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READY FOR BUSINESS—Owners of Sugar Plum Parties introduce their fun children’s party business to the Bridgeway event participants. From left: Ian Haywood, Tim Harris, Emanuel Graves and Beth Graves. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)

After completing a successful 2018, the board of directors and staff of Bridgeway Capital are preparing for 2019. “The results Bridgeway achieved this year are significant and inspire us to do more,” said Mark Peterson, president and CEO. “In 2019, we will continue to use our resources to connect communities that have been left behind by the mainstream economy.”

Peterson made these comments while speaking to a crowd of 600 during their 28th Annual Event, Oct. 24. A nonprofit that provides loans and business education to entrepreneurs and small businesses, Bridgeway’s mission is to make Western Pennsylvania a thriving region for all by promoting economic opportunity and community revitalization. By assisting underserved populations their goal is to ignite business and job growth, to develop communities, to support entrepreneurs and to expand vital services that strengthen the region.

Peterson announced that Bridgeway is celebrating another record-breaking year of impact by investing $22 million into projects and people. He said the money was used for 107 loans and 40 grants. He noted that last year, Bridgeway raised more than $8.7 million in new capital to make transformative investments. Throughout the group’s 28-year history, he reported, “We have made $28 million in 408 loans to enterprises owned or led by African Americans. Businesses and enterprises owned or led by women received $46 million in 505 loans.

Three businesses highlighted in a video during Peterson’s remarks included; House of Veterans in Homewood, West Point Ballet in Coraopolis and the Bakery Society Pittsburgh, located in Mt Oliver. Consisting of four houses, House of Veterans provides a safe and stable foundation of housing, life skills and support services on which recovery, empowerment, and self-sufficiency can be developed for veterans. Directed by former dancers of National Ballet of Cuba, Florida Classical Ballet, Columbia Classical Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, West Point Ballet offers a wide range of dance classes and performance opportunities from pre-school to advanced levels.

With the goal to propel emerging bakers into successful careers and labeled as the region’s first and only bakery incubator, TBSP’s mission is to support and advance a sustainable baking and business community through revitalization, training, and accessibility. Currently there are four bakers-in-residence.

“Our numbers live in people all over Western Pennsylvania. People who are independent thinkers and creative risk takers. They are relentless. They lead projects that take hard work and grit,” said Peterson.

Other featured businesses of the evening included Weatherspoon and Williams LLC, 412 Food Rescue, Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship, Sugar Plum Parties, Make and Matter, the Lawrenceville Corporation Community Land Trust Homes and the evening’s departing gift was provided by Glenn’s Cookies. Music for the evening was provided by the Center of Life jazz band, the handcrafted 2018 Impact Award was made by Stak Ceramics and Naked Geometry and food for the event by Big Burrito.

Recognized for his leadership and commitment to strengthening businesses and communities in South Pittsburgh, Greg Jones, executive director of Economic Development South (EDS), received the Bridgeway Capital 2018 Impact Award. According to Bridgeway, Jones has grown EDS from a small local community development corporation into one of the largest most comprehensive economic development entities in the region. Over the last seven years the organization has been responsible for nearly $20 million in new development.

EDS is a unique multi-municipal, corridor-based community development corporation that encompasses a significant portion of the South Pittsburgh/South Hills region of Allegheny County. Combined, its communities total nearly 13,000 residents and over 4,000 businesses. The mission of EDS is to strengthen the business and residential communities by building innovative partnerships throughout neighborhoods south of Pittsburgh.

Projects EDS have been involved with include the Bakery Society of Pittsburgh, the Carrick Dairy District project and the Hillcrest Senior Living affordable housing project, also in Carrick. Its most recent project includes the Produce Marketplace located in Clairton which opened Oct. 27. Located in the heart of Clairton at 519 St. Clair Ave., Produce Marketplace will serve Clairton and surrounding communities by offering 1,000 square-feet of retail space featuring a diverse selection of grocery items, while focusing on freshness, quality, and affordability. A selection of dairy, bread, deli, meat and poultry, and a wide-variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will be sold. The Produce Marketplace fills a void in Clairton of access to fresh goods since its last grocer closed 12 years ago. Funding support for the Produce Marketplace also was provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, specifically the Neighborhood Partnership Program and its funders BNY Mellon and Highmark. Bridgeway Capital also provided financial support and expertise throughout the project.

Another accomplishment of Bridgeway is the 7800 Susquehanna St. building in Homewood located in the former Westinghouse Electric facility built in the 1920s. “Five years ago, Bridgeway undertook this project that was a little bit outside our core competency,” said Peterson. “With funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, PNC and the Urban Redevelopment Authority to get started, we set out to redevelop the almost vacant and old industrial property. This challenging project has been a success for all constituencies. Homewood has gained a valuable asset. An eyesore and environmental problem has been cleaned up and put to productive use. The tenants of the building now provide training and good jobs for local residents and Bridgeway has added another dimension to our ability to impact our target markets.”

The site is being utilized for artists and light manufacturers.

 

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