Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Movie star Michael Keaton is partnering with a local development firm to build a green manufacturing plant in the area that’s expected to create up to 300 jobs.
While the location is not yet confirmed, a rehabilitated brownfield site in McKees Rocks is being considered for the project.
The “Forest Grove” (Robinson) native who starred in Batman and a score of other Hollywood blockbusters, said in a press statement April 22 he was drawn to the project by his commitment to environmental causes and the future of his hometown.
“[The new plant] will create more than 300 green, healthy job opportunities and help revitalize my hometown in a way that helps folks right now while paving the way for future generations,” Keaton said in a press release.
To make it happen, Keaton has teamed up with a Canadian sustainable manufacturing firm, Nexii Building Solutions, and Craig Rippole, a Sto-Rox graduate and partner of Emsworth-based Trinity Commercial Development.
The group, formed as Trinity Sustainable Solutions, are considering sites in the Pittsburgh region, which Rippole said include the former P&LE site he owns in McKees Rocks.
“[The site] certainly hits the profile…while recognizing there are a lot of things to consider,” Rippole said. “I think the world of McKees Rocks and I love the site but there’s a lot of factors to consider. We’re gonna do our due diligence and evaluate.”
Rippole said, through his ongoing work to redevelop the P&LE site, he saw first-hand the waste involved in conventional development and construction projects and started to consider more sustainable models. When, sometime last year, he attended a webinar about Nexii’s sustainable construction methods, it led to an"Aha! moment," he said.
“There’s just a better way to do things.”
Headquartered in Vancouver, Nexii designs and manufactures sustainable buildings and building materials. In December 2020, Nexii built a first of its kind sustainable Starbucks drive-thru location design to reduce emissions by 30% and the firm has also built a range of commercial and residential structures.
The proposed Pittsburgh development will be the company’s sixth location and its second in the U.S.
Knowing Keaton’s advocacy for all things Pittsburgh and all things sustainable, Rippole said he tracked down Keaton through a mutual friend.
“Michael’s an unabashed environmentalist and he loves Pittsburgh… When I found out his mother grew up on Churchill Street [on a hill overlooking the P&LE site], I put all these pieces together,” Rippole said.