Workers' Capital is Re-Building Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is changing, and a large part of it is due to our own workers' capital, which has been invested to renew our built environment. Several projects in the city are coming to fruition and the SVA/Heartland Network are proud to be a part of it. We have been supporting sustainable, labor-friendly investments for over 20 years. Our work has focused on bringing back distressed Pittsburgh-region towns and neighborhoods, and our partners have been instrumental in this work.

Our first highlighted article touches upon the transformational changes coming to the Strip District. The ERECT Funds and the Bentall Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT), both Heartland partners, have been integral in investing in union-labor projects to catalyze regional development. Both will provide financing for the redevelopment of the Strip District. Who are these folks?

  • MEPT was established in the early 1980s by Landon Butler, a former housing advisor to the Carter Administration. Capitalized primarily by workers' pensions, MEPT has a commitment to both profit and people. The Fund has employed a strong responsible contractor policy and a commitment to sustainability, and it is a recognized leader in GRESB, the global real estate sustainability standard. The Fund currently owns approximately $8.6 billion in assets, and has created tens of thousands of jobs.

  • The ERECT Funds are collective real estate investment trusts capitalized by construction union pension funds and state and county sources. Managed by Jim Noland since 1987, ERECT is one of the only regional worker-friendly investors in the U.S. forcusing on commercial and industrial real estate, including to-be-built or rehab projects. The Funds have become highly visible as a catalyst for regional economic development in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and West Virginia.

Jamey Noland, Director of Underwriting at PenTrust, says about the construction:

"The redevelopment of the Produce Terminal will resurrect a significant Pittsburgh landmark. The ERECT Fund has collaborated with union leaders, city officials, and the developer, McCaffrey Interests, to assist in bringing this project to fruition. We are very excited about working with McCaffrey and their commitment to using 100% union labor on this catalytic project.

The ERECT Fund and the Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT) will provide financing for the Produce Terminal and the 1600 Smallman St office building, insuring that this project will be primarily financed by union pension fund dollars.

We are excited to be a part of bringing a project to fruition that will not only be 100% committed to union labor, but largely funded by union pension money."

Our second article, which discusses the Port Authority's continued shift towards energy-efficient transportation, demonstrates the impact of Heartland Partner KPS Capital Partners, who was instrumental in the turnaround of New Flyer Industries and a similar firm. Based in the upper Midwest and the Dakotas, New Flyer is one of the greenest bus manufacturers in North America. Previous Heartland articles about KPS' success in transportation sustainability can be found here. Co-founder and managing partner of KPS, a $5+ billion fund partly capitalized by workers' capital, is Michael Psaros, a native of Weirton. Generations of his family worked in the mills.

Finally, we discuss the development of the Mon Valley with the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation. The partnership with several area stakeholders, such as Point Park University and the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office is proving to be a fruitful partnership for the redevelopment McKeesport.

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