Staff of the Neighborhood Community Development Fund.

Businesses in Allegheny County owned by people of color and women are getting a boost from a $560,00 grant from the Neighborhood Community Development Fund.

The Neighborhood Community Development Fund received grant money from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund Program to support businesses owned by BIPOC individuals, women and people from low-income backgrounds.

The CDFI Fund offers planning and financing assistance throughout Allegheny County and provides loans for affordable housing developers, strategic real estate redevelopment in low-income communities and business loans.

Mark Masterson, executive director of the Neighborhood Community Development Fund, says the grant will enable the organization to offer lower-cost loans with fixed interest rates, while continuing its work with businesses in low-income communities. 

Despite the organization’s roots on the North Side, Masterson believes that solely providing these services within Pittsburgh is insufficient, therefore the Neighborhood Community Development offers loans throughout Allegheny County.

The organization has funded several small businesses, such as Wigenton Candle Co., Premier Energy Network and Bottlerocket Social Hall.

“Lot of folks say that minority-owned businesses are underserved,” says Masterson. “I would say that they’re almost unserved.”

In 2022, the Neighborhood Community Development Fund disbursed 95 loans and provided more than $5.8 million in loans than it did in the previous year. Masterson predicts it will provide approximately $8 million this year.

The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund helps the Neighborhood Community Development Fund to support underserved areas. Along with the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program, the organization helps provide across Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties. 

“We’re going to help those folks with these funds to provide low-cost financing for their small businesses,” says Masterson. “That’s going to help them build wealth. It’s going to help them create jobs in neighborhoods that really need the employment, and we’re just happy that we can help those folks realize their dreams.”

Jason PhoxGeneral Assignment Reporter

Jason Phox is a journalist in the Pittsburgh area sharing important information with the people of the Steel City. He enjoys writing, photography, and mostly comic books.