City of Pittsburgh trying to help minority business owners

PITTSBURGH — Out of 50 metro areas nationwide, Pittsburgh ranked dead last in diversity.

According to a study done by LendingTree, Pittsburgh had only 1% of Black-owned businesses. That’s why the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority challenged to change the face of entrepreneurship, offering up $3 million to minority-owned businesses.

“Cold-press juices, handmade smoothies and smoothie bowls. If it doesn’t grow out of the ground, we don’t use it,” said Brett Gilliam, owner of Live Fresh Cold Press Juice and Smoothie Bar.

Live Fresh Cold Press Juice and Smoothie Bar has been in business for three years. Through the pandemic, they’ve managed two locations, one in Homestead and the other on the Northside — and now it’s growing.

“I just worked open to close literally every single day for about seven months,” Gilliam said as he reflected on his time in business during the pandemic.

By 2023, Gilliam, a native of Homestead, said they will have two more locations in Regent Square and the other on Pitt’s campus. The challenge he says until this year is that it was all self-funded, a hurdle many Black-owned businesses face.

“Us only being open for three years, we haven’t been offered this access to capital,” Gilliam said.

Gillaim’s business was one of the awardees of the funding.

URA Ventures’ first cohort includes event planning company Blanket & Board, the coffee shop Hazelwood Café and Live Fresh Cold Pressed Juice + Smoothie Bar.

“It was really important to me to provide accessible, healthy and affordable options to the community and the surrounding community,” Gilliam said.

Live Fresh Cold Pressed Juice + Smoothie Bar was awarded a low-interest loan of $100,000, which they plan to use to create salary positions, whole distribution and complete the expansion of their fourth location.

It’s a milestone that Gilliam hopes will inspire other Black entrepreneurs.

“Me growing up in the Homestead community, you really don’t see a lot of entrepreneurs, so shining this light, I feel like it’s my duty and responsibility,” said Gilliam.

Live Fresh Cold Press Juice + Smoothie Bar’s Regent Square location will open in November.

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