Entrepreneur grants target former coal, steel communities in Appalachia | TribLIVE.com
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Stephen Huba

A Pittsburgh-based nonprofit community loan fund received a $1.2 million grant to help support small businesses and entrepreneurs in Western Pennsylvania.

The grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will allow Bridgeway Capital to promote entrepreneurial activity through business development workshops, one-on-one counseling, a regional business incubator and small grants for training and licensure, ARC said.

The Western Pennsylvania Entrepreneur Diversification Fund is expected, through a combination of technical assistance and a revolving loan fund, to lead to the creation of 65 new businesses and 200 new jobs, according to ARC.

The grant is part of a $44.4 million investment package announced by ARC on Tuesday. The agency gave 54 POWER grants to underserved communities in nine Appalachian states. POWER stands for Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization.

“The downturn of the coal market has been devastating to Appalachian communities, especially those that relied on coal extraction and related supply chains for generations,” ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas said. “POWER grants are playing a critical role in supporting these communities as they diversify their economies.”

The Bridgeway Capital grant is expected to leverage $5.6 million in private investment. Private capital for the revolving loan fund is being provided by TriState Capital Bank.

Additional funding is being provided by Penn State, the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council and the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority.

Other grants targeting southwestern Pennsylvania were:

  • $50,000 to the Greene County Commissioners for the Rural Broadband Coverage and Feasibility Study.
  • $20,000 to the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council for the Fayette County Multi-Tenant Spec Building Feasibility Study.

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