To the basic person Charles “Chuck” Powell is just a regular guy, but according to District Director of the Western Pennsylvania U.S. Small Business Association Carl Knoblock, Powell has given so much back to neighborhood small businesses through his leadership and commitment.

“He serves as an example of how government leaders can strive for community involvement and betterment. He truly is an asset,” attested Knoblock. As a part of the thirty-fifth Small Business Awards Luncheon and Trade Show, Powell was one of nine people recognized for their commitment and accomplishments in the business arena. Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Andy Russell served as the luncheon speaker.

A PROUD MOMENT—Wife Diane steals a moment with awardee Chuck Powell during the Small Business Awards Luncheon and Trade Show.

Powell, director of diversity affairs and community outreach for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh is credited throughout his 20-year tenure for leveraging more than $500 million contract dollars for women and minority businesses. “I am humbled, overwhelmed and pleased to be recognized,” he said.

Powell was honored as the Western Pennsylvania Minority Small Business Champion of the Year. The other recipients were Rebecca MacBlane of the Regional Funding Development Corporation, John E. Graf of The Priority Hospitality Group, Jeffrey Butland, Art Green of the Senior Core of Retired Executives Chapter Seven, Eileen B. Melvin of United Metal Fabricators Inc., Joe Santelli of Santelli Tempered Glass, Barbara VanKirk of IQ Inc., Chris Sidick of the C-Side Sports Academy, and Senator John Pippy.

Involved in community development work throughout his 40-year career, Powell, a McDonald, Pa. native and Virginia Union University graduate, has always strived to work constructively on behalf of the region’s minority community. His recent efforts have resulted in the Target development site in East Liberty awarding women and minority firms 42 percent of the contract and subcontract work, which exceeded the 25 percent goal set by the mayor and URA board. The store is expected to open in July.

Incorporated in 1946 to serve as the City’s economic development agency, Powell explains his role with the URA as focusing on training and community outreach. Its goals are to create jobs, increase the city’s tax base, and improve the vitality of businesses, neighborhoods, and the city’s livability as a whole. Powell says the URA offers a variety of programs and financing products that range from assisting low-income clients achieve home ownership to reclaiming brownfields for new development and helping communities reinvent themselves. He pointed out that through its Business Development Center there are a suite of loan programs designed to help businesses leverage the capital necessary for their growth and success.

For businesses to survive and prosper in today’s economy, Powell suggests entrepreneurs collaborate and form partnerships. “Businesses need to grow beyond the mom and pop style ventures. In order to compete globally businesses should work together, hire skilled workers and be fully capitalized,” he said.

He advocates for potential entrepreneurs to consider going into businesses in the fields of technology, pharmaceuticals, green industries and services within the Marcellus Shale project.

Thinking big, working hard and having a dream is Russell’s business philosophy. Since retiring from his 10 year career as a Steeler he has written three books and is currently a managing partner of Laurel Mountain Partners and an investor in Liberty Waste Tire, companies located in Pittsburgh. He is also the founder and former chairman of Russell, Rea and Zappala, an investment banking firm. Perseverance, never quitting and widening one’s scope was his advice to a capacity audience of more than 300.

The luncheon was held in conjunction with the 48th celebration of National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C.

The Pittsburgh district office of the SBA located on Seventh Street in Pittsburgh is responsible for the delivery of SBA programs and services to 27 counties in western Pennsylvania. Committed to forming a closer partnership with lenders and with the community at large, Knoblock pointed out that over the years, the SBA has developed many small business loan and assistance programs, special outreach efforts and initiatives to aid and inform small businesses within the region.

“I see first-hand what the SBA does,” said Powell. “I encourage businesses to utilize their services. I am honored to be recognized by a federal organization that believes in providing support and education to small business to enable them to operate, develop and grow within the region.”

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