Bringing Rural Expertise to Pittsburgh’s Urban Core:
The Progress Fund
The Progress Fund (TPF) lends capital and provides technical assistance to small businesses in 40 Pennsylvania counties, the state of West Virginia, and Maryland’s mountain counties. This capital creates economic opportunities for new and existing entrepreneurs, as well as jobs with above average wages. It also expands the regional economy, especially through support of tourism. TPF’s experience demonstrates that when businesses are physically clustered or offer similar goods and services, those locations became regional attractions. To maximize the economic impact of the Great Allegheny Passage, in 2007 TPF launched the Trail Town Program, which has been recognized nationally as an innovative model and has since been replicated in other trail corridors and towns.
The clustering strategy used to activate the trail towns can produce similar results in struggling urban communities. A two-year Foundation grant of $700,000 will allow TPF to hire a program officer and lender to explore possibilities in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood and North Side neighborhoods. Funding also will enable TPF to continue to grow even as new loan business decreases because of overall economic conditions in many rural counties.