CEO Note: November 2023

CEO Note


Stefani Pashman, CEO

As the Pittsburgh region moves forward in its journey toward transformation, it’s important to take stock of where our key strategies stand.

One of our region’s best-known strengths is energy. Last year, we launched a plan — developed in concert with a wide range of stakeholders — to leverage this strength with a forward-looking approach that seeks to balance carbon reduction with strong, inclusive economic growth.

Our energy strategy, detailed in an April 2022 report, calls for attention to six interdependent levers with a goal of achieving material decarbonization by 2050. A year and a half later, measurable progress is under way. Here are some highlights:

Grid Modernization: Just last month, Duquesne Light received a $20 million federal grant for its Grid Modernization Program, which will create a modern, affordable and resilient grid integrated with local renewable generation, batteries, electric vehicles and electric heating and cooling. This is a powerful example of how advanced technology adoption can position Pittsburgh for a successful energy transition.

Hydrogen Hub: Hydrogen is key to advancing decarbonization, especially in hard to abate industrial and transportation sectors. Recently leaders of the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2) — including our region’s EQT and CNX, among others — were selected as a hydrogen hub. We are committed to working with partners from labor and industry to create opportunities for southwestern Pennsylvania as the ARCH2 projects move forward.

In parallel, research and development — a hallmark of our region — focused on significantly accelerating hydrogen use is underway in our backyard. A prime example is Columbia Gas’s testing of blends of hydrogen and natural gas and their effect on various household appliances, as well as natural gas infrastructure that transports fuel underground to homes and businesses.

Low-Carbon Energy Generation: Westinghouse Electric’s investment in a low-carbon future includes eVinci™, a microreactor that can bring cost-competitive and resilient source of power to communities and business locations in need of a reliable power source in the absence of traditional grids. This revolutionary product, developed in the borough of Etna, will provide carbon-free energy to remote places, areas hit by natural or man-made disasters, and some industrial applications.

Of note, projects like Columbia Gas and Westinghouse that build facilities in small communities like Monaca and Etna that are in need of investment are prime examples of how such intentional investment can grow jobs and create wealth across geographic and demographic communities.  

All these organizations are critical first movers. Their meaningful, material early investments will no doubt hasten our decarbonization efforts, but many others will need to follow to achieve regional decarbonization and a successful energy transition.   

We need a groundswell of low-carbon energy investment across industries and from businesses and communities large and small to unleash our region’s full potential from both economic and environmental standpoints.

Thanks to robust sources of federal investment, we have the tools to mobilize the potential in these second and third movers. The Allegheny Conference stands ready to help our region’s businesses tap into these federal funding opportunities to accelerate their participation.

Investment and production tax credits are available through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), including novel funding mechanisms and provisions such as direct pay, bonus credits and stackability. This has increased the pool of eligible recipients and amplifies how much money you can receive through incentive-based structures. In addition to tax credits, the IRA includes a variety of grants, loans and financing opportunities to governments, businesses, nonprofits, communities and households. 

One timely example includes Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In our region, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission is currently soliciting proposals from organizations throughout our 10-county region to submit their greenhouse gas emission reduction measures for funding consideration by December 15.

And the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will soon launch a similar but state-wide process with a particularly deep focus on the industrial sector.

Some companies are successfully leveraging the loan opportunities. Eos Energy Enterprises – which recently shipped its first battery to a customer – earlier this year received a $398.6 million federal loan to support expansion of its groundbreaking long-duration battery technology.

The bottom line is that we can make decarbonization happen in the Pittsburgh region. In fact, it is a key priority for us. All these opportunities are predicated on close collaborations involving public, community, labor and other entities. We urge employers to explore these opportunities, make connections, forge partnerships, engage in taking full advantage of the funding sources that are available. 

I encourage you to take a closer look and lean on the Allegheny Conference to point you in the right direction. Together, we can bring this kind of transformational funding to our region, moving ever closer to our energy goals.

To learn more about the role of nuclear innovation in a clean energy future,
join us this Thursday, November 16, for a Special Topic Briefing.

CEO Note


Stefani Pashman, CEO

In a few short weeks, we will be welcoming a new year — traditionally, a time for resolution and reflection, setting goals and making plans.

For the Pittsburgh region, 2024 will usher in a shift in strategy for the Allegheny Conference. During this past year, you, our valued Regional Investors, have been instrumental in partnering to create an agenda that will drive our path forward to prosperity. Together we have aligned around the biggest opportunities and challenges we as a region face.

This planning has been done against the backdrop of challenging headwinds. Our economic performance continues to lag behind the state, our benchmark regions, as well as the nation. During the next decade, Pittsburgh’s growth is predicted to be significantly less than the U.S. average. Our region’s demographic challenges — defined by a homogenous, aging population, where close to 15% of residents are within 10 years of retirement — are significant contributing factors. 

These realities necessitate new approaches if we are to achieve the future we want. We must change course.

The agenda that we have built together is our plan for doing just that. We are recalibrating not only what we are working on but also how we are working on it. We are moving from retail to wholesale, from transactional to transformational.

