When the youthful founders of high-tech wonder FreeMarkets Inc. took their company public recently, the business community watched in awe as the day’s stock price skyrocketed to $280 a share. Rarely do you see such an opening. And in Pittsburgh, of all places.
But why is this so surprising to Pittsburghers? The fact that this could happen in a city which still fights its image as a smoggy steel town may prove nothing short of amazing to some, but not to the entrepreneurs, government leaders and civic leaders in this special feature.
While some business owners keep their heads down and work hard just to make a living, others like the 55 people we’re honoring in this issue are doing everything in their power to make sure the region prospers. These are the ones who give of their time and money to make sure people receive the entrepreneurial help that they need. These are the people who make sure the region becomes an attractive, nurturing place with a quality of life that makes aggressive entrepreneurs such as FreeMarkets’ Glen Meakem want to stay here instead of moving to the Silicon Valley.
These are the visionaries who see the Pittsburgh region for what it could be and not for what it was. Some have succeeded and are giving back. Others see themselves as missionaries who want this region to thrive. Whatever the case, these are Pittsburgh’s Pacesetters.
For every person listed, a dozen more labor behind the scenes to make sure entrepreneurs get the help they need. They are the unsung heroes in this quest to build and nurture a world-class region. We couldn’t possibly recognize them all, and we no doubt have missed even some higher-profile visionaries.
But our point is this: Great regions don’t just happen. Business and civic leaders have to work together, reaching far beyond the boundaries of their own companies or organizations to build and nurture the region. Our hats go off to these 55 and the countless others who put in the time and money necessary to make the region strong.
These are Pittsburgh’s Pacesetters.
Mulugetta Birru, executive director, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh
Behind many of the biggest economic development projects in Pittsburgh today is the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, buying up land and buildings and working out funding deals to rehab old buildings, build new ones, and generally foster new growth in areas needing revitalization.
Leading many of those efforts is Mulugetta Birru, head of this 50-year-old government-funded economic development agency. This native Ethiopian businessman has been directing those aggressive efforts since 1992, when he took over the agency’s top post after a stint as head of a community development agency in Homewood-Brushton. Today, he oversees more than 100 employees and an administrative budget of more than $6.6 million.
Carol Brown, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
No city can hope to be world class without a healthy core of performing arts, and no city can expect to become an arts center without a solid financial base. Few understand that better than Carol Brown, president of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust since 1986. (See related feature at the beginning of this month’s Managing Your Business section.)
Brown has combined a sharp business sense and a passion for the arts to help shape the revamping of the Cultural District and restore and preserve historical sites. The feathers in the trust’s cap are the O’Reilly Theater, the new home for the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Benedum Center and the Harris Theater, to name just a few.
Tony Bucci, Marc Advertising
While other agencies have faltered, merged with small local competitors or been acquired by out-of-town shops, Tony Bucci has built MARC Advertising into an ad house that boasts more than $500 million in billings, the biggest in town. Recognizing that trying to grow MARC simply by adding local accounts was unrealistic, Bucci has led the agency on an aggressive track of acquiring agencies outside of Pittsburgh.
In recent years, MARC has landed agencies in New York, Chicago and Dallas, and plans to establish a presence in virtually every major U.S. market. While ad accounts migrate to agencies outside the city, MARC brings in dollars from outside the region and keeps some large clients, like Mellon Bank, in the hands of a local creative shop.
William Byham, president and CEO, Development Dimensions International
Running a successful business means managing money, processes and people. With a shrinking pool of qualified workers expected for the foreseeable future, companies will need better strategies to attract, hire and retain the best employees. William Byham, president and CEO of the company that he and Douglas Bray started in 1970, has written the book, literally, on the people part. “Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment,” has been a perennial business bestseller since it was published in 1988, as has “HeroZ Empower Yourself, Your Co-Workers, and Your Company.”
Byham has done all of this while building DDI into an international human resources, training and consulting firm that has brought international attention to Pittsburgh. He topped that off by becoming a key benefactor in the effort to bring back to life the old vaudeville theatre in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District which, after millions of dollars in renovations, is called, appropriately, the Byham Theatre.
Glen Chatfield, veteran high-tech entrepreneur
These days, Glen Chatfield stays out of the limelight, quietly investing in companies, developing new technologies and indulging his desire to commercialize a new two-cycle engine for motorcycles. But you can’t ignore his impact on the region as a high-tech entrepreneurial pioneer. He and his partners built up Duquesne Systems in the 1970s, making millionaires of a large handful of employees and creating the large Legent Corp.
