Advancing Inclusive Innovation in Pittsburgh and Westmoreland County:
North Carolina-based Forward Cities, which recently merged with CEOs for Cities, is a five-year-old, learning network comprising 33 cities committed to advancing inclusive innovation and economic development. With a $230,000 Foundation grant, Forward Cities will launch a community innovation accelerator in Pittsburgh and New Kensington in Westmoreland County to spur economic growth, revitalize neighborhoods, and create businesses and jobs, as well as lessen the risk that these communities will be left behind in today’s ever-changing, knowledge-based economy.
Within a year, Forward Cities will hire a full-time project manager to map the status of inclusive innovation programs in Pittsburgh, including organizations already offering or developing such programs. The incumbent also will identify state and federal funding opportunities and successful benchmarking projects in other Forward Cities member cities; convene stakeholders to identify several “beachhead” initiatives to be implemented within 18 months; seek support for those projects; and scale the successful ones.
Through Forward Cities’ community-led process to help identify and remove barriers to entrepreneurship and small business growth in Pittsburgh and New Kensington, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has been an invaluable partner every step of the way.”
In 2018, a group of Pittsburgh’s stakeholders, business leaders, and government officials attended the Forward Cities National Convening, connecting to leaders from inclusive innovation cities engaged in similar efforts. Over time, the project will connect entrepreneurs to revenue enhancing resources, increase procurement of services from minority owned enterprises, link the unemployed with employment opportunities, support development in under-developed commercial corridors, and identify or create investment vehicles for local businesses.