Our plan is anchored in four focused priorities:

Downtown. As the urban core goes, so goes our region. We must re-imagine and recreate a downtown Pittsburgh where people want — not have — to be. We are well on our way to laying the groundwork for this to happen. We are working with partners to identify sustainable funding solutions to maintain programmatic investments that have already been made to stabilize downtown in the near term. And we have engaged experts from inside and outside the region to guide us in developing a long-term reinvestment plan that will foster a viable, thriving downtown. We envision a downtown that will not only benefit southwestern Pennsylvania as a robust economic generator for the region but, through its transformation, also provide a model for main streets across our 10-counties.

Inclusive Growth. Our plan is to scale up efforts to drive inclusive growth from within and outside the southwestern Pennsylvania market with intentional focus on cluster development and high-impact projects that benefit people and communities regionwide. Underpinning these efforts will be a focus on developing systemic policy solutions to optimize business conditions and meet talent needs. Through this work we are putting our existing companies — organizations that are already driving two-thirds of economic growth — front and center. While bringing in new businesses is always a priority, we want to engage regional companies — including you, our Regional Investors — to drive your success through economic development support, development of systemic policy and other strategic solutions that will enable growth across sectors of our economy.

Federal Investments. We are planning to turn up the volume on efforts to partner to pursue transformational federal investments stemming from the CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — all of which represent unprecedented opportunities to accelerate transformational economic development efforts to grow jobs and build wealth across our region’s geographic and demographic communities. The Conference is uniquely positioned to connect the marketplace with tools and resources to do this. We will develop a regional platform to help companies identify opportunities. And we’ll create a toolkit for a range of funding sources complemented with resources and technical assistance to help organizations access funds, ensuring our region earns more than its fair share.

Thought Leadership. Moving into 2024, we will fully embrace our role in driving and inspiring change in our region on important economic development issues. We will bring our strategy and research capacity to bear to lead the development of policy and other solutions related to talent, workforce, inclusive growth, cluster development and business conditions. We will convene stakeholders and build coalitions to drive policy and program changes necessary to achieve our goals. Through this work, we seek to usher in a more coordinated approach to understanding and solving systemic barriers to inclusive growth.

As we close the books on 2023, I would like to personally thank Laura Shapira Karet for her leadership, particularly during the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which she helped our region navigate. I’d also like to welcome incoming Allegheny Conference Chair David Holmberg, who will lead our efforts in this new three-year agenda. As we re-engineer the Conference for maximum impact, as is or custom with each new agenda, we are also realigning our committee structure.

We have a long road and a lot of work ahead of us. We believe our strategy will succeed but only with your help. It is through the engagement of you, our Regional Investors and partners, that we can collectively move forward toward a vibrant, inclusive future. You are the way we will achieve the best outcome and greatest stability for all people in all corners of our region.

In early 2024, the work begins in earnest. Please join us on February 8 for our annual meeting, where we will unveil the details of the new agenda and hear from the leadership moving it forward.

May you enjoy a peaceful holiday season with your friends and families, and I look forward to your partnership in 2024.

CEO Note


Stefani Pashman, CEO

As these first few weeks of 2024 unfold, an exciting era has arrived in Pittsburgh. New and returning elected leaders are taking office throughout our region, bringing with them valuable perspectives that will inform the public-private partnership that is crucial to our work at the Allegheny Conference.

This incoming wave of policymakers signals a transition for the entire region: it is through our public-private partnerships that we are able to accomplish our most significant goals, and I cannot emphasize enough how critical they are to our success.

Already, our partnerships are hard at work seeking paths toward economic development and growth for all. When our elected leaders work in harmony with the Conference’s stakeholders and the region’s businesses, we have proven that we can take on big challenges and assume the risks that are catalysts for the most meaningful change.

Toward that end, the priorities we hope to tackle across the region in 2024 include:

  • Repositioning downtown Pittsburgh for the future as a model for main streets throughout the region. 
  • Creating more responsive, predictable, consistent, and modern permitting processes.
  • Positioning our region to capture opportunities — including those for transformational federal investment — to support inclusive growth, economic development, and investments in physical and digital infrastructure.
  • Supporting external attraction, expansion, and retention of existing businesses — large and small, emerging and established — to ensure home-grown ideas and talent thrive here. 
  • Capitalizing on vast innovation assets to drive economic growth.
  • Ensuring communities in all corners of the region, especially those most in need of investment, have the resources needed to be vital and flourish.

These are just a few examples of what we at the Conference hope to accomplish in working with the newly elected and re-elected leaders across the region. As we pursue these priorities, we remain eager to hear from you, our members and stakeholders, regarding those issues that are top of mind for you as the new year begins.

In Allegheny County, there is an additional tool to make your voice heard: this community survey, which is available in multiple languages online to gauge your thoughts on housing, healthcare, safety, environment, small business support, and other topics.

On a personal note, as the first woman to lead the Allegheny Conference, I am excited to now welcome Allegheny County’s first woman executive, Sara Innamorato. It isn’t always easy to be first, but it is surely gratifying to see woman leaders making things happen in our region.

As we embrace the challenges that this year represents, I look forward to working together with all of you to achieve progress on our collective vision, and I hope you share my excitement in discovering the opportunities that lie in the months ahead.