His legacy isn’t the company that still exists in some form, but rather the many entrepreneurs he spawned and nurtured who are becoming part of the growth engine. He was an entrepreneurial pioneer, shadowed only by the success of Fore Systems and, now, FreeMarkets Inc.
Mark Coticchia, director of technology transfer, Carnegie Mellon University
Keeping high-tech start-ups in Pittsburgh has been a concern, but coming up with ideas to spawn them hasn’t been. Computer science powerhouse Carnegie Mellon University has long been coming up with dazzling technology, but not until relatively recently has it been active in turning those ideas into businesses.
Since 1993, Mark Coticchia has been leading the charge to turn digits into dollars, helping aspiring entrepreneurs with everything from writing business plans to finding capital and hiring talent. Highlights of Coticchia’s tenure at CMU have been leading Lycos Inc., WiseWire Inc. and Islip Media, now MediaSite Inc., out of the university and into the marketplace.
Illana Diamond, president, Sima Product Corp.
Illana Diamond has been a somewhat reluctant, yet successful, entrepreneur. She had a promising career under way at accounting firm Price Waterhouse when she left to take over the reins of her late father’s company, Sima Product Corp. After three years of serving on the board and trying to move the company forward with little success, Diamond took over and moved Sima Products to Pittsburgh from Chicago in 1993.
Under her leadership, the Oakmont company has expanded its line of consumer electronics products, reduced its operating costs and joined the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse initiative. An avid booster of entrepreneurship, particularly among women, Diamond is one of the founders of PowerLink, an organization of business leaders who lend their expertise as board members to women-owned businesses.
Linda Dickerson, principal, Dickerson & Mangus
For nearly 15 years, Linda Dickerson monitored and documented the region’s business ups and downs in the pages of her business magazine, Executive Report. In late 1998, she donated the publication to the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, which turned it into Pittsburgh Prospects. Still, the contacts she established and her leadership in the business community are what mattered most to her and what she carries on today.
She serves actively on the boards of a host of economic development, cultural and nonprofit organizations, “just trying to make a difference.” She continues to voice her perspective on the region’s business health in her weekly column in the business pages of the Sunday Pittsburgh Post Gazette. In her spare time, she works with public relations industry veteran Pat Mangus representing cultural and economic development organizations in the region and beyond.
Ann Dugan, director, Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh
Like her counterparts at Duquesne University, St. Vincent College and Clarion University, among others, Ann Dugan has helped transform what began as a small government-funded program to help small businesses into a powerful catalyst for economic growth in the region. She is head of the newly formed Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, which not only includes the Small Business Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh, but also an Entrepreneurial Fellows program and a membership-driven Family Enterprise Center.
All three programs, which she runs out of Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business, are designed to provide hands-on entrepreneurial education for business owners who are striving for aggressive growth but don’t have the luxury of taking time off to go to graduate school.
Arguably the most visible African-American entrepreneur in Pittsburgh, Eddie Edwards is a hard-driving advocate nationally for minority ownership of broadcasting companies. Edwards, who became owner of then-WPTT-TV in 1991 in a complex and sometimes controversial deal, has agreed to sell his interest in the station, now WCWB-TV, as well as his stake in Glencairn Ltd., to Sinclair Broadcast Group.
He plans to devote time to developing a company to produce programming for TV stations, and to his Edwards Broadcasting, a company formed to acquire radio stations. Among his most notable contributions to the region’s growth is his weekly program, “Eddie’s Digest,” which typically features a panel of the region’s minority leaders who discuss a wide range of issues facing the region.
Rock Ferrone, president and CEO, Rock-Built Inc. and Rock-Port
Rock Ferrone and his ongoing inventiveness and entrepreneurial vision may have gone virtually unno
ticed in this region had it not been for the fact that he recently got tired of driving across the state to meet with customers and didn’t like to spend the time or money flying commercial airlines. Instead, he bought a small plane, earned his pilot’s license, and then bought himself a small public-use airport in West Deer to accommodate his flying.
But he couldn’t stop there. He wants to relocate his printing equipment manufacturing company there, next to the runway, and he figures other business owners would want to do the same. So he convinced local and state authorities to turn the airport and surrounding acreage into a tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zone for the next 11 years. Now the state is turning this 36-year-old entrepreneur into its poster boy for general aviation as a catalyst for growth in the state. Now he’s flying high.
