On Tuesday, November 14th, Burns Scalo hosted a breakfast and interactive panel discussion about the partnership of technology, education and infrastructure, and how it’s fueling the tremendous growth taking place in Allegheny County.
The event panelists included State Representative, Jason Ortitay, Pittsburgh International Airport CEO, Christa Cassotis, Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, South Fayette Township Commissioner, Gwen Rodi, Senior Managing Director of Integra Realty Resources, Paul Griffith, and Burns Scalo President, Jim Scalo, who moderated the discussion. The event was sponsored by Waldron Private Wealth, and other Western Pennsylvania industry leaders, and was held on the 2nd floor of the recently completed Burns Scalo office complex, Beacon I, where guests enjoyed spectacular views of the rolling hills and turning foliage of Bridgeville, PA.
A key component of the discussion was the central role connectivity plays in growth and investment. “Linkages” Burns Scalo President, Jim Scalo, pointed out, “Are what move the needle in real estate economics. When two high value points are connected, the areas between them benefit tremendously.” Illustrating the point, was the impact the completion of Interstate 279 had on Cranberry and Wexford, providing both townships with direct access to downtown Pittsburgh. Not only have the populations of Wexford and Cranberry doubled, but they have both experienced extraordinary community investment and job growth, including newly constructed hotels, schools, the Lemieux Sports Complex and numerous restaurants and shopping centers since the highway was completed.
Similar growth is expected to result when the third leg of the “technology triangle” is completed: the Southern Beltway, which will connect Southpointe and Pittsburgh International Airport, and is scheduled to open in early 2020. Comparable to the impact that 279 has had on the many communities surrounding Cranberry and Wexford, not only will Southpointe benefit from the influx in traffic and connectivity, but the many communities along the corridor as well. And leading up to the completion of the beltway, there has already been tremendous growth in South Fayette County, including the Beacon I and the soon to be completed Beacon II office complexes, the construction of Pennsylvania’s first Top Golf complex, as well as numerous hotels, offices, retail outlets and restaurants in Bridgeville and Southpointe. And this only adds to what has been taking place in other parts of the region, like the world headquarters Argo AI is developing in the Strip District, following on the heels of Uber, who built their Advanced Technologies Group offices just up the street, with both being strategically located downtown to mine the cutting edge talent coming out of CMU. Other impactful additions to the Pittsburgh economy include Shell Chemical, who is building an ethylene cracker complex in Potter Township, and Google, who built their corporate campus in Bakery Square. Also worth mentioning is Pittsburgh’s highly competitive bid to land Amazon’s second headquarters, which would bring with it an estimated 50,000 jobs, 250,000 hotel nights and $5 billion in additional investments.
But regardless of whether Pittsburgh wins the Amazon bid or not, Allegheny County is already experiencing significant growth, and is positioned for sustained growth going forward. Our incredible depth of educated, uniquely skilled talent, produced by institutions like Carnegie Mellon, Robert Morris, Duquesne and Pitt means that not only can students who grew up and went to school here find high quality jobs here, but this richness of talent will continue to attract employers to relocate and build their businesses here. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that Pittsburgh was recently named by CNBC as the best city for millennials for job prospects and quality of life. Pittsburgh was also named by USA Today as the best city to retire in, influenced by our world class health care and low crime rate.
With the completion of the Southern Beltway scheduled for the first part of 2020, South Fayette County and all points along the corridor are positioned to experience a significant boom in job growth, investment, property value and population, similar to what Cranberry and Wexford have experienced over the past few decades. The additional route to the airport, and the development along the corridor will only further enhance the infrastructure that companies value so highly when selecting a location to build and operate their businesses: access to the airport and access to the highly skilled talent and culture of the metropolitan area. With Pittsburgh’s world class universities, hospitals and burgeoning technology sector, the region’s future is built not only for a boom now, but for sustained growth far into the future.