In Pittsburgh to present the organization, Christian Evangelistic Economic Development with a $300,000 grant, Willie C. Taylor, regional director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration considers CEED as a key contributor to the region’s pursuit to empower people to implement innovative solutions to social and economic challenges.

“Your ability to serve as a catalyst for community transformation and economic growth is and will be vital to the Greater Pittsburgh region’s long-term economic well-being,” he said during a recent press conference. The grant will be used to provide technical assistance to economically distressed microenterprises in the Pittsburgh region.

COMMUNITY PLANTERS—CEED leaders Rev. Ray Parker, founder and Rufus Idris, executive director received a $300,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)

“Providing technical assistance to the region’s entrepreneurs is a key component of CEED’s economic development efforts. CEED’s work has already resulted in the creation of several successful neighborhood businesses and this funding will increase CEED’s effort to provide additional assistance to 75 new microbusinesses,” said Rufus Idris, the group’s executive director.

Also in his remarks Taylor acknowledged the leadership and support of the strategic investments of County Executive Dan Onorato that have placed Allegheny County at the forefront of regional innovation and global competitiveness as a national driver of economic development.

Pleased that the Department of Commerce and EDA recognizes the importance of CEED’s efforts to provide technical assistance to business owners, which he considers so valuable to Allegheny County’s continued economic success, Onorato said this grant will augment our existing efforts to improve economic development through microenterprises. He pointed out that this is a three way collaboration of the public sector, a faith based organization and free enterprise. CEED also received an additional $300,000 from the Heinz Endowments as a leveraged match to the EDA grant for a total of $600,000.

Since 2008 CEED, a non-profit organization located in the Highland Park community has been fulfilling its mission to revitalize, strengthen and produce healthy, self-sustaining communities through innovative programs and projects that put community members and stakeholders in the forefront of economic growth and self-sufficiency by helping connect small businesses to the economy and helping them build businesses and create jobs.

“CEED strives to put people in the driver’s seat on the path to economic growth and self-sufficiency,” Idris said. He indicated that CEED’s efforts have currently resulted in the creation of several successful neighborhood businesses and this funding will increase the organization’s capacity to provide additional assistance to 75 new microbusinesses. Idris said CEED has provided loans ranging from $100 to $5,000 to 48 small businesses, 80 percent of them new. “This new round of funding will increase the cap to $10,000,” he said.

Focused on immigrants, refugees and internationals, CEED also serves underserved and distressed urban intercity communities, single parent households, seniors and veterans. Addressing the issue of a lack of funding and technical assistance, CEED’s multidimensional programs address entrepreneurial business development—skills to wealth, workforce development, housing and non-profit service.

Appreciative of the work of Howard B. Slaughter Jr., president and CEO of Christian Management Enterprises, LLC, Onorato pointed out that through the different positions Slaughter has held he continues to work to bring money to the area. “This region is a key economic driver; there are economic development opportunities that haven’t been taken full advantage of,” Slaughter said. As a way to re-familiarize businesses, politicians, community organizations and educational institutions with the EDA, he plans to continue to organize and host roundtable discussions as he did last year to focus on national development trends, micro and macroeconomics, business development and maximizing the utilization of programs to increase public-private partnerships with federal agencies in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers and promotes American innovation and accelerates long-term sustainable economic growth. Taylor recognized that it takes a commitment like Slaughter’s aswell as leaders in federal, state, county, city government and the private sector to create higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs for the Greater Pittsburgh region and the nation. “We at the EDA appreciate the key roles that you play in ensuring that our communities have the support they need for successful economic development. You are a true champion of our mission and we appreciate all of the support you give to the agency.”

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