Money Plant, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Tax Credit’s photostream

For Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods to thrive, we need to create a culture of entrepreneurship in our communities. As Mayor, I want to provide every opportunity to incentivize investment in our neighborhoods. Studies show that local businesses spend as much as $68 out of every $100 in the local economy; reinforcing the revitalization of our communities and creating shared prosperity. As mayor, I will create new opportunities to support these local growth engines. New business start-ups are the leading source of job creation in any economy and we must find ways to create new entrepreneurs while supporting our existing businesses. A thriving neighborhood business district is a sign of a healthy community and we must protect and support them.

1. Using Micro-grants to Support Small Business

As Mayor, I will create a micro-grant program for small businesses located or opening in the city, particularly in our neighborhoods beyond the Golden Triangle. Modeled after dozens of successful programs in other cities across the country, this program would provide an extra boost for the companies making an impact in our neighborhoods. A grant of a few thousand dollars can help a small business begin or give an existing business the chance to make investments and improvements that can allow them to hire new employees or expand their operations.

After a preliminary review, applicable project proposals would be put up on a website for the public to vote on how micro-grant money should be allocated. Businesses will have the opportunity to pitch their projects online. My hope is that foundations, businesses, and individuals would contribute to this fund so that we could support even more entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh.

Think of it as a Pittsburgh Kickstarter, funded by all of us and with input from all of us.

This project will allow residents of every neighborhood to tell potential entrepreneurs and the city what they want to see in their local business district, then match up sound business proposals and help them find the capital and the commercial space to make their proposal a reality. With a small initial investment from the city and from partners in the micro-grant program, we can open the doors of opportunity to entrepreneurs and help existing businesses with that little extra push they need to thrive. And these investments will pay off with new jobs, healthy business districts, and new tax revenue for the city.