Bill Flanagan, business reporter, KDKA-TV
When it comes to local business coverage on the tube, “Dollar Bill” Flanagan is the undisputed champ. Flanagan provides insightful, comprehensive treatment of the business issue of the day and what it means to Pittsburgh and features about economic development and snazzy new companies in a way that makes it simple to understand, even if you don’t have an MBA.
His Sunday morning program provides an interesting look at the local business scene, and his personal finance column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers basic but valuable tips for sound money management. Here’s hoping he has plenty of good news to report.
Tom Golonski, president and CEO, National City Bank of Pennsylvania
Cleveland-based National City Bank has established itself as the top SBA lender in Pennsylvania, no small feat for a bank that competes with Mellon and PNC, as well as with Philadelphia’s banks. National City attributes much of its success in helping to grow the region’s business economy to the high level of local control it allows its Pittsburgh operations.
With Tom Golonski at the helm as president and CEO, there is little doubt that having a local banker with solid experience in the region’s banking market has been a strong card. National City plays to its strengths a large network of branch offices and a strong commercial loan portfolio, even though it has pared back its staff since acquiring Integra in 1995.
Doug Goodall, president, Innovation Works
When the Ben Franklin Technology Center of Western Pennsylvania was beset by scandal last year, no one thought it would be easy to polish the reputation of the entrepreneurial funding assistance organization. Doug Goodall, who took the job as interim director and was later appointed permanently, has led the organization under a new name, Innovation Works, and helped put in place a new management team.
The messy scandal that plagued Ben Franklin beginning in the summer of 1998 had been cleaned up by the following spring, and by last October, Innovation Works was able to begin doing what it was designed to do: Invest in promising technology ventures and nurture them to success.
Henry Hillman, one of the richest men in the United States, has always shunned the spotlight, satisfied to let his politically powerful wife, Elsie, take the lead in Republican politics both locally and nationally. For years, this low-profile financier has invested in a host of companies and real estate.
Lately, though, while evolving into something considerably less than a publicity hound, Hillman’s name has become associated with higher profile philanthropic projects, most notably the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The new center undoubtedly will bring more attention to the region’s world-class medical research efforts, giving the area a boost as well.
Cindy Iannarelli, Ph.D., president, Business Cents
If one of the region’s greatest challenges is to keep young entrepreneurs here, perhaps one of the best early-stage solutions is to teach the youngest of kids about the value of entrepreneurship and why Pittsburgh is a great place to be an entrepreneur. That’s what entrepreneur and family business consultant Cindy Iannarelli provides through her extensive educational program for kids, called Business Cents.
Dr. Cindy, as she is known, has found a way to make entrepreneurial education elementary and fun for the youngest of kids through her business camps, games, books and other related materials. She is working on a television series that would take her educational concept national giving the region still more recognition. She continues to counsel family business owners, largely through Indiana University of Pennsylvania, on working together, succession and related issues.
Peter Johnson, president and CEO, TissueInformatics Inc.
Could there be a better business marriage in Pittsburgh than one that couples high-tech imaging with biotechnology? That’s what TissueInformatics, founded in 1997, does. The company provides information and human tissue to tissue engineering firms and genomics and pharmaceutical firms, including data that can be transmitted to clients via the Internet.
President and CEO Peter Johnson is a physician and former president of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative, an effort to promote not just TissueInformatics, but also the birth of an industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
William Johnson, president and CEO, H.J. Heinz Co.
H.J. Heinz’s CEO, William Johnson, has taken on a lot when it comes to Pittsburgh’s economic growth since becoming chief at the food manufacturing giant in 1998. Heinz is bringing the top management of all of its U.S. operations here and has a new world headquarters in mind for its home city.
Last year, Heinz and long-time neighbor Pittsburgh Wool Co. settled their differences so that the ketchup king could go ahead with plans to build a distribution center on the North Side. Amid talk of mergers and consolidations in the food industry, Johnson is pursuing a sound strategy that usually works no matter what else happens: Maintain profitability and increase efficiency.
Al Jones, district director, U.S. Small Business Administration Pittsburgh District Office
Al Jones heads a U.S. Small Business Administration office that is one of the most active and visible in the SBA system. His office administers a portfolio of 2,000 loans worth more than $177 million. He works closely with six small business development centers and coordinates nine chapters of the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
But his greatest achievement has been to improve the federal agency’s outreach, and communication between the SBA and the rest of the economic development community.
A professor at CMU, Donald Jones has been reaching out to entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs via the Donald Jones Center For Entrepreneurship, a program he helped fund within CMU’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration. He was among the first to see that the information superhighway was paved with gold.
