(PITTSBURGH) Aug. 1, 2012 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today, joined by Brookline community stakeholders, neighborhood business district leaders and residents, officially kicked off the Pittsburgh “Biz Buzz” Program,” a small grant program designed to help smaller neighborhood business districts attract more customers through short- and medium-term marketing projects and activities. The goals of the program are to create a buzz about the business district through the use of social media and word-of-mouth, and to increase foot traffic as well as bring newcomers into the neighborhood’s businesses. Business district leaders design their own program, with support from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
“Our neighborhood business districts are the heartbeat of our communities and this program will strengthen them,” Ravenstahl said. “The Biz Buzz program gives small businesses and volunteers the tools to make an immediate impact on their districts, much like our Love Your Block revitalization program, which increases community pride and beautifies neighborhood streets.”
The program encourages projects that can be accomplished by volunteers, working with businesses. Thirty smaller, non-Mainstreets districts throughout the City are eligible. Prior to submitting an application, applicants must meet with URA staff to discuss their project or activity. If accepted, the district is awarded a grant, up to $7,000, accompanied by technical assistance and support from URA staff.
“When talking with groups, we have been stressing the ‘48x48x48’ strategy to determine what a business district group can accomplish in 48 hours, 48 days and 48 weeks,” said Josette Fitzgibbons, the URA’s Biz Buzz project manager and Mainstreets coordinator. “We want these ideas to come from the community. We’re encouraging the community to be creative, and focus on what is unique and cool about their district.”
The business district of Brookline is the first Biz Buzz grant awardee, for its “Boulevard Bucks” – a shoppers rewards program in conjunction with their “Because You're Mine, I Walk the Line: Brookline” campaign. Kicking off today, shoppers who spend a total of $50 at three the participating businesses will receive $5 in Boulevard Bucks - good for future purchases with those merchants. The participating Brookline businesses can be found at the Because You’re Mine, I Shop the Line Facebook page, or in the Brookline Shop Local printed directory. The campaign will also help patrons access businesses during the Brookline Boulevard Improvement Project construction scheduled to begin this spring (additional information below).
During the press event, the Mayor presented a check for $2,500 to Nate Mallory, Brookline Chamber of Commerce board member and owner of Cannon Coffee.
“Our proposal is designed to encourage neighborhood residents to shop locally and to rebrand the Brookline Boulevard as an entire business district – not just a couple of bakeries and a few restaurants,” said Nate Mallory. “With the help of the Biz Buzz funding, we’re hoping to get the word out about Brookline and bring in new customers – and possibly new residents!”
The URA’s Biz Buzz team is currently working with groups in Beechview and Elliot, and will soon be reaching out to other Pittsburgh neighborhoods citywide. The team plans to present 7-8 grants with the program’s current $45,000 in URA funding. The URA is currently seeking State and City funding to expand the program next year. Grant applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. For more information on the Biz Buzz Small Grant Program, visit URA.org.
ABOUT THE BROOKLINE BOULEVARD IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
The $5.8 million Brookline Boulevard Improvement Project consists of streetscape improvements to the commercial district of Brookline Boulevard from Pioneer Avenue to Starkamp Street. These improvements involve new street lights, street trees, planting beds and traffic signal equipment, as well as new pavement, pavements markings, crosswalks, ADA accommodations and sidewalks. The project is currently fully designed and funded on the City’s Federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013, finishing by mid-November.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687