Bridgeway Capital celebrates 29 years of assisting minority entrepreneurs

A PROUD RECIPIENT—In her Ross Park Mall location, Lundon Dunbar displays a sample of dresses sold in her boutique.

by Diane I. Daniels, For New Pittsburgh Courier

It is often said that no one is an island, and no one can accomplish their goals and dreams without the assistance of others. For the past 29 years, Bridgeway Capital has been proving that theory as they continuously provide financial assistance and education to potential and existing entrepreneurs in communities across Western Pennsylvania.

Lundon Dunbar, the owner of Lundon, a trendy fashion boutique located in Ross Park Mall, is one such dreamer. Introduced to entrepreneurship at a young age by her father who owned a convenient store on the North Side, Dunbar’s dream evolved through time as she began developing her own niche, which started with her selling jewelry in 2011. Expanding from vending to brick-and-mortar sites, first on Western Avenue, then Federal Street, as well as an expansion of inventory to clothing, shoes and handbags, the store (which at the time was called Thailand) in 2017 moved to the mall located in Ross Township in a 3,600 square-foot corner location. Until recently moving to a new location in the mall, Dunbar has been self-funded.

FINAL WORDS—Former Bridgeway Capital President and CEO Mark Peterson gives his farewell speech. (Photos by Courier photographer Diane I. Daniels)

Introduced to Bridgeway Capital by a business acquaintance, she says the organization is assisting her in further fulfilling her dream with a $25,000 loan. “I used their funding to expand inventory and to purchase additional manikins because I now have larger display space.”

Excited about the growth of the business, she said Bridgeway has helped her not only with funding but also with budgeting and other technical assistance. “Everything is coming together at the right time as I prepare for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and the holiday season.”

Including Dunbar, Lundon has a staff of four.

“Bridgeway has achieved two milestones 29 years in the making,” said its President and CEO T.J. Bogdewic during the organization’s annual event, Aug. 16 at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. “As of 2019, Bridgeway’s lending to African American owned and led businesses has surpassed the $30 million mark and our lending to women-owned and led businesses has surpassed fifty million dollars.”

BRIDGEWAY BOARD CHAIRPERSON CHUCK BROFF, former president and CEO Mark Peterson and current president and CEO T.J. Bogdewic. (Photo by Courier photographer Diane I. Daniels)

Lundon and nine other businesses highlighted during the October 16 celebration are samples of the organization’s work. The others include: Black Forge Coffee House, Hazelwood Initiative, Supreme Traffic Control, Father Ryan Arts Center, McKees Rocks CDC, Parkway Theater, Johnson’s Real Estate, Riverside Family Market and Pearl’s Serenity House.

Founded by its former president and CEO Mark Peterson, Bridgeway Capital is a nonprofit that provides loans and business education to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Its 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.

Updating an audience of over 500, Bogdewic, president and CEO since July, indicated that Peterson, parting president and CEO, left Bridgeway on a high note. “As of Sept. 30, 2019, our fiscal year end, Bridgeway’s total assets had risen to over $105 million and total loans on our balance sheet grew 15 percent to over $70 million. We are putting that money to work. Bridgeway had record deployment with over $23 million in loans made.”

He also reported that their funding has enabled borrowers to leverage an additional $52 million from other sources of capital, bringing the total dollar impact generated in 2019 to over $70 million in communities across Western Pennsylvania.

Bogdewic also pointed out that Bridgeway’s success is also in its clients and their communities. “It is the work our clients do every day,” he said. “They are building good schools and quality affordable housing. Last year, Bridgeway’s loans funded the construction of 164 affordable homes and our nonprofit clients are building new community assets and expanding the services they provide. We made almost $3 million in loans to nonprofits. Our clients are putting up storefronts that tell everyone that passes by that their towns are open for business. And they are creating jobs. In the past year alone, Bridgeway’s lending enabled entrepreneurs and small business to create or retain over 800 jobs across Western Pennsylvania.”

 

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