One of his ventures, Automation News Network, later Nets Inc., looked like it was going to take off as an early e-commerce venture. A shortage of capital and a rocky partnership with a major investor and entrepreneur put the company belly-up and took Jones out of the driver’s seat, but he’s resurfaced in the investment community as chairman of Triangle Capital. Now a partner with start-up venture capital firm Lycos Ventures, Jones is poised to play a key role as promising but cash-hungry early-stage companies hunt for funding.
Mark Juliano, Mediasite
Mark Juliano, former vice president of marketing with the former Fore Systems, created a stir last year when he said he was planning to retire from his full-time job as head of Mediasite, the company that acquired Islip Media, the start-up he launched. While Juliano says he is heading into retirement and planning to kick back with his family and immerse himself in the arts for the near term, he’s staying close to the entrepreneurial community. He is active with a group of younger business leaders that wants to establish a kind of Duquesne Club for the less formal and faster-moving entrepreneurial set, and he is active in an advisory role with Mediasite. It’s hard to believe that the entrepreneurial bug or the allure of a challenging and financially rewarding offer won’t draw Juliano back into the arena, but stranger things have happened.
Mario Lemieux, president and owner, Pittsburgh Penguins
For years, this hockey icon has been an ambassador for Pittsburgh as he took his extraordinary skills on the road and helped lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to the coveted Stanley Cup win. Now retired, he continues to promote Pittsburgh as the principal owner of the local hockey franchise a team he is working hard to turn around financially.
His nationally recognized annual charity golf tournaments haven’t hurt the region’s image, either.
Kevin McClatchy, president and majority owner, Pittsburgh Pirates
When the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball club seemed to be working its way right out of Pittsburgh, a young Kevin McClatchy put together an investor group, with the blessing of local government, to save the team from leaving. He pulled it off admirably, incorporating an aggressive face-to-face marketing campaign that worked wonders in boosting attendance.
And just when he and everyone else thought he wouldn’t get the new stadium he wanted as a condition of keeping the team here, Plan B worked its way to the surface, and the result can be witnessed along Pittsburgh’s North Shore. The development’s snowball effect is expected to transform the North Side into a major shopping, eating and business destination. (See related article in this month’s Managing Your Business section.)
Joe McGrath, president, Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau
A decade ago, people outside Pittsburgh and some inside laughed if you suggested the town could be a major tourist attraction. That was before Joe McGrath came to town. Since he took over as head of the Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau, Pittsburgh has become a tourism favorite, without a single first-day attraction like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Gateway Arch or a world-class convention facility.
Instead, the region relies on niche attractions, including the Andy Warhol Museum and a few larger venues, such as the Carnegie Science Center, to contribute to a whole made up of many parts. With an enlarged convention center on the horizon, the city could find itself closer to the top of the list as a tourist destination, and McGrath and his staff, we hope, will have their hands full.
Sean McDonald, chairman, Pittsburgh Technology Council
The notion of automating pharmacies was the brainchild of Sean McDonald, who came up with the idea as
a class project while a student at Carnegie Mellon University. McDonald refined the idea, and his company, Automated Healthcare, was acquired by McKesson Corp. in 1996. Now, as chairman of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, McDonald is directing his entrepreneurial energy and wisdom toward helping fledgling business builders transform their dreams into real enterprises.
Mary McKinney, PhD., director, Duquesne University Chrysler Corp. Small Business Development Center
Wherever anyone is educating small business owners, you can be sure you’ll find Mary McKinney among those leading the way in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Since 1986, she has been actively building the small government-funded program administered by Duquesne University to help small businesses into one of the region’s most ardent supporters of economic development. In the past two years,, she has stepped up those efforts to help not just the mom-and-pop businesses that are looking to get started or are in trouble. She and the SBDC at Duquesne are aggressively reaching out to any growth-oriented company in the region.
Last year, she picked up where the now-defunct Enterprise Corp. of Pittsburgh left off with its Entrepreneurs Day conference and launched her own Entrepreneurs Growth Conference, now in its second year. She continues to lead the Entrepreneurial Assistance Network, a state-mandated consortium of many of the region’s business assistance agencies whose goal is to improve service to the region’s businesses and, ultimately, economic growth. She does all of that and continues to teach business courses at Duquesne University.
Barbara McNees, executive director, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
Over the past few years, Barbara McNees has rebuilt and positioned the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce as a leading resource for the Pittsburgh business community. She takes no back seat to anyone when it comes to her outreach to help companies. She has taken her place among the top economic development leaders, working under the auspices of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance to become a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs looking to grow and for those thinking about relocating to the region.
