Programs 2021 Year-in-Review

Programs 2021 Year-in-Review

The Hill CDC has continued to work to bring the Greater Hill District Master Plan (GHDMP) to life by developing innovative economic development programs and advancing initiatives for economic empowerment in the areas of small business and entrepreneurship development, homeownership preparation, and arts and culture. Our economic development work builds upon the cultural legacy of the Hill District, bringing it in to the future redevelopment of the neighborhood. In 2021, we focused on maximizing minority and women owned business participation in upcoming development projects in the neighborhood, helping our business community make the technological pivot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as training and resources for capital accessibility and readiness for business growth, continuing to grow our Hill District 100 members list for interested homeowners and partnering on monthly preparation workshops, and the launch of our Nafasi Artist Residency and community programming.

Small Business/Entrepreneurship

This year, we have served over 130 small businesses/entrepreneurs through workshops; one-on-one technical support with or university partners and the county; and creation of and connection to opportunities, resources, and other events.

MBE Maximization

In 2019, the Hill CDC launched our MBE Maximization Initiative with our own New Granada Square redevelopment project as our test. The Hill CDC utilizes the development principles established by the Greater Hill District Master Plan to facilitate economic empowerment and commercial development. To that end, our mission is to ensure that community residents, organizations, and businesses gain social and economic benefits from neighborhood revitalization efforts by creating new opportunities for entrepreneurship and equity and engaging and hiring from the neighborhood's workforce and minority businesses. Since launching, we have continued to grow the initiative with development partners, technician partners, resources, opportunities, and more.

As of 2021, we have over 300 MBEs, WBEs, and Section III Business Concerns in the construction trades (pre, during, and post) as members of our initiative. We meet with development teams for upcoming projects in the neighborhood to partner on recruitment and engagement of MWBEs for maximum participation, including in the past year the University of Pittsburgh, Big Tom's, MVH Partners, the City, and Duquesne University. We also distributed business opportunities at the University of Pittsburgh, the Convention Center, small scale projects in the neighborhood, the Lower Hill, and of course our own New Granada Historic Building to our members. Lastly, we partnered with Bridgeway Capital to host an information session about their BID Program, which provides estimating, bidding, project management, accounting, human resources, and other small business support for free to to businesses in the construction, contracting, or trucking industries that are (1) 51% or greater Black-owned and (2) Located in a low-to-moderate income area and/or employ low-income individuals.

Learn more about MBE Maximization here.

Hill Tech Society

Hill Tech Society is the latest initiative at the Hill CDC with the goal of building a vibrant technological, innovation, and business community in the Hill District. It was launched in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help our small business community respond and pivot to the technological needs for business to thrive and grow. In 2021, we continued our Biz + Tech Bootcamp sessions and selected and awarded free tech devices in our New Year Device Giveaway.

The Bootcamp was focused on introducing the technology skills that are needed in the retail, food, construction, and artist/creative industries in a post-COVID-19 society. By the end of the Boot Camp, participants understood each technology concept and how it fits within their current business model; designed a template to create operational workflows for their business; understood project management software applications; developed and built an enticing profile on social media and enhanced their brand toolkit; understood and identified the best financial management apps for their business; learned to write a business proposal; identified File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites vs. platform-based systems in construction and much more!

Small Businesses are a cornerstone of the American economy, with $6 trillion in economic output and employing 85 Million Americans. Small Businesses have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 pandemic, with one in five small businesses closed temporarily or permanently. With social distancing restrictions in place, small business owners are counting on technology more than ever, to reach customers, market their products, and expand their business. The Hill CDC started 2021 supporting our small business community, helping them to pivot in response to COVID-19 by gifting them with their tech device needs. As such, we gave away a limited number of tech devices to Hill District businesses in need.

These graphics show the statistics from our awardees and the importance of technology for Black owned small businesses!

Learn more about Hill Tech Society here.

