by Christian Morrow
Courier Staff Writer
Thanks to federal initiatives on two different fronts, Pittsburgh will see and influx of funding designed to help businesses expand and hire new employees. There is also funding for training people to acquire the skills those jobs will require.
“We’re really very excited about this,” said Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone President and CEO William Generett Jr. “There were only 20 awards made out of 200 applications submitted nationally. Our group was the only one in the state to receive this funding.”
What Generett’s organization, the Hill House Association and the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence received was $1.9 million in job and economic growth funding aimed at underserved communities.
“Our proposal addresses longstanding racial economic disparities in our region,” he said. “It creates opportunities for residents of communities that haven’t yet benefited from the region’s economic transformation.”
The PCKIZ will direct part of the funding, about $850,000 toward generating new business growth in the targeted communities of the Hill District, East Liberty, Garfield, Larimer, Lincoln and Homewood.
The Hill House, together with the Community College of Allegheny County and the Hill Community Development Corporation, will receive $900,000 to recruit individuals in distressed neighborhoods to participate in training programs that will prepare them for career advancement in the energy and healthcare fields.
“Collectively these activities will produce a critical mass of programming that will have a substantial impact on these neighborhoods, says Cheryl Hall-Russell, president and CEO of the Hill House Association. “Hill House looks forward to partnering with CCAC and Hill CDC to provide advanced job training opportunities for individuals.”
The remaining $150,000 will be used jointly by the IEE and Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center to provide individualized business management, consulting and educational programs to new and existing businesses.
The funding comes in the form of grants from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the Employment and Training Administration and the Small Business Administration as part of the Obama administration’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hailed the award.
“Connecting residents in the Hill District and East End neighborhoods to the new jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities provided by the energy and health care sectors is essential to the continued revitalization of those communities,” he said.
In addition to the grant award, on Sept. 28, the U.S. Treasury announced that Bridgeway Capital had received $1.8 million as part of the departments Small Business Lending Fund, and the Northside Community Development Fund had also received $250,000. The Fund is designed to provide small businesses with capital for expansion and job creation.
Bridgeway is an active lender in the African-American business community, having assisted Black-owned companies like Cosmos Technologies. It also counts Richard Witherspoon, president and CEO of the Hill District Federal Credit Union among its board of directors.
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