For many communities grappling with the impacts of COVID-19 and social unrest, laying the foundations for a responsive economic recovery informs long-term solutions. 

By identifying and leveraging key ecosystem assets in Jeannette, PA, the community is empowered to strengthen its equitable entrepreneurial and workforce ecosystem.

Renowned for its innovation in glass manufacturing, Jeannette’s economy once centered on the success of seven major factories that arose during the early 1900s. Today the community is home to many local artists and musicians, antique galleries and loft apartments from converted downtown businesses, and two of the original factories.

Based on the success of the CO.STARTERS small business support program, the Auberle skills training implemented in New Kensington, and coordination with local consultant Kim Louis, the interventions agreed upon by the Jeannette Council will be guided by Forward Cities. 

At Forward Cities we are committed to helping communities like Jeannette develop entrepreneur- and worker-centric strategies for strengthening a community’s entrepreneurial and workforce development ecosystems as part of an equitable economic recovery strategy. We recognize that during these devastating economic times, which have put innumerable businesses and workers in dire straits, long-term recovery strategy needs to be firmly anchored in short-term relief to entrepreneurs and those on the sidelines of this economy.

Kim Louis headshotKIM LOUIS

PROJECT MANAGER, Inclusive Innovation

Kim Louis is an entrepreneur and nonprofit director in New Kensington, PA with 27 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector and with at-risk youth. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Trinity School for Ministry. She has worked as a Behavioral Specialist in autism for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and a Youth Ministry Consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. She is the Founding Director of Sonward Youth Programs in New Kensington, PA, working with kids in the neighborhoods with the highest poverty rates in the county. She created a tiered mentorship program where kids can move from participants to interns to staff. Currently, the daily operations of the program are partially run by staff who started out as program participants. Kim has been married to her husband, Dave, since 2004 and together they are raising their four adopted children who are all high school aged. She completed a two year engagement in ecosystem building in New Kensington in 2020. She continues to work with Forward Cities supporting equitable redevelopment in other rust belt communities in Pennsylvania.

Our work in Jeanette is graciously supported by the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.

For more information about the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Westmoreland County, including Jeannette, contact Hassan Bazzi, Forward Cities Director of Community Innovation.