Among her most impressive achievements of late is her leading role in the creation of the one-stop Business Resource Center, with a Web site designed to give entrepreneurs better access to a wide range of business assistance services.
Glen Meakem, chief executive officer, FreeMarkets Inc.
Freemarkets Inc. is an Internet company that sets up business-to-business auctions for purchasing supplies. It’s not the most glamorous of online enterprises, but it promises to be a $300 billion market by 2002. Despite its lack of glitz, FreeMarkets made a modest profit in 1998 and completed an IPO last month that fetched nearly five times the asking price, making Meakem and founding partner Sam Kinney very, very wealthy men and once again putting Pittsburgh on the high-tech map.
But the bottom line for Meakem is this: He didn’t have to locate his company in Pittsburgh, but he did, he says, because of the cost of living and quality of life. He has been vocal in expressing that view to people across the country in magazine articles about him and to many entrepreneurial audiences. Now he’s spreading the wealth throughout the region via the many employees who owned stock options prior to the IPO, which launched at $280 a share rather than the projected $48. He’s setting the pace, indeed.
Barbara Mistick, director, National Education Center for Women in Business at Seton Hill College
When it comes to helping women entrepreneurs, Barbara Mistick rises to the head of the class. She has built Seton Hill College’s National Education Center for Women in Business into a nationally recognized program that reaches countless women business owners.
Among the center’s programs: Three levels of educational programming for school-age women; administration of Powerlink Westmoreland which helps women through the use of peer advisory panels; an annual conference for women entrepreneurs; an awards program for Westmoreland County’s women entrepreneurs; and, most recently, an interactive Web site and online community for assisting women, called e-magnify.com. She leads the way for them all.
Tom Murphy, mayor, City of Pittsburgh
Tom Murphy puts up with his share of political grief when it comes to building downtown, building new stadiums and changing taxes. But by and large, he has helped lead the city into a new renaissance that is finally convincing people to move their residences to downtown Pittsburgh.
One doesn’t have to look much beyond Washington’s Landing, the Pittsburgh Technology Center, the North Shore and the Fifth and Forbes avenue corridors to witness the success of his leadership. No doubt that for him, it makes the rest of the political grief easier to put up with.
John Murray, Duquesne University
A big first step in bringing regionalism to reality was the movement to reform Allegheny County’s antiquated government structure and replace it with a more representative and, if it works as expected, a more effective and efficient one. At the leading edge of that effort has been John Murray, president of Duquesne University.
Murray chaired COMPAC 2000, the group that put together the proposal for the new county government that went into effect this year. And he has been anything but timid when it comes to the institutions he represents. The university considered a merger with Point Park College in 1996 and the establishment of the first new medical school in the United States in 20 years. Both ideas ultimately were abandoned, but it demonstrates that with Murray at its head, Duquesne is not afraid to consider the bold move.
Tom Murrin, dean of the Duquesne University A.J. Palumbo School of Business
After spending 36 years in corporate America with Westinghouse Electric Corp., and as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Tom Murrin put his practical business knowledge to work in academia, bringing real-world sensibilities about commerce to the ivory tower. A leading expert on global competitiveness and total quality management, Murrin chaired the state’s Tech 21 initiative and is an avid cheerleader for entrepreneurship in the region.
Now, the Duquesne University Chrysler Corp. Small Business Development Center has been moved to his oversight, and already he has given SBDC director Mary McKinney the support she needed to step up the center’s efforts to help growing companies with everything from business planning to finding funding and improving cash flow.
William Newlin, president and CEO, Buchanan Ingersoll P.C.
You could say William Newlin has come a long way since he joined Pittsburgh law firm Buchanan Ingersoll P.C. in 1965. But while his leadership as CEO since 1980 has made the firm one of the region’s top firms, that’s not what makes him a pacesetter.
When he’s not working with the CEO Venture Fund to invest in the region’s top high-tech start-ups, he’s behind the scenes negotiating on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh to keep the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, or on some other economic development issue. Without question, he’s a driving force in the region’s economic growth efforts.
Paul O’Neill, chairman, Alcoa
Progressive and unpretentious, Paul O’Neill has displayed a calm but consistent voice in support of the revitalization of the region’s economy. While at the helm one of the world’s largest corporations, he has been dutifully active in ensuring that Alcoa is a responsible corporate citizen in Pittsburgh and that he takes a role in the revival.
