If you are a new small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur, you should consider becoming a member of the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone. The Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ) is a program run by Urban Innovation21, which is a public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurship and technological innovation to benefit the communities and society of Pittsburgh.
The PCKIZ is a group of higher education institutions, businesses, and government agencies and community organizations that seeks to increase technology and economic development activities and create economic sustainability in underserved areas of Pittsburgh.
Members of the PCKIZ must be located and registered within the target zone, which is made up of the Hill District, Uptown, and Downtown communities. If you’re unsure where to start, be sure to check out this map of available office space within the targeted area.
The PCKIZ uses inclusive innovation to assist businesses in the target zone. Inclusive innovation is a strategy that builds a more inclusive economy and ultimately benefits all of society. In addition, the PCKIZ offers beneficial incentives to local businesses to gain their participation. These incentives include tax credits, paid interns, grant funding, and networking opportunities.
PCKIZ members may receive tax credits that can significantly assist you in navigating the initial growth period of owning a business. Visit the Keystone Innovation Zone for specific requirements on tax credit eligibility and how credits are determined.
Undergraduate and graduate students at local universities have the opportunity to intern with participating PCKIZ businesses. Urban Innovation21 reaches out to students at Duquesne, Carlow, Point Park, and the Community College of Allegheny County to generate interest in your business. The internship coordinator collects paperwork from student applicants, handles human resource documents, and forwards student resumes to the PCKIZ company. Then you decide who to interview and, ultimately, to whom to offer the internship. As a PCKIZ member, your interns are paid through Urban Innovation21.
The PCKIZ offers grant funding to applicants whose businesses are located and registered within the target zone. Each applicant can request up to $25,000 in grant funding for their business. Applicants must document how grant funding from the PCKIZ will create more jobs in the target zone, increase the capability to compete in their respective field, establish the applicant’s capacity to commercialize new technology, or a combination of two or more of these areas. More information on grant funding may be found on the Community Based Entrepreneurship page.
Urban Innovation21 hosts networking events for the PCKIZ to afford members the opportunity to meet the partners, funders, and board members of Urban Innovation21. PCKIZ companies are able to discuss the work they are doing and get feedback and advice, which is very helpful as many PCKIZ businesses are just beginning.
Networking events include speed dating between a PCKIZ company and partners of Urban Innovation21 and a summer barbeque. Additionally, each year the PCKIZ grant winners and applicants are invited to a celebration event where they can meet one another and the partners and staff of Urban Innovation21.
Become a Member.
To become a member of the PCKIZ, please fill out the online enrollment questionnaire. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet other professionals and get some outside assistance for your business.