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PPG's Charles Bunch gives his vision for Pittsburgh

Post Time:Mar 09,2012Classify:Industry NewsView:279


Speaking to area business leaders on Wednesday, PPG Industries Inc.    PPG Industries Inc. Latest from The Business Journals Energy has big future in region, CEO saysSLIDESHOW: VisionPittsburgh with PPG's Charles BunchBorrowing Brilliance, By David Kord Murray Follow this company Chairman and CEO Charles Bunch outlined three challenges and opportunities for the Pittsburgh region at the first of four VisionPittsburgh events hosted by the Business Times.


Not surprising to most in the Pittsburgh area, high on Bunch’s list of challenges and opportunities for the region is energy. And it’s not just the natural gas industry but also other sources like solar, an industry that PPG supplies with high performance glass and coatings; wind, an industry PPG supplies with materials and coatings; and nuclear, an industry PPG (NYSE: PPG) supplies with coatings and fiberglass.


 “A key challenge worldwide is growing competition to access affordable sustainable energy,” Bunch told the crowd of more than 150 people gathered at the Duquesne Club    Duquesne Club Latest from The Business Journals Pittsburgh law firms unite to fund Downtown artsAs business improves, Pittsburgh-area companies make time to celebrateGlobal Environmental Management's Tammy Seiler thrives in construction industry Follow this company .


“We are on the cusp of an energy revolution in the U.S.,” he said.


At the same time, he said, the region must invest in its transportation infrastructure and access to the region by air in order to harness the upside of the region’s energy opportunities. Of particular focus should be the airport, since reduction in traffic and flights detracts from investment in region.


“It’s important we have an airport that can serve the needs of employees and our customers,” he said, noting that the modern, underused airport is not living up to its potential. In fact, Bunch said he was in the airport on a recent Friday afternoon, a time when you expect the place to be bustling, but “they were just empty gates.”


Bunch, also the current chair of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, said it’s a conference priority to get more flights and activity at the airport.


A third area for work by the conference and other business leaders is reforming the state’s tax structure, Bunch said, adding that he is pleased to see tax code making headlines nationally in the Republican presidential race, but that excitement needs to be brought to local tax issues as well. He noted the Pennsylvania state net income tax of 9.99 percent is the second-highest in the nation.


Taking questions from the audience, Bunch noted the region’s shale gas boom is “a game changer.” At $2.50 per million British thermal unit for natural gas, users such as the chemical industry, who use natural gas as a feedstock, are seeing the lowest costs outside of the Middle East, he said.


With the U.S.’s stable wages and the relatively weak dollar, Bunch said the U.S. has serious opportunity for growth.


“If (politicians) get behind us and stop getting in the way, I think we can really see some attractive growth that can make a difference not only in GDP growth but start to move the needle on unemployment,” he said.


The next VisionPittsburgh event is slated for May 23 and will feature Greg Babe, CEO of Bayer Corp


Source: usgnn.comAuthor: shangyi

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