Citizens Bank donates $75,000 to Hill District

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The Citizens Bank Foundation has chosen the Hill District as this region's first recipient of a $75,000 grant to boost small businesses, promote home ownership, provide financial education and build the neighborhood workforce.

The Hill District Community Development Corp. will manage the grant to fuel ongoing efforts by organizations and nonprofits that include Innovation 21, a small business incubator, Duquesne University's Small Business Development Center and developers.

At a ceremony Tuesday at the Thelma Lovette YMCA on Centre Avenue, Dan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Citizens Bank for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, said the Growing Communities initiative has enhanced revitalization projects in eight states since 2010 "to promote the urban agenda."

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said bank officers asked him "which neighborhood is ready to have an impact, and the answer was easy. The Hill District is happening."

Of the $75,000, $5,000 will be used to analyze the gaps between development in the neighborhood and neighborhood's workforce readiness. The bulk of the money, $57,000, will be used to link university efforts with local organizations to nurture small businesses.

The community development corporation will use $10,000 of the money to help 100 people prepare to sustain home ownership in the neighborhood. The grant will provide $3,000 for monthly financial education classes for entrepreneurs and residents.

"This $75,000 is just the beginning of our relationship with the Hill District," Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

Marimba Milliones, executive director of the community development corporation, said the neighborhood is ready to make the most of the grant, "from the level of business development to the collaborations and grassroots activities that say, 'Here we come.' "

A major focus will be "to connect the neighborhood-based businesses with the development of the Hill," in coordination with the Pittsburgh Housing Authority, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and developers that include KBK Enterprises and TREK Development, she said.

City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle said the neighborhood has reached the point "where now we want to develop people's lives. All the development is great, but if we don't connect people to jobs and make sure they have a house to live in and can participate, all that work we've done is for naught."

neigh_city - businessnews

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626. Read her blog City Walkabout at www.post-gazette.com/citywalk. First Published October 8, 2013 8:00 PM


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