Pittsburgh's story is one of survival
These are hard times for everyone from chief executives of Fortune 500 companies to laid-off workers. Businesses are struggling to survive. The national unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. Credit is tight. Foreclosures are rampant. Home sales are down.
The story is a little different here.
To be clear, Pittsburgh is not disconnected from the global economy. But while it may not be Brigadoon, it also is not mentioned in the same breath with cities such as Detroit and Las Vegas that have been mauled by the recession.
In choosing a theme for the annual Top 50 in Business report, we decided to look at how Pittsburgh companies have managed to not only survive but thrive during the downturn.
Inside this report, Bill Toland looks at why Pittsburgh is outperforming other cities and whether the region can continue to succeed. Mark Belko sees signs the recession might be catching up to local real estate development, which so far has benefitted from good timing. While the regional unemployment rate trails the nation's, there still are people seeking work here. Ann Belser talks to experts about looking for a job in a down economy. And if you think things are bad now, Patricia Sabatini puts things in perspective by looking back to the 1980s and the collapse of the steel industry here.
Even when many are struggling, some businesses are growing. Joyce Gannon explores that trend while Tim Grant, Don Hammonds, Elwin Green and Steve Twedt write about some smaller companies that are growing in big ways.
What drives the section though is the annual benchmark of companies, and the second half of the section ranks the Top 50 public companies by the same measures we've been using for years -- revenue, change in revenue, net income, change in net income, change in stock price, return on equity and market value. Some of the changes in the lists are surprising.
We also look at local private companies and companies based outside the area that have a significant presence in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Because the region's financial health and quality of life involves many layers, our staff also checks in on local foundations, colleges and universities, the arts and health care companies.
And we continue our examination of local public companies with women in positions of authority.
The Top 50 section is the culmination of months of work from reporters, photographers and artists. In addition to the journalists whose names appear in the section, Assistant Business Editors R.J. Hufnagel and Teresa Lindeman made sure this would be a report that readers could turn to not just today but over the course of the year.
Len Boselovic, in addition to writing for the section, compiled information for the lists from company reports and his own research. He brings a depth of experience to a complicated task.
But the work isn't confined to the print edition. Post-gazette.com enhances the section with:
• A slide show that offers perspective by looking back to the recession of the 1980s.
To keep the conversation going, we are starting a readers' forum asking you to tell us your success story. We know there are many more out there -- even in these tough economic times.
If you have comments, e-mail us at email@example.com or send mail to Post-Gazette Business Section, Top 50, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15222. Please include your telephone number, municipality and return address for verification.
First Published March 17, 2009 12:00 am