Capital Accessibility and Readiness

In response to feedback we heard from our small business community, we partnered with Bridgeway Capital to create and present a three-part "Capital Readiness and Accessibility" Webinar Series. Small businesses need to be capital-ready to secure funding for growth. A business's capital readiness is measured by the business's ability to prove financial stability to potential investors. This series helped emerging entrepreneurs and established small businesses prepare for and access the funding they need to grow sustainably and successfully. For entrepreneurs on the fence about financing, this series helped them develop tools and techniques for keeping up their businesses' financial health.

Hill's Kitchen x HD Rising Food District

The Hill CDC is developing a Black commercial and cultural corridor along Centre Avenue. The New Granada Square is the heart of the Hill CDC's economic development work and will serve as the foundation for future development of the Black cultural and business corridor along Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh's historic Hill District neighborhood. In October of 2020, we held two focus groups to hear more from Black-owned food based businesses in the region. In 2021, we returned with two info sessions and real estate tours to connect our network of food entrepreneurs to the upcoming opportunities and the next steps to get first dibs at the spaces that will be available, including funding opportunities.

Hill's Kitchen is an initiative of the Hill CDC that is designed to build a corps of food-based entrepreneurs ready to take advantage of the opportunities offered by redevelopment in the Hill District, including reviving the neighborhood by bringing restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes back to the community. In addition to an existing, available restaurant space, there will be a broad range of food spaces introduced to the business corridor over the next several years -- a food hall, retail spaces, co-op kitchen and more will set the stage for a regional food district.

HD Rising is focused on pipelining businesses that are interested in locating or staying in the Hill District. Businesses will have the ability to identify their needs and be connected to spaces that are tailored to their preferences, and also connected to resources.

Learn more about Hill's Kitchen here and HD Rising here.

Hill District 100

Homeownership is key in wealth and community building! The Hill District 100 is an initiative of the Hill CDC that focuses on the revitalization of the Hill District neighborhood through affordable homeownership. The initiative also embraces the Hill District's rich cultural legacy while advancing revitalization. The Hill District 100 provides relevant and meaningful education and support to potential home buyers to systematically grow the Hill District, increase wealth, and transform the community.

This year we continued to partner with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and HACP to host monthly Operation Home workshops in which we trained over 100 individuals, the overwhelming majority of whom are first-time homebuyers, for homeownership.

In 2021, we also partnered with Key Bank, Neighborworks of Western PA, First National Bank, and State Farm Insurance to connect our members to resources to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

Join our Hill District 100 initiative here by clicking the orange "subscribe" today button and filling out the form.

Nafasi on Centre

This year, after COVID-19 delays, we launched our much-anticipated Nafasi Artist Residency and community Programming. Nafasi on Centre is a community development initiative utilizing art as the vehicle and is a partnership between the Hill CDC and #ArtsinHD, an action planning group, and a subcommittee of the Hill District Consensus Group. 6 artists and creatives were selected through an open application process to be residents at Nafasi on Centre to develop the creative business practice and entrepreneurial skills and participate in the redevelopment of the neighborhood.

Creative Business Development

This year the 6 residents received training and creative business development in the areas of:

  • Individual success planning, business planning/strategies
  • Branding, marketing, merchandising of art products
  • Understanding contracts and necessary legal documents
  • Clifton's Strength's assessments & coaching
  • Group wellness session
  • Weekly meetings

Our Creative Business Development Partners

Community Programming

We also designed and stewarded community programming to enliven the Centre Avenue corridor and engage the community around Black arts and culture. This year, we hosted:

  • Visions of Now Gallery Exhibition
  • Carousel Cafe Virtual Tasting with Chef Olafemi
  • Buyers & Bites Gallery & Brunch Events
  • Centre Avenue Mural Community Workshops with YaYa Hough + CMOA 58th International
  • Nafasi + University of Pittsburgh "History of Black Pittsburgh" with Professor Glasco
  • Nafasi + Black Environmentalists Collective + Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Summer Art Market
  • Nafasi Artist Conversation Series

Learn more about these events and Nafasi here.

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