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Urban Innovation21 Awards $50K, Hosts Event for Participants of Hill District Businesses Grant Competition

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- An awards ceremony to announce the winners of the Urban Innovation21 grant competition for Hill District Businesses will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Duquesne University Power Center.

This $50K is the first award of $275K that Urban Innovation21 plans this year for community-based and technology businesses.

Four months after the Hill District competition was launched, following a series of workshops and consultations, 43 entrepreneurs of the 62 who initially applied submitted their business plans to Urban Innovation21.

The Hill District is a predominantly African American community, where 40 percent of the residents live below poverty level.

"The number of participants shows that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and strong in the Hill District," said William Generett Jr., president and CEO of Urban Innovation21. " We look forward to continue working with these businesses and to connect them to our region's economic success."

At the event, 20 businesses will receive additional support:

  • One will receive a $10,000 grant
  • Six will receive $5,000 grants
  • Three will receive technical assistance awards to launch crowdfunding efforts.

Additionally, to provide assistance in non-traditional, innovative ways, Urban Innovation21, a Kiva trustee, will award $1,000 toward a Kiva Zip zero-interest loan of up to $5,000 to 10 businesses. 

Leveraging the Internet and a global network of more than 1 million lenders, Kiva provides small loans to entrepreneurs worldwide. 

"This competition generated a great deal of excitement," said Richard Witherspoon, CEO of the Hill District Credit Union and member of the competition's voting committee. "We look forward to increased entrepreneurial activity in the Hill District."

A public-private partnership, Urban Innovation21 advances our region's innovation economy and works to include underserved communities in prosperity opportunities. The organization has awarded over $300K in grants to technology businesses that are part of its Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone Program.

Urban Innovation21's ongoing support comes from the Alcoa Foundation, Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, Carlow University, Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne University, the Heinz Endowments, Hill House Economic Development Corporation, The Hillman Foundation, Idea Foundry, Innovation Works, PA Department of Community and Economic Development, PNC Bank, Point Park University, The Richard King Mellon Foundation, UPMC Health Plan, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and the US Economic Development Administration.

SOURCE Urban Innovation21

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