Lessons Learned and Optimism Remains in Pittsburgh
Our team of small business experts and consultants set up shop in Pittsburgh with its initial pilot in Fall of 2019. Today, we’re passing the torch to a local accelerator of our own design to carry on the work with the resources and ecosystem we’ve established in Pittsburgh. Here’s everything you need to know.
Forward Cities Enters Pittsburgh
To prepare for our pilot, Brett Brenton started work in Pittsburgh for Forward Cities in the Summer of 2019 by establishing a job description and role for the Navigator Program. Pittsburgh was the first test market.
“We have seen the Navigator work grow into multiple other cities, we've learned a great deal about the best use of a platform to connect ecosystems, and we've learned how to properly lift up a cross sector council and empower them to take direction for the good of a community,” says Brett Brenton, senior director of learning networks at Forward Cities.
In addition, Brett remembers learning about Pittsburgh’s unique advantage of being chock full of ESOs and a deep desire to invest locally. Another important learning from the Pittsburgh market Brett mentions is how to appreciate and nurture an engagement with the investing community, including large organizations like The Hillman Foundation and the RK Mellon Foundation, where they didn’t simply write a check but authentically engaged and worked with the team to spark entrepreneurship in the region.
Riverside Center for Innovation and The E3 Alliance of Pittsburgh
So, how is Forward Cities connected to Pittsburgh going forward? The same team that built the Forward Cities Pittsburgh team created the E3 Alliance of Pittsburgh, trained and equipped the team with resources, and will be available to the E3 Alliance and RCI as needed for overarching strategies and building on the work done over the last year.
RCI will carry out the daily work Forward Cities has done to this point in Pittsburgh, allowing Forward Cities to expand into other cities and develop new programs and resources to benefit all cities in the ecosystem. We’re not the ones you’ll talk to everyday, but we hired and trained them and we gave them the rule book.
“The future of the Pittsburgh entrepreneurial ecosystem is directly related to the E3 Alliance,” says Hassan Bazzi, Director of Community Innovation. “The Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Alliance (E3 Alliance) of Greater Pittsburgh, is a new organization that serves as the coordinating body for Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, working to foster a culture of equity for every entrepreneur. The organization will lead and synchronize a diverse group of stakeholders in the development and implementation of strategies aligned with shared outcomes to ensure the long term sustainability of this work in the Pittsburgh ecosystem.”