Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Positively Pittsburgh Live! No Fiscal Cliff for Pittsburgh, Top of Mountain 1-14-13

Positively Pittsburgh Live!
No Fiscal Cliff for Pittsburgh,Top of Mountain

Sean Luther, Pittsburgh 2030 District Director at Green Building Alliance
Carl Knoblock, District Director Small Business Administration Western District Pennsylvania
J. André Weisbrod, President and CEO, STAAR Financial Advisors, Inc.

Last week, the President signed into law the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” or H.R.8. Among the provisions included in the legislation are:

According to the White House, compared to the current policy baseline, H.R. 8 will reduce the deficit by an additional $737 billion. Together with the discretionary cuts already made in 2011 through the Budget Control Act, about $2 trillion in deficit reduction has been achieved.
Income tax rates will permanently rise to for families with income above $450,000 and individuals above $400,000. All income below the threshold will permanently be taxed at existing rates.

The federal estate tax will be set at 40 percent for those at the $450,000/$400,000 threshold, with a $5 million exemption. That threshold will be indexed to inflation.
The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will be permanently patched to avoid raising taxes on the middle-class.

The agreement also extended important business tax extenders like the R&D tax credit through 2013, while also extending the 50% bonus depreciation for one more year.
The sequester will be delayed for two months. Half of the delay will be offset by discretionary cuts, split between defense and non-defense. The other half will be offset by revenue raised by the voluntary transfer of traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs, which would tax retirement savings when they’re moved over.

Finally, H.R. 8 extends unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans still looking for new jobs and extends tax relief for higher education and the hardest pressed working families for another five years.

To read the full text of the legislation or the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of the bill, please use these links: CBO Score and Full Text of Legislation.

As the new Congress begins its work and negotiations continue over issues of taxes, spending and the debt ceiling, we will keep you informed of developments. 

Sean Luther is the Pittsburgh 2030 District Director at Green Building Alliance.
Sean manages all aspects of the Pittsburgh 2030 District, including convening the District Partners, serving as the primary spokesman, and collaborating with GBA and District stakeholders. Sean will be working to increase District participation and tracking progress towards the 2030 District’s aggressive efficiency goals.

Sean Luther
Prior to joining GBA, Sean served as President & CEO of Downtown Roanoke, Inc. in Roanoke, VA. During his term in Roanoke, Sean significantly refocused the organization’s economic development direction, oversaw the expansion of the downtown service district, and led an inter-organizational developer recruitment effort that resulted in an $18 million hotel announcement in Downtown. Sean has also worked in various capacities, including as Economic Development Specialist, for four years at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (a 2030 District Community Partner) working chiefly as the administrator of the Paris to Pittsburgh street activation program, the Market Square reactivation initiative, and office recruitment and retention efforts.

A Pittsburgh native (and currently a downtown resident),  Sean earned a BS in Political Science from Clemson University in South Carolina and a Masters in Real Estate Development, also from Clemson. He holds a certification as an Economic Development Financial Professional from the National Development Council and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois-Chicago, is a member of the Urban Land Institute and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the International Downtown Association.

Green Building Alliance (GBA) is a community benefit organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  GBA was founded in 1993 (celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year) and was the first U.S. Green Building Council affiliate. Serving all of Western Pennsylvania, GBA is a regional catalyst that inspires the creation of healthy, high performing places for everyone by providing leadership that connects knowledge, transformative ideas, and collaborative action. To learn more, visit

Sean relayed that many aspects of sustainable building promote not only a healthy environment – but a healthy economy, too. At Green Building Alliance, they launched the Pittsburgh 2030 District in August 2012, and this is a prime example of how high-performance buildings can contribute to economic development.

The Green Building Alliance’s “Pittsburgh 2030 District” is a partnership of property owners/managers, non-profit organizations, and public agencies working together to significantly improve the health and efficiency of buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh. 

The 2030 District is based on the national 2030 Challenge and seeks to reduce existing buildings’ energy and water consumption, and transportation emissions to 50% of the national average by the year 2030; the goal of new construction is to achieve net zero energy and water usage in the same time period. An indoor air quality component is also in development.

The goals of the 2030 District, and GBA’s efforts to improve health and efficiency in existing buildings around Western Pennsylvania, are critical to the continued economic health of the region.  Reducing operating costs in their office and civic buildings improves the region’s competitiveness with peer cities around the country.   

The 2030 District does not prescribe how each individual property owner accomplishes their efficiency improvement goals. However, many properties will be undertaking capital projects including new HVAC systems, lighting upgrades, window replacement, low-flow water fixture installation, and building roof gardens. These projects will generate short term (and exportable) jobs for the region while ensuring long term economic success.

Currently 30 Property owners representing 89 buildings and over 26 million square feet (50% of the total square footage in downtown) have committed to the 2030 District’s aggressive efficiency goals. Committed buildings include: the US Steel Building, PNC Park, First Presbyterian Church, PNC Financial Services headquarters campus, the Convention Center, and the venues of the Cultural Trust. GBA expects to report the progress towards the 2030 District’s energy and water goals for the first time in early fall of this year.

