2013 Pittsburgh Pacesetters

Pittsburgh’s business environment is a diamond in the rough

According to Kiplinger, the city of Pittsburgh might prove to be a diamond in the rough for entrepreneurs — the result of 30 years of human and capital investment and a nurturing environment … an environment in which nine outstanding business leaders — true entrepreneurs — have been able to grow, diversify and succeed. They are the recipients of Smart Business Pittsburgh’s  2013 Pacesetter Awards.

These remarkable men and women, from centurion, mid-size and emerging companies, represent the best our region has to offer in leadership, responsible ownership and diverse enterprise as well as courageous risk-taking. Each is profiled in this issue of Smart Business and was recognized at the 27th annual St. Barnabas CEO Leadership Conference on Sept. 23 in the Kean Theatre on St. Barnabas’ North Hills campus.

The theme of the 2013 conference was Entrepreneurs: Thriving or Surviving? A century ago western Pennsylvania was a hotbed for entrepreneurship and venture capital, leading to U.S. Steel, Alcoa, PPG Industries, Gulf Oil and Westinghouse. It was here that the Bessemer furnace was installed at great risk and expense to make steel … here that the first radio station, KDKA, set up shop … here where one of the first black newspapers, The Pittsburgh Courier, thrived … where Fred Rogers’ creative children’s program “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” came to life. 

Yet today, some say Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania lag behind many U.S. cities and states in entrepreneurship and related growth. But, what of the current Marcellus Shale activities and innovative computer program ventures?

Nationally, Pennsylvania’s ranking among the states with the most thriving startup communities is not impressive, according to Scott Case, CEO of Startup America Partnership. According to the rankings, Pennsylvania is 43rd with Florida on top and West Virginia at the bottom.

But Bill Flanagan, vice president of corporate relations for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, points to the nearly $143 million the area raised in startup capital during the first nine months of 2012, and to the area’s research and development funding through Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and other institutions that amounts to $3 billion annually. 

The state of entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania and its economic impact for 2013 and the decade to come were discussed and assessed by an outstanding lineup of speakers: George Davison, founder and CEO of Davison Development Design and Inventionland; J. Christopher Donahue, president of Federated Investors Inc.; John LaCarte, founder and CEO of LaCarte Development Co. and winner of the 2013 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia award; William Generett Jr., president and CEO of Urban Innovation21; Richard Kaminsky, president and CEO of Southwest Subway Inc.; and Catherine V. Mott, CEO of BlueTree Capital Group and BlueTree Allied Angels.

Each speaker spoke personally about his or her entrepreneurship careers — how they got started, seizing opportunities that no one else saw or was willing to try, finding partners who believed in them, embracing strengths and hiring to overcome weaknesses, the importance of staying focused, being ready to turn on a dime, and finally, just doing it!

St. Barnabas is once again proud to partner with Smart Business Pittsburgh on the CEO Leadership Conference for the seventh year. This partnership has enabled the conference to grow in numbers, in scope and in-depth. Our congratulations to all the Pacesetters featured within the pages of this magazine. These men and women are our region’s most significant and precious resource.

William V. Day is president and CEO of St. Barnabas Heath System.


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Lifetime Acheivement