-on-drive-and-trust-City-based-firm-started-small-grew-into-a-U-S-job-creator/stories/201312250056#ixzz2obVTR97y

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Gas Drilling Adds Fuel To Pittsburgh’s Resurgence

Pittsburgh, once known as America’s Steel City, is laying its Rustbelt heritage to rest by fostering growth in education and health services, while drawing strength from the booming natural-gas industry it keeps at a distance.

Drilling into Marcellus shale deposits is banned in Pittsburgh, yet hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, operations in the countrysiSde nearby have helped bring in jobs and boost demand for office space in Pennsylvania’s second-biggest city.

“Like eds and meds, like steel once was in Pittsburgh, it would be the industry to grow and employ people and turn the economy around,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, 32, said of gas extraction. Nearby drilling can provide a “growth mechanism” the city can use to propel a rebound, he said. The city faced insolvency in late 2003, as the population and employment fell.

Fracking is driving wage, job and population growth, even after health concerns led the City Council to ban it, according to development officials. Wells Fargo & Co. economists recently called Pittsburgh a “logistical hub” for the industry. To fuel the boom, Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, is offering Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, at least $1.65 billion in tax credits to build a gas-fed chemical plant nearby.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-pittsburgh-rebound-20120810,0,3805778.story

First New Businesses Arrive In Arena Zone

English: City of Allentown from east side

Image via Wikipedia

Allentown‘s hockey arena won’t open until at least 2013, but the first of the office employees it is expected to attract have already started to arrive.

More than 70 workers from Lehigh Gas Corp. and West Park Insurance are moving onto Hamilton Street this week, the first trickle of what is projected to be hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of new workers attracted to what city officials hope will become the Lehigh Valley‘s new financial district.

The new companies moved into the Wells Fargo bank building at 702 Hamilton St., the new headquarters for City Center Investment Corp., which was created to develop properties around the proposed hockey arena. A third company, a yet-to-be-named engineering firm, is scheduled to move in early next year.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-arena-center-city-20111221,0,833580.story

Chester’s $500 Million Dollar “Renaissance On The River”

PPL Park during the inaugural match between Ph...

Image via Wikipedia

It all began when PECO Energy closed its inefficient Delaware County Power Plant along the banks of the Delaware River in Chester.  The 400,000 square foot structure and the surrounding site needed some serious clean up.  After all, for most of the last century the 100 acre site was home to a huge coal to steam to electric power plant!  PECO sold 63 acres to Preferred Real Estate Investments (PREI).  They gave the City of Chester seven acres and PECO operates some small peak generating units and a substation on 20 acres.

PECO and PREI spent 1½ years and $10 million dollars on environmental clean up and demolition so that this structure could be turned into a mixed-use Class A office and retail space.  The Wharf at Rivertown is also located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) which gives amazing tax incentives to companies who open a business within its borders. (Pottstown has a KOZ off College Drive).  This project is an example of adaptive reuse.  From 10,000 tons of scrap metal to 20,000 tons of bricks (and everything in between) were recycled in this project.

This $60 million dollar project has 1.4 million square feet of space, two marinas, restaurants and a river walk.  Tenants include Wells Fargo, Synergy, AdminServer, Achristavest and the Power Home Remodeling Group

Also included within the larger Rivertown complex is the $120 million dollar, 18,500-seat, PPL Park.  PPL Park is the home of the Philadelphia Union, a Major League Soccer team, and was financed in part by a $25 million dollar economic revitalization package given by the state of Pennsylvania.  Chester also received another $7 million dollars from the state to be used towards a two-phase project in the Rivertown complex which includes 186 townhouses, 25 apartments, 335,000 square feet of office space, a 200,000 square-foot convention center, 20,000 square feet of retail space and a parking structure for 1,350 cars.  The second half of the project will include 200 apartments, 100,000 square feet of office space and 22,000 square feet of retail space.

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Institution Chester and the 100,000 square-foot Harrah’s Casino and Racetrack are also located within Rivertown.  Originally, this land was part of the Sun Shipbuilding Complex that at one time employed 40,000 people!

The Wharf at Rivertown has added 1,200 jobs to Chester.  It is expected to eventually add 2,500 jobs.  Other projects such as PPL Park, the prison and Harrah’s significantly add to that total.  PPL Park, which opened June 27, 2010, is seen as “the spark” that will ignite a full-scale renaissance of Pennsylvania’s first city, Chester.

Another benefit of this project is that a half mile of riverfront was opened back up to the community after nearly 100 years.

Sounds better than senior rental apartments, now doesn’t it!

Hat tip to Jeff Leflar for suggesting I write about this.