The banners were unveiled at the Bite of Bryant Street event, which included an appearance by the Mayor for the groundbreaking for Phase II of CDC’s development: a three–story building with retail/commercial space on the ground floor and townhouse apartments above (slated for completion by December 2014). Restaurants along the street offered small bites to passersby. “We were able to generate a lot of activity and interest, and there was a nice synergy among all of these events,” Hance says. “That Biz Buzz grant allowed us to get a lot of exposure for a small amount of money, including media exposure.”
Last year, $7,000 was granted to the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation to sponsor a series of markets on California Avenue in Brighton Heights on the second Saturday of each month, June through September. At the California Markets event, more than 50 local artists and other vendors participated.
The day’s festivities included a fashion show, parade, live music, a barbeque and a home beer brew-off. More than 1,000 people turned out to enjoy the fun. “It was so successful that we did it again in October, and we’re planning it for this summer, as well,” comments Lauren Stauffer, corresponding secretary for the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation.
They hosted another on June 28th, featuring the grand opening of “Johnny Angel Ginchy Stuff, ” a memorabilia and antiques store owned by Johnny Angel of “Halos” fame. The California Markets has already proved to be phenomenal for the community. “When we started writing the Biz Buzz grant, California Avenue was 50% vacant,” Stauffer says. “There was so much transformation from the energy of that first event that by the time it was done, we were 90% full. Today, we’re at 100% occupancy.”
Other nifty Biz Buzz projects have included Bark Shadyside in March 2013. As part of its “Think Shadyside” theme, the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce developed this project to help promote the business districts as dog-friendly.The awarded $7,000 was used to host a Pup Walk; 169 dogs and their owners participated, and $1,835 was raised for the Animal Rescue League and Shelter and Wildlife Center.
During the walk, dog-friendly amenities such as water bowls and fully stocked treat jars were provided to about 50 participating businesses, as well as dog waste bag dispensers and neighborhood walking maps.
In the heart of Downtown, Biz Buzz granted $7,000 to the Pittsburgh Downtown CDC in October 2013 for HATCH, a project that launched a crowd-funding website for local small businesses.
In the East Allegheny and historic Deutschtown neighborhoods, a $7,000 award to the Northside Leadership Conference in November and December 2013 resulted in the New Allegheny Market House, a holiday artist pop-up market in an empty storefront on East Ohio Street.
Also during November 2013, another $7,000 grant to the Oakland Business Improvement District–in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and South Craig Street and Fifth/Forbes businesses–resented the “Shop Small, Shop Oakland” promotion to encourage folks to shop local on Small Business Saturday.
Money was also awarded to the South Side Chamber of Commerce this past March to set up a parking and transportation center for St. Patrick’s Day. An entire block along East Carson Street was made available for valets, a shuttle service and a cabstand. “That was a pilot project for them and it was a success, so they will probably do it again next March,” Fitzgibbons comments.
Interested in applying for a Biz Buzz grant? “Highlight what’s unique in your district,” Fitzgibbons advises. “Do something that will bring new people into your district—either new business or customers. So when people hear that something cool is happening in that district, it will prompt them to drive by it on their way home from work that evening and check it out.” And in the process create some buzz.