University of Pittsburgh
September 19, 2011

New Pitt Program Designed to Spur Inner-City Business

Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence certificate program to help area business owners manage growth, success
Contact:  412-624-4147


PITTSBURGH—As businesses around the Pittsburgh area navigate an uncertain economy, Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE) is offering a new certificate program, Urban Power to Prosper, designed to help owners grow their businesses.

“Our mission is to work with entrepreneurs to grow and sustain their businesses and communities,” said Chris Kush, associate director of IEE. “As businesses increase their revenues and profits, they add jobs—more than likely hiring people from their own neighborhood. It’s a win-win for everyone. Businesses are prospering and helping individuals generate wealth that can be transferred to the next generation.”

Urban Power to Prosper is a certificate program to bolster small business owners in their efforts to plan, achieve, and manage long-term growth and success. Its courses address such topics as access to capital and to new markets, financial management, strategic planning, sales strategies, and management of human resources.

With seed funding from the Heinz Endowments and other foundations, the IEE worked with Interise, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that offers StreetWise Steps™, a program developed for business owners in inner-city neighborhoods looking to grow their existing businesses.

Kush said IEE has taken the nine-month StreetWise Steps curriculum and tailored it to relate specifically to this region’s businesses.

“Through our work with entrepreneurs throughout the region, we have heard and are responding to the needs of existing businesses that are beyond the start-up stage but not quite in a sustainable growth position,” Kush said. 

The program focuses on working on businesses in the long term and creating plans for growth as opposed to working on the day-to-day operations of businesses.

To enroll, a business must be established for a minimum of three years in an inner-city neighborhood in Pittsburgh, have full-time employees, and generate at least $300,000 in revenue. 

Class size is limited, and courses will begin in October. Applications for the inaugural class are now being accepted; the deadline is Oct. 3.

For more information about Urban Power to Prosper, visit or contact Kush at or 412-648-1806.

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence in the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business offers small businesses a dynamic mix of consulting, education, and networking resources.  It strives to be an innovative leader in connecting people, organizations, and resources in Western Pennsylvania.




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