The Hill District will be home to a new small business incubator based in the historic Miller Elementary School.

Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED), a Larimer faith-based organization, and Trek Development are behind the $10 million renovation of the landmark building on Miller Street, one of the first schools in the city (1906) to educate black children.

CEED has been instrumental in assisting and developing micro-enterprises in Southwestern Pennsylvania for the past 10 years. Many of these businesses are started by underserved and disadvantaged entrepreneurs, including immigrants and refugees, struggling to become economically self-sufficient, says Rufus Idris, executive director of CEED.

They bring new business ideas to the region and are determined to succeed, he adds, but are often unable to pay the rent or gain a competitive edge.

The Miller International Enterprise Center will expand on these services to incubate and grow entrepreneurial endeavors in the Hill.

Downtown-based Trek Development Group donated the building to the nonprofit and will renovate the space into 26 apartments and townhouses and office space.

Trek purchased the school in 2011 from the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The developer received $1.5 million from the Urban Redevelopment Authority and $7.6 million in private equity tax credits from PNC bank for the most recent phase of the development, 30% of which went toward the Miller School project.

“We are very pleased to be able to support CEED in their mission to nurture startup businesses through the donation of the building,” says William Gatti, Jr., president of Trek. “Finding a use for this historic structure that supports the physical and civic revitalization of the neighborhood is a win for all and we are glad to be part of it.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools closed Miller in 2005-2006 as a cost-cutting measure. In its final years, the school focused on African culture.

“We are really excited to continue and expand our working relationship with CEED,” adds Bill Generett, president and CEO of UrbanInnovation21. “CEED’s incubator will be a nice compliment to our direct service offering–the Energy Innovation Center and the other organizations providing technical assistance to companies in the Hill District.”

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared...