Comcast helps small-sized businesses in the Pittsburgh area by raising grants.

From 2022 onwards, Comcast Corp. has initiated a program to help support representation, investment, strength, and empowerment through grants, marketing, media, and technology support to small-sized businesses.

The Comcast RISE program: Representation, Strength, Investment, Empowerment, Strength, and Empowerment It was launched with the provision of support to small-scale companies owned by people of ethnicity, which includes Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian American, as well as other groups. The program was expanded in November. RISE extended its reach to female-owned businesses.

RISE was launched in 2020 by awarding technology and marketing grants. The grants are advertised throughout the year, with an annual calendar. The current window to apply for tech grants is closed in October. 18. The business will have the Comcast Business internet service and computers if chosen for this grant type. Marketing grants are intended for marketing.

Although these grant opportunities continue to be available, RISE expanded to a branch program called”the Comcast RISE Investment Fund. Every year five cities across the United States are selected. The year this was, Pittsburgh was one of the five locations together the cities of Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. One hundred small-scale businesses from each city are selected to receive $10,000 in grants.

“We looked at cities where there is high impact in terms of the number of Black, Indigenous or people of color, or women-owned small businesses, and the impact the pandemic has had on that demographic,” explained Josephine Posti director of public relations at Comcast’s Keystone region. “So this past round, Pittsburgh was one of the cities selected and given $1 million that we awarded 100 small businesses in $10,000 grants.”

Alongside receiving funds, the winning company has also been given a membership to Ureeka, which teaches businesses how to develop and survive. Various industries in Allegheny County won grants, comprising 12 restaurants, 15 retail stores, eight enterprises, consumers, and 20 health businesses, fitness, and wellness.

Each company has its project for which they will use the grant funds and have given away the knowledge they’ve learned through Ureeka with small-sized businesses.

“What I’m struck by is that many of these small businesses are businesses that support other small businesses in their communities,” Posti said. Posts. “I feel like supporting local businesses has a ripple effect.”

“Making my shop more accessible.”

Comcast

One of the companies awarded a grant included PMA Tattoo, located in McKees Rocks. The shop owner Sara Eve Rivera intends to use the money to improve access to her business.

“For about three years now, I have had this goal of making my tattoo shop accessible to all types of bodies,” Rivera said. Rivera.

Her McKees Rocks store has steps to the front door and a bathroom hidden beneath a staircase within the shop. With the help of rising, Rivera plans to create a ramp right at the front of the store and renovate the bathroom to be accessible for disabled people.

“I want people to be able to use the shop safely and feel welcome when they come in,” said Rivera. “Accessibility to all is essential, especially in Pittsburgh with all the old buildings and hills that only have steps to get in. I wish everyone to feel at ease in this place.”

When Rivera received the estimate regarding the ramps, she was aware that she’d need additional money to allow her dream to become a reality. The business at the shop has been great. However, covid has encountered certain obstacles to earning the funds needed.

Because tattooing is a very close-contact occupation, Rivera takes stringent regulations to ensure the safety of her customers and staff. Customers are aware of the dangers of getting sick during an appointment. They take precautions to ensure that everyone is protected. This has resulted in cancellations and rescheduling, which caused a daily schedule to become somewhat uncertain.

“My clients have been so patient and understanding with us trying to get this ramp,” said Rivera. “We’ve been blessed with several customers who need this assistance to get into or out of the store. They’ve been in and out, taking advantage of our resources until our plans are approved.”

‘Still overcoming challenges.

Another successful business can be found at Una Biologicals in Homewood. Jessica Graves started organic skincare and the spiritual store on the 8th of January, 2008. After surviving the epidemic, Graves found that without significant access to grants due to her company’s for-profit status, she’d need to seek out a specific budget that had requirements that her shop could meet.

“I think a lot of small businesses, mine included, made it through the pandemic, but we’re still overcoming challenges,” said Graves. “Cost for goods have risen. There are shortages of workers. Pay rises are rising, and there’s plenty of pressure associated with these problems. A lack of money goes to for-profit businesses to address the issues.”

Another element of the grant that attracted Graves to apply was business-related coaching provided by Creek. She intends to use the lessons learned from digital marketing to draw more attention to her online store.

“I think this is a piece that a lot of small businesses in general struggle with, so an opportunity to work with some professionals to increase our skills in that is pretty amazing,” said Graves.

Every winner was given a year-long membership in Ureeka’s business coaching. Membership includes a site review, how to increase more visitors to your site, determining the most effective platforms for your business’s marketing, and the best way to take on digital marketing generally.

“If you’re not a marketing person, which most small business owners are not, it can be like a second language,” said Graves. “Having somebody give you some framework and real input is fabulous.”

Graves plans to apply the grant funds towards purchasing new equipment for her company and improving the digital marketing of her business.

“Our goal is to use this as an opportunity to grow,” she added. “Many businesses haven’t been able to grow during the pandemic and have just been stuck in survival mode.”

Una Biologicals will be launching its fall line very soon. It will include a harvest-themed soap, an essential oil blend that is themed around autumn, and other seasonal items. They’ll also host several classes and workshops in the brand new Una Biologicals storefront in Lawrenceville.

“Still feeling the impact.”

Jennifer Saffron, the owner of Sprezzatura PGH LLC in Millvale, was informed about the grant through informational seminars organized to aid entrepreneurs and emails from other small-business owners.

“We have certainly applied for as much help as possible during covid,” said Saffron. “I know that people may be relating this time to a post-covid reality because people are not requiring masks all the time and things like that, but in small business, all of us are still feeling the impact, especially in the food industry.”

Sprezzatura is an element of Millvale Food and Energy Hub. The cafe is an area for the community and can be utilized in various ways. In addition to offering food items, Sprezzatura offers catering, wholesales at the Bloomfield Saturday Market, and also hosts events. It also runs an initiative that provides meals to residents in need.

“We’re not a normal restaurant at all,” Saffron added. Saffron. “So this grant will help us look into making a better product for wholesale. We’re excited about it.”

Saffron hopes to use the grant funds to increase the wholesale element, establish the cafe’s downstairs kitchen, and expand the operation. She hopes to improve the area and create a comfortable space for the community.

For more than 25 years in the art field, Saffron changed her focus to the food industry. She launched her family-owned kitchen by registering in New Sun Rising’s program dedicated to helping businesses related to food start their journey.

“I come to food through my heritage,” said Saffron. “We’re a heritage kitchen, so all of the cooks in our kitchen, we make things according to our backgrounds, preferences, and histories.”

Sprezzatura started catering service in 2016, and the cafe opened in 2019. The restaurant is home to jazz and wine dinners and will kick off the new calendar of events in September.

“It was very accessible.”

Every winner was able to discuss the accessibility Comcast provided its grant applications. Instead of having to wade through the jargon of finance which is often found in similar applications, the language used in each application was evident, as was the form, which was much shorter than the majority. The applicants found out approximately one month after the deadline when they were awarded the grant.

“It was a lot shorter of an application than I was used to,” Rivera added. Rivera. “I believe small-business owners will appreciate that, as some of these other grants I’ve submitted have been a bit. The one I submitted was more straightforward, which is fantastic since I’m not a grantee. I’m a tattoo artist. It’s accessible to those who may not be accustomed to the financial language.”

Several small-business support organizations notified business owners of the grant opportunity to make the grant more visible and draw attention to the commission. The Neighborhood Allies contacted local shops in the city to hold workshops for entrepreneurs to get more information about applying. Saffron and Rivera were the hosts of two sessions in their respective shops.

“We provided hospitality to owners interested in the grant,” said Saffron. “At the session’s close, I was approached by a person and asked, ‘Don’t forget to think of yourself, Jen. And I thought to myself, wow, I really should apply. Everyone keeps telling me that. So I did.”

Applications are being accepted for grants for marketing and technology until October. For more information on donations provided by Comcast as well as the Comcast RISE Investment Fund

By Mia

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