$65,000 Good All Over Wilkinsburg
PROJECT: Good All Over Wilkinsburg
PROGRAM: Spring 2015 Catalytic Grants
GRANTEE: Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC)
The Borough of Wilkinsburg was once a prosperous community with a thriving business district. In 1950, Wilkinsburg reached its peak population of 31,500 residents. Today, that number has dwindled to less than 16,000. More than 23% of these residents live below the poverty level, which is 10% more than the Pennsylvania state average. As the population has fallen, Wilkinsburg’s vacancy rate has increased more dramatically than most municipalities. More than 29% of the buildings in the business district are vacant. Many are severely dilapidated, posing a health and safety risk. Despite the high commercial availability on Penn Avenue, there is a lack of code-compliant space available for move-in. This lack of space limits the opportunity for new commercial businesses in Wilkinsburg, and deprives residents of access to a broader range of goods and services. This project has four components:
- Completing and implementing a Market Analysis: The analysis will be conducted and completed to gather data for marketing materials including the Business Resource Tool-Kit (#4), show the leakage in specific markets and highlight opportunities for growth and study economic trends and conditions, which will inform the vision and action plans.
- Growing the Business Improvement Image Fund: Currently, the Business Image Improvement Fund can only help a maximum of three business owners. By growing the fund, which includes a small match component, more business owners will be encouraged to invest in marketing. The goal is to benefit at least six additional businesses with an average project cost of $1,600 per business.
- Developing Marketing and Branding Videos: Videos are designed to: 1) position and introduce viewers to an up and coming community, 2) provide a positive alternative to the negative perception of the business district and overall community and 3) highlight community assets, including local businesses, to bring potential customers, shoppers, and visitors to Wilkinsburg.
- Creating a Business Resource Tool-kit: With funding, this will evolve from concept creation to an actual project that can be used in marketing local businesses and will include tools to guide current businesses toward all of the resources available, to welcome and orient new businesses to the community, and to attract businesses to locate in the community.