Carl B. Knoblock

Carl B. Knoblock is the District Director for U.S. Small Business Administration in the Pittsburgh District Office. Carl carries out the SBA mission which is to help small businesses. While helping small businesses, he has a second mission of economic development in Western Pennsylvania. Benjamin Disraeli stated “A person is only truly great when he acts from his passions.” Carl has a deep passion to help small businesses succeed and create economic development in the region.

They accomplish that mission by using SBA programs: government contracting, guarantor of loans, advocacy, disaster assistance, and technical assistance. 

Carl was born in Glendale, Arizona. He traveled extensively throughout his childhood because his father made a career in the U.S. Air Force. He is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology and a Masters’ degree in Health Science. In addition, he brings a diverse background having been involved in many different industries and businesses. 

He served in the U.S. Navy and is a disabled veteran. He helped develop the asbestos abatement training program for the State of Delaware. 

He started his own small business, an environmental consulting firm. He specialized in chemical and biological issues and energy efficiency. Carl is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). Eventually, he left the environmental consulting business so he could spend more time as a foster parent. He found foster parenting a deeply rewarding experience.

He went to work at a small polymer manufacturing company. He understands what it means to wear multiple hats in a small organization. During his tenure, he handled the following duties: general manager, regulatory affairs manager, human resources, information systems management, research and development, and international marketing. In addition, he acquired ISO 9000:2000 registration for the company.

Carl is a strong supporter of youth entrepreneurship. Gloria Swanson stated “Never is a long, unpredictable time, and life is too full of rich possibilities to have restrictions placed upon it.” Carl sees youth like this and they are the positive change agents of the future .

Gandhi stated “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Carl sees the strength in Western Pennsylvania and looks forward of being part of the change.

He spoke about Job Accelerator Grants, SBIC, the Community Advantage Loan Program, Contract Loans, Size Standard Revisions, and STEP Grant – Exporting. For more information on the SBA, please visit

J. André Weisbrod is founder of STAAR Financial Advisors Inc. and the STAAR Investment Trust headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.  He has been named a 5-star Wealth Manager in Pittsburgh Magazine and is among the longest tenured fund managers with over 16 years managing the same funds and his STAAR AltCat and STAAR International Funds have received 4 or 5 star rankings from Morningstar in 8 of the past 10 years. He is an author and speaker and has been interviewed, quoted or had articles published in a variety of media including Investor’s Business Daily,, The Wall Street Journal, Business News Network, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USA Today,  KDKA TV and Reuters TV.
J. André Weisbrod
Actively involved in church and community affairs, Mr. Weisbrod is committed to the well being of individuals, families and businesses. Avocations include competitive masters swimming, scuba diving, painting and photography, acting and music.

He discussed investment markets, stating that we like Smaller Company stocks, Real Estate and Emerging markets, but it is likely to be a stock-picker's market. If China's growth increases and India's government gets out of the way, certain commodities could be given a demand boost.  Wild card is the US and other governments. If we can get some substantive financial responsibility, stock performance could be very good in 2013

With regards to Pittsburgh, he says entrepreneurial activity is strong. Our real estate has held up better than most and prices could rise a bit in 2013.  Companies in the area seem to be holding their own and there are some companies that appear to be leaders.

The Pittsburgh-based company PPG -0.75%  came in for the lion’s share of attention on the earnings front before the opening bell on Wall Street.

PPG posted a net profit of $227 million, or $1.46 a share, up from $216 million, or $1.39 a share, earned in the year-earlier fourth quarter. Revenue increased to $3.65 billion from the prior year’s $3.52 billion.

Downtown-based health supplements retailer GNC, which could either go through with an initial public offering or perhaps take the rumor mill option of being acquired by China's Bright Food Group, increased $110 million for a 2010 revenue of $1.82 billion. It could follow a pattern set by Education Management, which last year ranked third with revenue of $2 billion but was ineligible this year since the company went public in 2009.

Private company but good conversation.

Monroeville-based car retailer #1 Cochran posted a $56 million increase over last year for a total of $414.8 million. And Day Automotive, another of the region's top car sellers and one also located in Monroeville, saw a $33 million increase in revenue for a 2010 total of $316.7 million. A chief competitor to both companies, Kenny Ross of North Huntingdon, enters the chart with $339 million, a $7 million uptick -- or about 280 Buicks -- from last year. 

This was reported as a reproduction of PositvelyPittsburghLive news done by Joanne Quinn-Smith. (c) Joanne Quinn-Smith and PositivelyPittsburghLive(TM) 2012 All rights reserved.

Tara Darazio is a Positively Pittsburgh Live reporter, an independent copywriter, blogger, article writer, and social media strategist. If you are in need of writing assistance, or need help with your social media efforts connect with Tara on LinkedIn here.

No comments: