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Urban Innovation21 Boosts Entrepreneurship In Underserved Communities; Awards $250K To Small Businesses

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Urban Innovation21 announces a $100,000 grant competition to assist business creation and growth in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. This initiative will provide capital to entrepreneurs who reside and/or operate small, for-profit businesses in this community. This is the organization's first step to begin connecting the Homewood community to the region's successful innovation economy.  

Since its inception in 2007, Urban Innovation21 has provided over $2.8 Million in direct capital and business assistance to local startups. The organization advances the region's innovation economy and works to include underserved communities in the region's prosperity.

This is the third grant competition just this year that Urban Innovation21, a public-private partnership, has launched to boost business development in less advantaged communities. The organization has attracted national attention for its mission to ensure that the region's rapidly growing innovation economy is inclusive and benefits all communities.

Last week Urban Innovation21 launched its annual $100K grant program for technology-based companies located in the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone. Earlier this fall, a $50K grant competition for community-based businesses in the Hill District attracted over 60 initial applications, which resulted in 45 entrepreneurs completing an educational program and submitting business plans. Winners of the Hill District competition will be announced in January.

"We are really excited about the work to connect our region's success to some of its poorest communities in a way that will ultimately provide wealth opportunities for minorities, women and resident-owned businesses," said William Generett Jr., CEO of Urban Innovation21. "With the grant competition in Homewood, we look forward to propelling business creation and growth in a community that is in need of an economic boost."

According to a study prepared by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services in 2009, the Homewood community has significantly more low-income households than the City of Pittsburgh.  It is estimated that 50 percent of the Homewood community is not in the labor force and more than one in three people are living in poverty. 

In Homewood, Urban Innovation21 will present grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, plus up to 10 awards of $500 toward no-interest micro-loans of up to $5,000 from Kiva Zip. Additionally, two technical support awards to raise funds through a crowd-funding platform will be presented.

Supply chain, support and service businesses owned by residents of Homewood and located in this community are strongly encouraged to apply.

"I want to congratulate Urban Innovation21 and Homewood entrepreneurs on this exciting opportunity," said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "Under my leadership, our City's URA is providing support to organizations that are ensuring Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance reaches neighborhoods throughout our City. Urban Innovation21 has a terrific mission that is in line with our goal to connect more jobs to communities through innovation-driven economic growth."

The Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the New York-based Surdna Foundation and the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, are funding the current grant competitions.  

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, Hill House Economic Development Corporation, Idea Foundry, Innovation Works, PA Department of Community and Economic Development, PNC Bank, Point Park University, UPMC Health Plan, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and the federal government Economic Development Administration.

Complete information on the Homewood-based grant competition, including application instructions, can be found at  www.urbaninnovation21.org/grants. Applications are due Feb. 15, 2013.

SOURCE Urban Innovation21

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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