Archive for the ‘Other Interesting Posts’ Category

Although – this site focuses on products made in Pennsylvania – occassionally, I come across a company where it’s so extraordinary that they still make their products in the U.S. – that I need to give them an HONORARY Made in Pennsylvania designation.  One such company is New Balance Shoes. 

New Balance Shoes is interesting because…first, their shoes are truly well made.  I mean that – I really do, these are great shoes.  I’m terribly happy that a good number of their shoes are still made here.  Compare this to other major brands – Nike, Reebok, and Adidas – who have shipped the vast majority of their manufacturing off to lower cost areas. Admittedly, New Balance does this as well – but, they still have 5 factories in the U.S. (Maine and MA) and a large number of their shoes (especially, their running shoes) are made here.  nb

New Balance was started in 1906 as New Balance Arch Support company.  Their products were targeted towards policemen, nurses, and factory workers who spent all day on their feet.  Up until the 1960’s, New Balance primarily focuses on arch supports, but opportunely expanded its product line in 1961 to include a shoe called the “trackster”.  Sales didn’t pick-up, however, until the 1970’s, when the nation-wide running craze exploded out of Boston (I believe Forrest Gump was involved).  At the time, the company had 10 employess and sold a few dozen pairs of shoes, primarily through mail order.   The company has since exploded into a $1.5B global shoe company – they still specialize in high-grade running shoes and avoid costly, high profile marketing campaigns.

To be exact, you can shop at New Balance.com and select the “Made in the USA” shoes – some shoes are in fact made in Asia.  You can look at shoes made in the U.S. by following this link….New Balance


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If there is a Pennsylvania company that you would like to see featured – send us an email. Happy Holidays!


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Vacon, a $320 million (2007 revenue) global engine manufacturer based in Finland, is locating its North American headquarters in Chambersburg, Pa.  The facility will hold both product development and testing facilities under the same roof and is projected to create 94 jobs.  If all goes as plan, the company will open the facility in 2009. 

Link to Press Release

Company Website

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An article in the Pittsburgh Post this week highlights the relative strength of Western Pennsylvania’s manufacturing in 2008.   The survey was completed in September, so it doesn’t include the meltdown months of October and November that have sent manufacturing into a tailspin nation wide.  What’s interesting, is the article sites the fact that 78% of the companies surveyed increase employment over the past 3 years.   That’s good news for an industry that’s been under duress from cheap imports and offshoring.

In some sense, Pennsylvania is more capable of handling the downturn that most states.  The State’s manufacturing base is diversified since the days of the Steel industry.  There is a solid number of companies – most of them private – making components and equipment used around the world.   Timing is important as well – Pennsylvania went through tough times in the 1980’s and has since rebounded  – there are a lot of smaller companies that have found niche businesses with few competitors.

Link to Article

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Governor Rendell signed an expansion of the State’s Keystone Economic Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program on July 10th.  The bill could add 15 new KOZ’s to the existing 10 throughout the state.  KOZ’s were established to reduce the tax burden on new businesses in areas that were deemed in high need.  KOZ’s are located in economically depressed areas or on industrial sites that were environmentally damaged or in urgent need of re-development.  One such site was the Philadelphia Shipyard that was vacated a number of years ago and sat vacant and in ruin in a high need area of Philadephia.  Since the KOZ status was applied, new businesses have relocated to the ship yard.  Tasty Kake established a new operations center in the ship yard as Urban Outfitters as well as many other companies.  The KOZ program has been labeled a $1billion investment in Pennsylvania’s economy.

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It would could be a huge boom for the solar industry in Pennsylvania, the latest Pennsylvania budget includes $650 million for tax incentives for energy conservation and use of alternative energy.  Governor Rendell pushed hard for the legislation, citing the fact that energy rate caps are set to expire in parts of Pennsylvania by 2011 – increasing the cost of electricity by $4 billion.  Such incentives have been labeled as critical to making solar energy an attractive investment for home owners – who stand to benefit from “selling electricity back to the utility companies.”  Such projects generally have a long horizon before a home owner or business sees a return on their initial cash outlay.  With the cost of electricity projected to increase substantially, such projects become a lot more desireable when coupled with a rebate, grant, or loan.

Yipee! Pennsylvania joins the small crowd of states offering such incentives

Details on Funding 

  • $100 million in loans, grants and rebates that will cover the cost of installing solar technology on homes and small businesses.
  • $165 million for businesses and local government to promote renewable energy projects
  • $40 billion to promote the development of alternative energy businesses
  • $80 million in grants and loans for economic development projects in the solar sector
  • $25 million for wind and geothermal projects
  • $25 million to promote pollution controls

These incentives in ther form of grants, loans, and rebates should stimulate demand for energy conservation and renewable energy technologies – promoting the development of new industry and small businesses, while reducing energy consumption and pollution.

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Pennsylvania’s Treasurer, Robin Wiessmann, unveiled $400 million fund-of-funds aimed at investing in state-based emerging & minority money managers.  This is part of the Treasury’s ongoing effort to increase returns to its portfolio, reduce management costs, while investing in Pennsylvania businesses.  Fund-of-funds are massive investment portfolios that invest in smaller money managers and venture capital funds.  The initiative could result in a infusion of capital into local Pennsylvania businesses.  

Link to Article


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