Above: Community leaders, including Laura R. Zinski, MVI chief executive officer, joined Comcast senior vice president Toni Murphy (third from right) and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (right) at the May 12 announcement.
PITTSBURGH, MAY 12, 2022 — Mon Valley business owners may be eligible for up to $10,000 in grant money for direct assistance, or to boost their marketing or technology needs.
Comcast, the region’s dominant Internet and television provider, on Thursday announced that it will award $1 million in $10,000 grants to 100 small businesses in Allegheny County owned by women and people of color, including Black entrepreneurs, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans.
The money is being provided from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund.
Mon Valley Initiative, a regional community development corporation with offices in Homestead and Charleroi, is partnering with Comcast to help business owners prepare their applications.
Applications for grants will be accepted from June 1 to 14. Minority and women-owned businesses in Allegheny County with one to 25 employees may apply for one of the $10,000 grants.
Comcast RISE is also offering $10,000 in marketing and technology assistance to women and minority-owned businesses throughout Comcast’s service area. Those applications are already being accepted and the process will close on June 17.
The announcement was made during a press conference on Pittsburgh’s North Side by Toni Murphy, senior vice president of Comcast’s Keystone Region.
RISE is an acronym standing for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment.” The program was created in November 2020 and since then has supported 8,000 businesses in 34 states with more than $50 million in technology and marketing resources.
“When we launched Comcast RISE, we knew a profound need existed in many of the communities we serve,” Murphy said. “We now have seen firsthand how the program’s marketing and technology resources benefit the business owners who are working hard to rise above 2020. Today’s announcement takes Comcast’s commitment to the Pittsburgh community to yet another level.”
State Reps. Aerion Abney and Martell Covington joined Murphy at the press conference, along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh City Council Member Rev. Ricky Burgess.
Minority and women-owned businesses in Allegheny County may apply for a $10,000 grant from Comcast RISE. Businesses may have up to 25 employees and should have been in operation for at least three years.
Minority and women-owned businesses from throughout Comcast’s service area may apply for assistance from Comcast RISE either for a marketing campaign — including TV and digital media campaigns, created by Comcast’s Effectv division — or for technology and Internet upgrades, including computer and networking equipment as well as Internet, voice and cybersecurity services for 12 months.
In 2021, nearly two dozen small businesses in the Pittsburgh area — including salons, auto-repair shops, day-care facilities, restaurants and fitness centers — received Comcast RISE grants.
In addition to Mon Valley Initiative, Neighborhood Allies and the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence also will be providing application assistance and information about the program in Allegheny County.
“A lot of neighborhood service businesses are expected to be eligible,” said Laura R. Zinski, chief executive officer of Mon Valley Initiative. “It’s a great opportunity, and MVI and the other agencies will be right in these neighborhoods and able to help. We’re hoping that we can get people teed up to apply, because the window to submit your application is very short.”
Mon Valley municipalities such as Clairton, Duquesne, Glassport, Homestead, McKeesport, Munhall, Swissvale, Turtle Creek and Wilmerding were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Zinski said.
“These are places that don’t already have access to a lot of capital investment,” she said. “In some cases, business owners have been struggling to keep their households together as well as their businesses. I think Comcast is very, very serious about engaging with the community, and we’re excited to try to help.”
In the coming weeks, Zinski said, MVI will be partnering with other local groups, including community development corporations and chambers of commerce, to offer in-person and online information about the Comcast RISE grants. MVI also will provide assistance if businesses need help submitting their applications in June.
To register for a future event, or find out about help available through MVI, contact Grant R. Cole, community outreach specialist, at 412-464-4000, ext. 4024, or email email@example.com.
The Pittsburgh region is one of five metropolitan areas served by Comcast that are receiving targeted attention this year from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund. The others are Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Philadelphia, a Comcast spokesman said.
For more information about Comcast RISE, visit www.ComcastRISE.com.
Founded in 1988, Mon Valley Initiative is a regional non-profit corporation that provides pre-purchase housing counseling, real estate development and workforce development services in Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties. For more information, visit www.monvalleyinitiative.com.