The week that was: Whole Foods, Part III

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Whole Foods, Part III

In what is quite possibly the biggest news to hit the Pittsburgh area since the North Hills' Whole Foods grand opening, the upscale Texas natural food chain announced that it would be opening a South Hills store, too. The store, near South Hills Village mall at the corner of Washington and Fort Couch roads, could open on or before fall 2015.

Quote of the week

"This has been a tough project."

-- Cheryl Hall-Russell, president and CEO of the Hill House Association, remarking in understated fashion on the decadeslong effort to recruit, and secure funding for, a full grocery store in the city's Hill District neighborhood. Hill leaders announced last week that long-delayed Shop 'n Save grocery should be back on track after filling a $3.86 million gap in store financing.

A healthy outlook

UPMC recorded operating revenue of $2.5 billion for the first quarter of the current fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. That's a $39 million increase from the same quarter a year ago. Operating income, though, fell from $155 million to $72 million, the Pittsburgh hospital system announced last week in releasing its unaudited financials.

Meanwhile, UPMC's top rival, insurer Highmark Inc., said it will begin paying for genetic screenings, to be marketed toward young Ashkenazi Jews, who, because of their common heritage, are more likely to be healthy carriers of genes that can lead to conditions such as Canavan disease, Gaucher disease and Tay-Sachs disease.

Obligatory election item

Post-election -- that is, Wednesday through Friday -- the Dow Jones industrial average was down 297.05 points. While some of that drop may have been related to election results and the prospect of more Washington gridlock, analysts say the Wednesday and Thursday skid also had a lot to do with big worries about European debt and concerns over the future growth prospects of tech giant Apple Inc., whose shares are down 20 percent from recent highs, putting them into bear territory.

Happy Veterans Day

Want to support our vets? Then support their businesses -- at websites like buyveteran.com, you can find listings for millions of veteran-owned businesses across the country, including hundreds in the Pittsburgh area. The National Veteran-Owned Business Association estimates there are 3 million fully or partly veteran-owned companies in the U.S.

Happier Veterans Day

Your dollars are helpful, but the real money is in government contracts. Some states, according to the Wall Street Journal, have passed laws that set aside a percentage of the budget (usually 3 percent) for veteran-owned business. Other states, such as Pennsylvania, haven't set a target percentage but have programs in place that encourage government contracting with veteran-owned businesses.

Still others have resisted putting in place any sort of preference, "citing the costs associated with ensuring that businesses are really veteran-owned to avoid fraud," the Journal said. A 2011 federal audit estimated that the Department of Veterans Affairs awards "ineligible firms" -- that is, firms that claimed to be veteran-owned but weren't -- 1,400 contracts worth $500 million a year.

businessnews

Bill Toland: btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.


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