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An e-newsletter published for friends of Mon Valley Initiative | June 2022
Allegheny County

Mon Valley businesses may be eligible
for $10K Comcast grant

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.

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, 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 is partnering with Comcast to help business owners prepare their applications. To find out about help available through MVI, contact Grant R. Cole, community outreach specialist, at 412-464-4000, ext. 4024, or email gcole@monvalleyinitiative.com.
“A lot of neighborhood service businesses are expected to be eligible,” said Laura R. Zinski, MVI chief executive officer. “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.”
  • Applications will be accepted from June 1 to 14, 2022, and winners announced a few weeks later. For more information, visit www.ComcastRISE.com
Upcoming events include:
  • 12 noon to 1 p.m. June 7: Drop-in information session at Clairton Public Library, 616 Miller Ave.
  • 4 to 8 p.m. June 8: Drop-in information session at Mon Valley Initiative, 305 E. 8th Ave., Homestead
  • 6 to 8 p.m. June 10: Coffee and conversation with Mon Metro Chamber of Commerce at Braddock’s Battlefield History Center, 609 Sixth St., North Braddock. Co-hosted with Greater Valley Community Services

Watch: Could your business use a boost?

In case you missed it: Tracy Montarti of the Women’s Business Network joined MVI communications manager Jason Togyer and Comcast Director of Community Impact Beth Crow on May 31 to discuss the Comcast RISE program. The discussion was streamed live on Facebook and may be viewed on WBN’s Facebook page. Jason also joined Maury Burgwin of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the program during a “Zoom at Noon” event on May 26. More than 20 people participated in that webinar.
Regional

Free 13-week entrepreneurship class begins June 3

Image: “Hand-Drawing Business Vectors” by OriginalMe2, courtesy www.vecteezy.com
Do you ever think of starting your own business? Well — maybe you should.

On June 3, Mon Valley Initiative is launching a free, 13-week online workshop for people interested in entrepreneurship — including in fields such as auto repair, contracting, HVAC maintenance, hair and beauty care, restaurants and catering.

Maybe you’re already in one of these fields. What do you need to know about taxes, financing, hiring and firing, obtaining licenses, and more?

And if you already have a business, think of this as a free refresher course. Sessions meet once a week, online.

Support for the event is being provided in part by Citizens Bank. Jason Jones, the bank’s community development market manager, is helping to lead the weekly sessions.
  • For more information or to register, contact T. Charles Howell IV, Director of Workforce Development & Financial Coaching, at chowell@monvalleyinitiative.com or 412-464-4000 ext. 4027.
Clairton

New apartments attracting strong interest

Women for a Healthy Environment and other local organizations joined MVI on May 5 to host a tour of a model unit at Clairton Inn Apartments. Applications for the 49 units are now being accepted.

Applications for 49 units at the new Clairton Inn Apartments are now being accepted and there has been strong interest from prospective tenants.

An open house was held May 5 to allow the public to view a model unit, and another open house is planned for Thursday (June 2).

Located at the corner of Miller and St. Clair avenues, the $16.7 million development includes 22 one-bedroom units,12 two-bedroom units and 15 three-bedroom units.

All 49 units in the project will be affordable to households at 50 percent of area median income, with several units affordable to households at as low as 20 percent of area median income.

Occupancy is expected to begin later this summer. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being tentatively scheduled for late July, to coincide with the City of Clairton’s 100th anniversary celebration.
Workforce Development & Financial Coaching

Success Story: “Ron”

“Ron” has been enrolled in Mon Valley Initiative’s Workforce Development & Financial Coaching Program since April 21, 2022. He has been trying to find a job that suits his set of skills.

A self-taught computer programmer, Ron wants a job within the computer gaming industry. He attended MVI’s Job Clubs on a regular basis and began participating in the workforce program’s pre-employment certificate class.

Ron’s MVI employment coach advised him to visit some retailers and ask about any entry-level positions that might be available. He took his job coach’s advice and went to several gaming stores in the Pittsburgh area. After visiting a store in the Monroeville area, Ron gained some interest from a manager.
The manager was very impressed with Ron’s resume and encouraged him to complete an application. The manager then offered him a full-time position as an assistant manager.

Ron accepted the position and started his first day of employment with the company on May 16. He’s currently making $10.50 an hour and will be eligible for a raise and full benefits after his 90-day probationary period. Ron also has the opportunity to advance rapidly within the company due to his advanced skill-set as a programmer and his knowledge of the video game industry.

Ron expressed his excitement about landing the job and thanked his job coach for his suggestion to pursue employment with a gaming company. He is looking forward to a rewarding career in the gaming industry and told MVI he couldn’t be happier.
  • Do you know someone who could benefit from our employment and financial coaching process? Call us at 412-464-4000, ext. 4000, or 724-565-8040, ext. 1; email dmattie@monvalleyinitiative.com; text “workforce” and your name to 412-545-3181; or visit our website.
COVID-19 response

MVI helps residents access mortgage, utility relief

This map of Allegheny County shows applications for foreclosure relief that have been submitted from the Mon Valley and South Hills.

More than $8.2 million in relief has been disbursed so far to Pennsylvania homeowners who fell behind on mortgage payments or other expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including $600,000 in Allegheny County.

The program has had nearly 10,000 applicants, a spokesperson said.

The Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund, or PAHAF, was created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The fund has up to $350 million in federal funding available to help homeowners who are facing foreclosure or other financial hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MVI has partnered with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Pittsburgh’s ACTION-Housing and other housing counseling providers throughout the commonwealth to provide information and assistance to people who want to apply.

The program is designed to prevent or ease mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, displacements and utility disconnections, and is available to households who are at or below 150 percent of the area median income. Eligible applicants can receive up to $30,000.

  • To apply to PAHAF directly, call 1-888-987-2423 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, or visit www.pahaf.org. If you need help applying for assistance, call 412-464-4000, ext. 4008, or email jweaver@monvalleyinitiative.com.

On the air: MVI talks housing counseling

The Pittsburgh area is often called one of the most “affordable” housing markets in the United States. What programs are available to first-time homebuyers to make sure it stays affordable? MVI housing counselor Jonathan Weaver and HUD intermediary manager Dana Hodge were guests recently on “Two Rivers, 30 Minutes,” a local podcast that also airs on WEDO (810 AM) radio in McKeesport and WZUM (1550 AM/101.1 FM) radio in Braddock.

Dana and Jonathan talked about why it’s important for new homebuyers to prepare themselves before they go shopping, especially with interest rates and home prices both rising. They also discussed the PAHAF program that helps to prevent foreclosures for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can hear the half-hour program online.

MVI seeks proposals for professional services

Mon Valley Initiative is seeking proposals for professional services for a three-year engagement period in Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Washington counties to assist our housing “rehabilitation for resale” program and other development programs.

Services required include: Appraisal, Architectural, Civil Engineering, Geotechnical, Lead Based Paint and Clearance Testing, Market Analysis, Phase I and II Environmental Assessment, Realtor, Settlement, Structural Engineering, and Surveying.

Bid materials are available at www.pennbid.net and proposals must be submitted electronically by 5 p.m. June 17, 2022. All proposals will be evaluated on the basis of relevant professional experience and competency as well as the value delivered to Mon Valley Initiative through the cost of services performed and achievement of county, federal, and organizational goals for the utilization of registered M/W/DBE or VOSB firms. Qualifications of those submitting proposals may be verified.

MVI reserves the right to reject any and/or all proposals submitted.
Copyright © 2022 Mon Valley Initiative, All rights reserved.


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