Urban Innovation21: Building Up Entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh, PA

Leeretta Payne is the owner of Legacy Café, leading entrepreneurship in the community she grew up in, the Hill District. The Hill District is a historic community in Pittsburgh, PA which was once known nationally for its vibrant culture, literary scene, jazz, and successful businesses. Growing up, Leeretta worked in Eddie’s Restaurant and experienced the food industry while engaging with the community. Unfortunately, since then, Eddie’s restaurant and many other Hill District businesses have closed, decreasing the number of jobs in the community, but a few new businesses have opened.

The Legacy Café is a mobile café catering company. It was the first business endorsed by Urban Innovation21 and had a story so compelling that it was fully funded within 24 hours. Leeretta was able to purchase cooking materials and equipment upon receiving the loan. Most recently, she has catered City of Pittsburgh-Allegheny County events and continues to gain additional business based on referrals.

Scott Thomas-Tunstalle of Power 59 Construction is the tenth entrepreneur to be endorsed by Urban Innovation21 for a Kiva Zip loan and is currently fundraising a $5,000 loan. Power 59 Construction offers renovation and repair services for residential and commercial properties in the Pittsburgh region. Scott is a Hill District business owner looking to employ residents from the community while providing quality and reliable work to all clients.

These are just two of the ten business owners that Urban Innovaton21 has endorsed for a Kiva Zip loan since March 2013. Nine of the loans have been fully funded for a collective total of $35,500, and one is fundraising currently. Urban Innovation21 is proud to have reached the status of Tier Three Trustee - the first in Pennsylvania and the eighth in the United States. In addition to endorsing businesses for Kiva Zip loans, Urban Innovation21 provides clients with a range of other services, including pro bono legal services from Reed Smith. One of our flagship programs is a community-based grant competition that includes business workshops as well as the potential to win a grant.

Urban Innovation21 greatly appreciates the ongoing support of Kiva Zip and its international community of lenders for the business owners we serve, and we hope you will consider lending to Scott today.

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Posted by James Myers Jr., Community Engagement and Business Development Manager at Urban Innovation21

Sep 10, 2014

James Myers Jr. is the Community Engagement and Business Development Manager at Urban Innovation21, where he recruits and mentors entrepreneurs who aspire to start a business or have an existing business they would like to expand. He leads an economic development initiative that educates, inspires, and supports small businesses in under-served communities via community-based grant competitions. He serves on the board of the Laurel Highlands Council – Boy Scouts of America, New Hill District Business Association, and Hill District Growth Development Fund. James works in collaboration with the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center and other business support organizations. He also serves as a presenter for Urban Innovation21 programs at business and education conferences.

James is a recent graduate of Carlow University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Business Management. While attending Carlow University, he was recognized for academic excellence and received the Kathleen Wynne Hufnagel Memorial Endowed Scholarship in recognition of contributing to the betterment of communities in Pittsburgh. James is a graduate of the Coro Civic Leadership Program and a member of the National Black MBA Association, Pittsburgh Chapter. His career path includes being an educator, coordinator, and consultant. James is a Pittsburgh native and looks to continuously build up the Pittsburgh region with business resources.

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