The company’s new $67 million North Shore headquarters has received rave reviews for its architecture as well as for its utility and as a symbol of Alcoa’s commitment to the region. The company’s donation of its former home on Sixth Avenue to provide offices for local economic development groups has earned high praise and finally established a place where the region’s traditionally fragmented economic development organizations and agencies can come together under one roof.
Meanwhile, Alcoa has undertaken significant cost-control measures and made key acquisitions, including Alumax Inc. and Reynolds Aluminum last year, during O’Neill’s tenure.
Tim Parks, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
Tim Parks and the PRA have taken their share of criticism, but hey, who said regionalism was going to be easy? Controversy over a pricey, quirky plan to market the region and difficulties in finding the money to fund it have been troublesome. Reports of bickering among the principals have surfaced.
To his credit, Parks, former president of the Pittsburgh High Technology Council, has kept the alliance together, despite the unavoidable struggles that arise when powerful groups with entrenched habits try to work together and venture onto each other’s turf. Regionalism was a tough child to conceive, and may prove an even greater challenge to rear. The PRA and its chief have their work cut out for them, but they’re making sizable strides to bring together the economic development community to collectively grow the region.
G. Richard Patton, president, Western Pennsylvania Adventure Capital Fund
Educator, investor and consultant G. Richard Patton heads the Western Pennsylvania Adventure Capital Fund, a public company that invests in the region’s high-potential, early stage companies. The WPACF’s relatively modest investments of $100,000 at most have the potential of pulling along additional investments of four or five times that amount, often from shareholders in the fund who have the benefit of a highly selective screening process to identify the best bets. With venture capital groups from outside the region zeroing in on Pittsburgh to find fast-growth opportunities, an investment by the Adventure Capital Fund could prove a huge boost for fledgling companies.
Chuck Queenan, chairman, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
At age 69, Chuck Queenan could be viewed as a member of the old guard when it comes to the region’s movers and shakers. He’s a senior counsel at law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and a board member of several staid local corporations. But Queenan is also on the board of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and chairman of Carnegie Mellon’s board of trustees.
Now, he is heading an organization that was traditionally accustomed to interacting with the Fortune 500 companies which, in large measure, have left the city and are being replaced by smaller, fast-moving technology businesses that will play a defining role in shaping the future of the region. Queenan’s challenge will be to lead the Allegheny Conference into the future, and not allow it to become a relic of the past. He’s off to a good start after kicking off his tenure with a party for many of the region’s hippest high-tech entrepreneurs at a local after-hours hot spot. He may
have the right idea.
Frank Brooks Robinson Sr., head of the Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania
Some may view Frank Brooks Robinson Sr. as a bare-knuckled maverick in Pittsburgh’s economic development community, but the fact is, he and the RIDC are what help drive much of the region’s high-tech community in particular, among other business sectors.
Its industrial parks in O’Hara Township, Marshall Township, the airport corridor and other outlying counties are home to some of the region’s most successful entrepreneurial ventures. Today, he leads the nonprofit RIDC in its efforts to secure new land, buildings and financing for companies in an effort to attract new firms and retain existing ones.
Jim Roddey, new Allegheny County Executive
Much can be said for the active business man and long-time regional advocate who helped bring the home-rule charter into this region and, ultimately, turned the county’s old-guard Democratic political machine on its head.
He has given much of himself over the years, and now has the opportunity to give his all as he applies his successful business acumen to running local government in a way that will encourage growth and prosperity in the entire region.
Jeffrey Romoff, president, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
The consolidation of the health care delivery system in Pittsburgh has been driven by two major institutions: UPMC and Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation, the parent of Allegheny General Hospital. Jeffrey Romoff has been at the helm of UPMC since the merger mania began. UPMC quickly pulled out well ahead of AHERF, which fell into financial trouble and left Allegheny General to be scooped up by West Penn Hospital.
A powerful network of hospitals with a world-class medical institution, ranked 12th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, at its center, UPMC looks like the odds-on favorite to dominate the health care scene and remain a major employer for years to come.
Dan Rooney, president, the Pittsburgh Steelers
Even now, no one really questions the importance of the Pittsburgh Steelers to the image of Pittsburgh as a progressive, shining city with an exceptional quality of life which includes professional sports, of course. Dan Rooney so far has effectively carried the torch that was passed to him by his father, the legendary Art Rooney Sr.
