Business Briefs: Survey: Pa. businesses curb plans for hiring

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Survey: Pa. businesses curb plans for hiring

Business leaders in Pennsylvania are less optimistic about the economy than they were a year ago and have lowered their hiring plans, according to an annual survey by First Niagara Bank. Of the 715 executives polled in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and eight other metropolitan areas across the state, 23 percent plan to increase their work forces in 2013, down from 30 percent in 2012. The overall confidence index for Pennsylvania was 88.9, down 23.2 points from the previous year. The index ranges from zero to 200, with 100 signifying an equal number of optimistic and pessimistic responses. The Pittsburgh/Allegheny County area was the only region in the state to top the 100 breakeven point, with an overall confidence index of 106.8, up slightly from 2012.

Highmark to expand care pilot program

Highmark Inc. is expanding its "patient-centered medical home" pilot, a program that asks physicians to better coordinate and customize health care for their patients, the health insurer announced Wednesday. The pilot, which began in spring 2011, had included 160 primary care doctors in 12 practices covering about 45,000 members; the expansion will now include 1,050 primary care doctors in more than 100 practices covering about 171,000 Highmark customers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. During the pilot, Highmark said it found that linking physicians' payments to quality and efficiency of care helped reduce patients' readmission rates.

Heinz rewards Asian firm with extra $60 million

The H.J. Heinz Co. reported it made an additional payment of $60 million to Singapore-based Transpac Industrial Holdings Ltd. based on the "outstanding" performance of the Foodstar business in China that Heinz acquired from Transpac for $165 million in November 2010. The extra payment will be recorded as a special item of 4 cents per share for the third quarter, which ends Jan. 27. Pittsburgh-based Heinz said in a regulatory filing that the business that makes soy sauce and fermented bean curd now exceeds $200 million in sales.

Health Dept. issues alert for Squirrel Hill eatery

The Allegheny County Health Department posted a "Consumer Alert" at Frankie's/Friends in Squirrel Hill for repeated food safety violations, such as foods not being protected from cross contamination, foods being held at unsafe temperatures and a faulty dishwasher. Inspection reports for county restaurants: webapps.achd.net/Restaurant/.

Women-owned business program, Seton Hill join

PowerLink, an advisory and mentoring program for women-owned businesses, has entered a strategic alliance with Seton Hill University's E-Magnify women's business center. PowerLink, formerly based at the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, will be managed by Lee Ann Munger from a satellite office at the Riverside Center for Innovation, North Side.

Also in business...

Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University, joined the board of the Heinz Endowments.

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