The program, called Connecting Urban Entrepreneurs (CUE), brought together 11 small business owners from Larimer, East Liberty, Garfield, and Homewood to teach everything from creating and maintaining websites to the benefits of social media in reaching potential customers.
The pilot was a collaboration among the City’s Department of Innovation & Performance, Google, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Urban Innovation21, The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, Davis Consulting Solutions, CEED, Kiva Zip, Bridgeway Capital, and The Kingsley Center.
The initiative was launched after the group met at Google Pittsburgh last fall to discuss ways to support Pittsburgh’s urban entrepreneurs. Once the pilot program is evaluated, plans are to establish similar programs in other Carnegie Library branches around the city and eventually build a model program that can be replicated in other cities around the country.
“Pittsburgh is making a name for itself as an urban lab bringing together the most inclusive methods of innovation, and CUE is an exciting new example of that. I couldn’t be happier about the project and the collaboration with our many great partners that got us here,” Mayor William Peduto said.
“The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University is thrilled that we have been able to help innovate a series of workshops for urban entrepreneurs to provide them with valuable digital skills they need to move ahead with their businesses,” said the center’s director Rebecca U. Harris. “Furthermore, a number of exemplary community partners have joined together to ensure the successful outcome of this program, making this a model example of Pittsburgh’s ability to combine many diverse communities together to rally for a mutually beneficial common goal.”
“Urban Innovation21 is excited to support the Mayor’s inclusive innovation strategy by helping entrepreneurs maximize their use of technology to create strong businesses. This pilot was a big success and if scaled will play a big part in closing Pittsburgh’s digital divide,” said Bill Generett of Urban Innovation21.
Members of the media are invited to the final workshop session tomorrow night at the Carnegie Library’s East Liberty branch, and meet entrepreneurs who participated in the program. Welcoming remarks are set to begin at 6:45 p.m.
“I really enjoyed this program,” said Wahad Ansar of Three Generations Barber Shop. “Not only did it help me create a website for my business and take it to the next level, it also gave me the confidence to work on the site at home even though I am not that computer savvy. I also met other entrepreneurs who were in the same position as me. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun.”
“I couldn’t have stumbled into CUE at a better time. I was helping some friends in their beginning stages of web presence and had been invited to the class as assistance. At the time, I had also been actively trying to figure out the direction of my own online store as well and had heard nothing but good things about Squarespace. I was reluctant to dive in because I thought that it was going to be too difficult and time consuming to learn. While being a ‘visitor’ and helping my friends I had learned so much in just one sitting that I then asked to join the group. CUE then welcomed me with open arms. The connections and mentors are so driven to help you succeed in any way possible,” said Tonisha Fawcett of Have Knotz.
“CUE provided a great opportunity for our business, In A Reel. We were able to create a professional website, network with other businesses and mentors and secure new clients. The mentors provided an excellent experience well worth our time,” said Stephanie and Walter Lewis of In A Reel.
More information is available at the CUE website.
The final workshop session is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, 2015, at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh East Liberty branch, 130 S. Whitfield Street.