While Rooney did his own bidding when it came to his perceived need for a new football stadium, he and the rest of the Rooney family have been ardent supporters and financial backers of dramatic revitalization on the North Side and throughout the region. You only need to look as far as places like St. Louis, Houston and even Cleveland to see what happens when a football team’s owner pulls his support from a region. Enough said.
Jack Roseman, adjunct professor, Carnegie Mellon University’s Donald Jones Center for Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneur, investor, teacher, mentor. What more can you say about a man who is what we would call the quintessential pacesetter, a man who has given his heart and soul to advancing entrepreneurship in the Pittsburgh region? (See this month’s One On One feature for an in-depth interview with him.) Enough said.
Marcus Ruscitto, president, Stargate Industries
Marcus Ruscitto launched Stargate Industries from his bedroom in 1994 with the help of his technical whiz of a younger brother, Michael, then just 15 years old and frustrated by sluggish Internet connections. Since those modest beginnings, Stargate has grown into the largest Internet service provider in Western Pennsylvania, largely on the strength of its 1998 acquisition of USA OnRamp and, more recently, several other smaller providers.
With more than 175 employees, a young management team and a projected growth of 6 percent a month, Stargate is shooting for an IPO within the next two years. In the meantime, you’ll often find Ruscitto sharing his entrepreneurial experience the good and the bad with others at a variety of entrepreneurial events.
Jim Scahill, Armstrong County commissioner
Like a lot of politicians and public officials in counties outside Allegheny, Jim Scahill was wary of regionalism turning into colonialism, with the biggest and strongest county in Southwestern Pennsylvania exploiting its junior partners. The Regional Renaissance Initiative did little to placate those outside Allegheny County. But Scahill realizes that the future of his constituents relies to no small degree on the fortunes of Allegheny County and the ability of the region’s civic leaders to bend the ears of state and federal officials.
That can’t be done if the counties spend their time squabbling instead of lobbying, so Scahill has put himself at the head of the crusade for regionalism. His choice could be politically risky, but he seems to have an enlightened, big-picture view of things that he’s not about to compromise on.
Richard Mellon Scaife, Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
In a world of one-paper towns, Richard Mellon Scaife is determined to make sure Pittsburgh has two dailies. He does his best to stay out of the news, but he’s been adamant about staying in the news business. After an unsuccessful bid to buy the Pittsburgh Press in the early 1990s, when that paper was plagued by a strike, Scaife invested millions of dollars to build his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review into a worthy competitor to the surviving Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The company built a modern printing plant in the North Hills, bolstered its staff, and along the way, acquired several small dailies in the region to boost its presence. All the while, Scaife continues to fund conservative think tanks locally and nationally that study economic issues and their potential impacts and help influence governmental policy decisions.
Rick Sebak, documentary filmmaker, WQED-Pittsburgh
OK, so Rick Sebak isn’t exactly an entrepreneur or economic development leader. But he arguably could be one of the region’s greatest influences locally and abroad. Every year, he creates more quirky documentaries showcasing the sometimes-forgotten charms of Pittsburgh, such as the taken-for-granted nuances of the Strip District in “The Strip Show,” “North Side Story,” “South Side” and “Downtown Pittsburgh.”
He is perhaps best known for his series, “Things That Aren’t There Anymore,” followed by his sequel series, “Things That Are Still Here.” Such works have shown the rest of the country Pittsburgh’s brighter side, but more important, they have helped remind Pittsburghers themselves of what we have and should appreciate and why we should stay.
Cliff Shannon, SMC Business Councils
When the leadership of SMC Business Councils was passed to Cliff Shannon from lionized, long-time small business advocate Leo McDonough, the new president had some large shoes to fill. Shannon has put his mark on the organization by helping shepherd members through the vagaries of late-century challenges to business, such as energy deregulation.
He has led an effort to bolster the image of the organization by, among other things, highlighting the combined efforts of small businesses in stimulating the economy in a study that looks at investments by growing companies. And he has led his share of delegations to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., to voice concerns about laws affecting business. He has become a master small business advocate.
David Shapira, chairman, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, and president and CEO, Giant Eagle Corp.
If the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance is to fulfill its promise of making regionalization a reality that pays real benefits to Southwestern Pennsylvania, it’s going to have to make the five organizations under its banner march in lockstep.
David Shapira, a mover in Pittsburgh’s corporate community who took over the chairmanship of the PRA last year, will need to display the same kind of innovative thinking and marketing savvy that led his Giant Eagle supermarket chain to the top of the heap in its market. Consumers have bought his pitch for groceries, but will economic development types go for his vision of how to best work together? Only time will tell.
