Community Development Financial Institution salutes clients’ successes
November 1, 2016 | Diane I. Daniels | New Pittsburgh Courier
Businesses like Bridging the Gap Development, Dauntless Boutique, E Properties and Development, Glenn’s Cookies and KMJ Metalworks indicate a healthy community and bring hope to the region reflecting a much better future than what has been portrayed lately by political candidates are the sentiments of the leadership of the region’s Bridgeway Capital.
During the 26th anniversary celebration of Bridgeway Capital Mark Peterson, president and CEO, said the entrepreneurs and leaders saluted represent hope that they can better their lives and the future of their families and the community around them.
“Their resilience and initiative are our best answers and we are honored to tell their stories that represent hope to Western Pennsylvania. Their stories displaying character, opportunity and perseverance have inspired us to invest and we are very grateful for the quality of our clients, their vision and hard work,” said Peterson.
Calculated as a very good year, Peterson reported that in 2016 they invested eighteen million dollars in 63 small businesses inclusive of startups, 23 nonprofit organizations and in 26 community development projects. With only a one percent loan loss for the year he views their investment as energizing the local economy and serving citizens.
Established in 1990 as a housing and social service lender under the name of the Community Loan Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the name was changed in 2008 to Bridgeway Capital. Its mission is to make western Pennsylvania a thriving region for all by promoting economic opportunity and community revitalization. Bridgeway assists underserved populations by providing capital and education to ignite business and job growth, develop communities, support entrepreneurs and expand vital services that strengthen the region.
Over the last 26 years the group reports that they have made 1,093 loans totaling over seven million dollars. African American enterprises have received 305 loans and women owned establishments totaled 409 loans.
Bridging the Gap Development, a diversified real estate wealth management firm owned by Derrick Tillman received financial assistance from Bridgeway to redevelop an abandoned elementary school in the Hill District into residential units. The goal of revitalizing Miller School is to create much needed construction jobs, and provides new residential options in an area seeking to attract increased economic activity. Tillman is also developing a 36-unit area median income property across the street from Miller School. His plan is to demolish the current structure and build quality housing and a beautiful in and out apartment building.
Joy Benton, the proprietor of Dauntless Boutique a Penn Hills women’s retail establishment received an Entrepreneur Loan from Bridgeway. Money from the working capital loan was used to purchase equipment and inventory. Benton’s goal is to provide products and services to communities in Pittsburgh that she views as underserved by the current retail environment.
Bridgeway’s first individual Impact awardee, Emeka Onwugbenu, CEO of E Properties and Development received financing assistance from Bridgeway to transform an abandoned school in the Larimer community into the new home for the Urban Academy Charter School. The reconstruction and development provides for growth, and offers a high-quality education to 250 children. Onwugbenu received the Impact award for his exemplary community impact in 2016. The approximate budget for the 38,000 square-foot building was $3 million and provides jobs for a staff of 50.
Known for his assortment of homemade cookies, Glenn Williams the owner of Glenn’s Cookies received an Urban Entrepreneur Loan from Bridgeway to grow his baking business by pursuing additional retail opportunities around Pittsburgh. Since starting as a homebased business in 1996, Glenn’s Cookies has developed a high demand for his baked goods.
With the passion to make his business successful and as he says “putting everything he has into the business,” Ramone Patterson, the owner of KMJ Metalworks received an Urban Entrepreneur Loan from Bridgeway. Primarily working out of TechShop, a maker space in East Liberty, KMJ Metalworks is classified as a one of a kind trailer hitch covers, decorative license plates and metal artwork business. As the demand for his metal products and welding services increased, Patterson required working capital in which he utilized to partner with local manufacturers to increase his production capabilities, to rent the TechShop studio time and to purchase supplies.
Also, a lender to non-profit organizations, between 2013 to present Bridgeway has invested $715,111 in the Homewood and Larimer communities. Recipients include Diakonia Ministries, Inc., the Homewood Children’s Village, Operation Better Block, Shiloh Community Missionary Baptist Church, the Art House and the Bible Center Church, Inc.
Living up to its slogan, “connect opportunity with capital,” with the support of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Bridgeway purchased 7800 Susquehanna St., the former Westinghouse Electric facility built in the 1920s and noted as the tallest building in Homewood in 2013. Representing a significant investment in a chronically underinvested area of the city, the goal of the project is to repurpose an underutilized commercial asset into a platform for economic renewal within the community. The aim also is to create a stable economic core in Homewood to attract additional investment and encourage commercial activity. The building will house artists, creative manufacturers and job training programs.
Bridgeway and Ma’at Construction Group assembled a contract team with 85 per cent minority contractor participation to conduct interior renovations. Ma’at Construction Group, a non-profit affiliate of the Homewood based Community Empowerment Association was the general contractor for the interior modifications of the third and fourth floors of the five story 150,000 square foot building.
More than 400 of Bridgeway’s supporters attended the annual event, what they classified as more than a celebration. “It’s a time for our clients, partners, and investors to network and initiate collaborations which produce exciting new opportunities for future impact.” Peterson said it was exciting to hold this year’s event at the August Wilson Center, the region’s leading venue for the celebration of African-American culture. “It was a model setting for us to share our clients’ stories of opportunity and renewal.”
Read the full article on the New Pittsburgh Courier website.