Pittsburgh URA announces help from new businesses including cafe, event planning company and smoothie bar

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority announced Thursday that its first pilot URA Ventures has closed its first batch of investments in Main Street, including a cafe, an event planning company and a pressed juice and smoothie bar. .

The program, announced by the URA in March, aims to encourage minority entrepreneurship through financial assistance to such businesses.

“The Venture Pilot is the type of program we need to address the inequities in the business world when it comes to access to capital for MWBE businesses,” Mayor Ed Gainey said, referring to minority-owned businesses. and to women.

URA Ventures is a diversity-focused seed fund that seeks to invest in minority or women-owned businesses in the city.

The program aims to make strategic investments in these businesses, accelerating access to and availability of capital for historically disadvantaged small businesses. The program, URA officials said, hopes to create quality jobs and spur economic growth.

Main Street Ventures, part of the URA Ventures pilot program, provides revenue-based investments in starting and growing local small businesses that serve Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

“These companies and what they do for their communities aligns with the mission of the Ventures program as well as the work of the URA,” said URA Deputy Chief Executive Susheela Nemani-Stanger. “We look forward to helping these passionate and creative entrepreneurs advance their business. »

New businesses in this group include Hazelwood Cafe, Blanket & Board and Live Fresh Pressed Juice + Smoothie Bar.

• Hazelwood Cafe, located on Second Avenue, is a cafe specializing in African coffee and its history.

• Blanket & Board is an event company that offers luxury picnics across the city. Their services include deli boxes, picnic facilities and catering for private events.

• With locations in Homestead and Northside, Live Fresh Cold Pressed Juice + Smoothie Bar serves all natural cold pressed juices, fresh fruit smoothies, and acai and smoothie bowls.

“I’m excited to see the Ventures program moving forward,” said R. Daniel Lavelle, vice chairman of the URA board and member of the Pittsburgh City Council. “The program is designed to provide many benefits, including opportunities for wealth creation and economic stability in communities where it is needed most, especially in the hallways of the Avenues of Hope.”

The URA has received more than 100 applications for the program, according to Chief Strategy Officer Tom Link.

Lavelle said the demand for the program highlighted “the fact that there is clearly a need here.” He urged private sector actors and banking and philanthropic organizations to partner with the URA to scale up the initiative.

Link estimated that the program will be able to support around 25 to 30 companies.

Julia Felton is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Robert M. Larson