Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hiring Homers

Even before Westinghouse announced it was staying in Pittsburgh and expanding, a lesser known fact was the the region had the highest concentration of nuclear engineering talent in the nation. Absent a few scientific communities in the former USSR, Pgh might have been in the running for the highest concentration in the world. What was odd for decades was that when people would talk about industrial clusters, rarely would people talk about nuclear power here despite it being the one specific industries that we arguably had the most competitive advantage in workforce wise. Maybe it was the stigma of the industry, but maybe people thought the growth forecast was so abysmal that it wasn't worth talking about. Times change.

With news that Westinghouse is expanding, the region's lead can only expand. But just recently there is more news. The potential that Bechtel may consolidate up to 800 nuclear workers from its site in Schenectady, NY (which is a lot for this industry) will have a real impact here and blunt some of the loss Monroeville may face as Westinghouse moves a lot of jobs to Cranberry. Setting aside Westinghouse, Monroeville isn't losing all of these jobs as the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin is expected to remain in place.

Also from this weekend is a long write up in the Financial Times on some new potential technology developments in the Nuclear Power industry that could conceivably be considered "disruptive". Worth a read. And if you didn't catch it, it is international news that Westinghouse signed a deal just last week to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina.

Why nuclear power is concentrated here may seem incongruous in what some may perceive as based historically in 'old' industries. Yet it all fits together when you think about it. I tried to connect those dots once in Energy Burgh.


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