Equitable’s move downtown a good sign for city

Pittsburgh’s downtown just got busier — and that’s a good thing.

Equitable Resources, the company whose electric blue “Equitable Gas” sign lights up the South Side skyline, is relocating its corporate headquarters to downtown Pittsburgh, a move that will bring as many as 350 new jobs to the city by 2010.

Equitable Resources is a nationally recognized company that has called Pittsburgh home since it was founded in 1888. The company is the largest natural gas supplier in the Appalachian mountain region.

This move signifies Pittsburgh’s importance to this energy powerhouse, as its leaders chose to stay in the area rather than expand its corporate headquarters into Kentucky, Virginia, or West Virginia, all states that were vying for the move. Beyond staying here, though, the move downtown will expand the city’s downtown commercial sector, which will create a desire for more cultural and residential activity in the area — something downtown Pittsburgh needs to become a revitalized and active urban center.

The company has leased 12 floors, for a total of 257,000 square feet, in the former Dominion Tower located on Liberty Avenue downtown. Five hundred employees will be brought to this new downtown location, into a space that will eventually accommodate 700. The relocation and expansion, which are scheduled to be complete by the end of summer 2009, have been aided by $2.8 million in state assistance.

Besides meaning more energy-sector jobs for Carnegie Mellon graduates, Equitable Resources’ expansion could mean that other big-name corporations could look to downtown Pittsburgh to set up branches, or even their headquarters. Moreover, Equitable’s chairman and CEO, Murry Gerber, said at a panel discussion held on campus two weeks ago that the educational system — particularly for future engineers — needs to be updated and reformed. With new job opportunities in the city and close to our own campus, Equitable’s presence could indeed help alter this, and improve ideas about education in engineering and energy production.

We’re happy to see that, in a time of a difficult economic context in which many other large-scale corporations are downsizing, Equitable Resources is not only not going under, but actually expanding — in our very own city.