Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence Receives Grant to Help Small Businesses in Coal-impacted Communities

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A $1.035 million Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant will assist individuals displaced by the declining market for Appalachian coal by providing job-search and business startup assistance through Western Pennsylvania Small Business Services for Coal-Impacted Communities (SBS) programs.

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE), part of the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, has received $285,000 for its part in the program and will match the ARC grant for a total of $664,950. The IEE will offer three programs through its Small Business Development Center:

  • Launch My Business” for startups and those thinking of starting a business due to displacement.
  • Planning for Profits” where business owners use the Business Model Canvas tool to analyze direct feedback from existing and potential clients for sales growth and revenue.
  • Decision Makers” in which business owners resolve issues in a confidential group setting. 

It also will draw upon the expertise of PantherlabWorks, a resource for innovative companies seeking to bring new technologies, services and products into the marketplace.

“We have a long history of working with manufacturers, small businesses and individuals in communities affected by shifts in the economy,” said IEE executive director Robert Stein. “This partnership is an important outreach to communities where job losses have accelerated with the closing of coal mines.”

The SBS is a joint initiative of Pitt’s IEE, Innovation Works/Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania. Working together, these organizations provide coworking spaces, accelerators and incubators to serve business owners, independent contractors and entrepreneurs in communities where there are limited resources.