Richard Simmons, partner, Birchmere Investments
Richard Simmons, considered among the wealthiest Americans, is proof that heavy-industry bigwigs of prior decades don’t have to turn into today’s dinosaurs. He has made the transition from big-company capitalist to venture capitalist without losing a step.
Simmons led a group of investors in the purchase of then-Allegheny Ludlum Industries Inc. in 1980, and shepherded the company through several changes, including a merger with Teledyne Inc. in 1996. Last year, he revealed a plan to divide Allegheny Technologies into three companies. He’s played an active role in local economic development efforts, including a stint as chairman of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Simmons plans to retire in May, which will presumably allow him more time to tend to his venture capital fund, Birchmere Investments. The fund has invested in several promising companies, including FreeMarkets Inc., the Pittsburgh Internet company that completed a hugely successful IPO last December.
William Strickland, president, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
When William Strickland established the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, he envisioned a program that would use art to keep troubled youth off the streets. The initiative, which has grown to include training programs for a host of professions, including food service and horticulture, has become a nationally recognized and modeled program for training youth and other unemployed people for meaningful and often good-paying jobs.
This visionary potter offers what may be one of the most successful economic development programs in the region and beyond, yet many still don’t follow his lead when it comes to getting the unemployed back onto the tax roles. He’s one to emulate.
Gideon Toeplitz, executive director, The Pittsburgh Symphony
In an era in which sports teams are making demands on the region to ensure that Pittsburgh remains their hometown, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra leaves town only to raise its prestige, both nationally and internationally, and the image of Pittsburgh. Gideon Toeplitz, the PSO’s executive director, is leading the symphony in bold directions, such as its establishment of Curtain Call, a retail store and coffee and pastry bar across from its Heinz Hall home which replaces a smaller retail operation within the concert hall.
And he’s helping the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and others use the PSO to heavily promote the Pittsburgh region to the rest of the world. With an enlarged convention center and a brisk tourist trade promising more foot traffic in the Cultural District, not to mention the anticipation of a robust economy, the PSO could have its brightest days ahead, thanks to Toeplitz’s leadership.
John Turyan, executive director, Builders Guild
John Turyan, who has been working with the Builders Guild since its inception, has a full plate as the group’s first executive director. Touted by some as having the potential of becoming a national model for business-labor-government cooperation, the organization is incorporating this year to formalize the relationship between the building trade unions and construction industry groups.
The Builders Guild began as an initiative by building trades unions for revamping relationships between labor and management and bringing minorities into the organized labor pool. Now, the guild has the potential of changing the labor/management landscape in Pittsburgh for the better and helping the region shuck its reputation for troublesome labor problems.
Sunil Wadhwani, Mastech Systems Corp.
Sunil Wadhwani and Ashok Trivedi, his founding partner in Mastech Systems Corp., have come as close as anyone in duplicating the stellar success in high technology that the former Fore Systems achieved. The developer of custom software and information services started out modestly and built a blockbuster of a software consulting company. When they took it public in 1996, the venture made them both multimillionaires.
Partially as a give-back to the community, the company last fall established Mastech eVentures, a $50 million venture capital fund to help early-stage Web-based Western Pennsylvania start-ups and make investments in promising technology firms outside the region. That’s some hard-working money.
Dennis Yablonsky, president, Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse
For years, Dennis Yablonsky not only ran Carnegie Group Inc., which ultimately went public under his watch, he also put in considerable time as a vocal advocate of high technology in the region. Most of his effort was directed toward the Pittsburgh Technology Council, of which he has always been an active member.
But now he’s making perhaps his greatest potential impact. He’s leading the much-talked-about Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, which brings together large international high-tech companies and a host of local forces to create an entirely new industry around a new-generation computer chip. (See related feature on page 46.) If successful, this initiative will cap the region’s efforts to become a high-tech force to be reckoned with.
Art Ziegler, president, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation
When the city came up with its proposal to revamp the Forbes-Fifth corridor into a modern retail district, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation raised a fuss. But instead of trying to block the development, the foundation offered a plan that would preserve the district’s historical integrity while encouraging development that would spruce up the shopping area’s countenance and raise its quality.
Art Ziegler, president of that foundation, clearly recognizes the importance of preserving Pittsburgh’s history and its many old buildings in establishing an attractive, trendy and prosperous future. The challenge for the History and Landmarks Foundation will be to stand up for preservation of historical sites while not appearing to be obstructionist. If it comes up with viable alternatives, it will be able to retain its dignity and the city’s historic buildings.