Pittsburgh has experienced a tech boom in the last decade, invigorating – or inventing – the robotics, green technology, speech-recognition software, and specialty polymer development industries.
A symbiotic relationship between local universities, businesses, and government makes Pittsburgh ripe for growth and innovation. And the presence of big name corporations like Apple and Google shows faith that Pittsburgh is and will remain a center for technological innovation.
The city is undergirded by a close knit, supportive network that thrives at each stage of the startup growth cycle. Younger companies gain insight and lessons from advisors or like-minded communities (which gather regularly throughout the city); more mature companies give back to the cycle by providing mentoring, advocacy, and leadership.
The relatively small size of the city makes it possible to navigate the business community and find advisors and partners who can help you with a specific problem. You can participate in a variety of organizations and integrate yourself into established projects – or even build a team to launch your own.
Also, a simple sense of pride among Pittsburgh residents contributes to a friendly atmosphere and a bond that draws communities together. Projects that will benefit the city in some way will likely yield assistance from people in a variety of professions who want the city to continue to improve. There are incredible challenges with starting a new business; launching into a supportive environment provides one less obstacle.
Whether by design or serendipity, community leaders have banded together to make Pittsburgh a supportive place for small business startups. Through Main Street funding initiatives, small business accelerators, or Kiva Zip loans, these community leaders – and their state-level partners – have worked to ensure businesses have what they need to begin, grow, and stay successful in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania.
A few of the resources available to small businesses in Pittsburgh include SCORE Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone, the Pittsburgh Technology Council, and Small Business Development Centers at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. Each of these organizations work with entrepreneurs to get small businesses established and running smoothly.
The Ben Franklin Technology Partners regional office in Pittsburgh has been helping businesses for 30 years. Ben Franklin Technology Partners provide funding for small and large scale businesses. In addition to financial assistance, they provide business and technical advice and give entrepreneurs access to some great resources.
People might think finding space to house a business would be difficult in such a bustling place, but they would be mistaken. The emergence of repurposed warehouse and factory setups for use as small business coworking space results in easy and affordable spaces for entrepreneurs to work and brainstorm. Since most startups have a small number of employees, or only one employee, and don’t need a large space to begin with, it is practical to take advantage of a shared work environment.
The universities, especially Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, with their focus on research and innovation, have had a huge impact on Pittsburgh’s culture of technology and innovation. But Pittsburgh can develop a small business in any industry into a successful part of the community. The region is flush with bright minds and capable talent, and brighter ideas that have the potential to make Pittsburgh an even greater city where small businesses, technology, and innovative ideas will flourish.