A former neighbor of mine had been standing atop a steel beam, working with a team of ironworkers who were building a new cinema in North Versailles. This 41-year-old father of four, a talented craftsman, had been doing that kind of work for years, and was satisfied with staying behind the scenes as he contributed to the commercial growth and prosperity of the region.
Certainly, the companies commissioning the building remain in the forefront when it comes to who gets credit for the regions economic prosperity, even if folks such as Tom Speakman, my former neighbor, are quietly responsible for the work behind it. Maybe he hadnt even thought about how he was contributing to the region as he gazed from several stories above the growing development around him that day. He was just doing his job, like the countless others responsible for facilitating the regions current building boom.
Sadly, the work he did for that cinema became his final contribution. That day, he lost his footing ... and his life.
Building and expansion are serious businesses. Its more than just quality of life or well-planned urban sprawl. Its about entrepreneurs risking their life savings, their homes and their professional reputations to follow their dreams. Its about bankers and angel investors and venture capitalists risking millions of dollars to bankroll those dreams.
And its just as much about the ironworkers, masons, carpenters, electricians and building suppliers who often risk their lives on behalf of economic growth.
Unfortunately, such risks are necessary to build cities the size and stature of Pittsburgh and keep them growing and prospering. Unless your company is participating in such growth and expansion, it likely wont survive long enough to enjoy the long-term fruits of the regions labors.
Thanks to such risk takers, these are exciting times in the Pittsburgh region. Quality of life is being boosted immensely with two new stadiums, a new downtown theater, renovated loft and office space throughout downtown Pittsburgh, a new convention center, and all of the riverfront development, not to mention the road improvements and new highways connecting the regions far reaches to metropolitan Pittsburgh.
Then theres the Airport Corridor with its new hotels and retailers, and Southpointe in Washington County. Murrysville, Monroeville and other points east are celebrating dramatic growth. Even the outer counties, such as Armstrong, Indiana, Westmoreland and Butler, are seeing their share of building and expansion.
As John Bonassi, director of business development for Dick Corp., notes, The construction industry in the region is enjoying its most robust level of activity in 10 years. He expects that to continue for at least another two to three years.
Just as important, says Brooks Robinson Sr., head of the Regional Industrial Development Corp. (RIDC), Its a lot of commercial and business; its not just stadiums.
This special supplement takes a look at some of the more practical aspects of building and expansion, from deciding whether to serve as your own general contractor to incorporating green design into your next expansion. Its full of helpful resources, including a listing of state funding sources and a host of advertisers ready to supply your next building project.
But as you think of the practical, lets not forget the souls behind the scenes whose efforts turn your dreams into the monuments of growth and prosperity we collectively call Pittsburgh. To the Tom Speakmans of this region, I salute you. May your legacy live on in the growth and prosperity you leave behind.
Dan Bates (email@example.com) is editor of SBN.