LISC 2017 Annual Report | The Difference We Make | Pittsburgh, PALeave a Comment
Every day we listen carefully to the ways residents in Pittsburgh want to transform their lives and revitalize their communities. Then we go out and #MakeADifference. See the difference Neighborhood Allies/LISC are making in Pittsburgh in the new LISC 2017 Annual Report!
New Sun Rising is a Pittsburgh social enterprise nonprofit dedicated to sparking creativity and entrepreneurship in under-resourced communities. Neighborhood Allies, LISC’s affiliate in Pittsburgh, has been working with New Sun Rising (NSR) since 2015, when the organization began partnering with residents in Millvale, a tiny former industrial town on the Allegheny River, to promote healthy food access and incubate local food businesses.
A few years ago, NSR’s founding director, Scott Wolovich, began eyeing the old Moose Lodge in downtown Millvale, an enormous, low-slung brick building with equally enormous potential. The wheels began to turn, and soon NSR was co-designing a new headquarters and “sustainability resource hub” that will provide a cooperative ownership structure for five food businesses and serve as a place for the community to buy fresh food from local merchants.
It will also be the backbone of what NSR and residents are calling the Millvale EcoDistrict Food System, a creative and energetic approach to improving healthy food access and economic development in a community with a 21 percent poverty rate and few job opportunities.
But acquiring and developing the 10,000 square foot space was a massive and complex undertaking, and NSR needed a partner and guide. Neighborhood Allies and LISC provided nearly $400,000 in grants and loans, helping NSR purchase the Moose Lodge and begin renovation.
Just as important, Neighborhood Allies assisted NSR in navigating the development process through its Shared Real Estate Talent Program, which supports community organizations to carry out a real estate project from start to finish. The program offers consulting to guide land assembly and acquisition, financial and environmental analysis, design and feasibility. And it forges an enduring system of mutual support among the organizations.
NSR is striving to make the Moose Lodge into a replicable social and economic model for other communities that lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. And by providing space for growing culinary enterprises, NSR hopes those businesses can remain in the community and generate jobs for Millvale.
Wolovich, incidentally, is no stranger to ambitious undertakings, but he credits Neighborhood Allies and LISC with making the Moose Lodge project feasible. “Working with them on this project went far beyond the funding,” he said. “We were able to tap into knowledge which helped us to develop an innovative business model, connect with real estate professionals, and ultimately, overcome the challenges associated with such a complex project.”