Neighborhood Allies Supports over 500 Small Businesses through Programming and Technical Assistance

Jun 14, 2023

Small Businesses are the lifeblood and anchors of our neighborhoods. Neighborhood-based entrepreneurs create jobs, wages, and are critical to the social and economic health of every community. Neighborhood Allies supports local small businesses in a myriad of ways. Our support looks different across our programming, but regardless of the tasks, we aim to meet business owners where they are in order to help them reach new heights in their entrepreneurial journeys.

Demi Kolke, our Senior Program Manager of Corridor Revitalization, at a recent Small Business workshop on content creation for social media with our partners at First Sip Studios.

Get Online Grow Online: Joining our Small Business Network

Our staple program that directly assists small businesses in levelling up their online presence is our Get Online Grow Online (GOGO) program. GOGO allows businesses to receive 12 hours of free one-on-one technical assistance to upgrade or launch a full e-commerce website to enable online shopping and retail. This program was created in partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our small businesses were not equipped to receive orders online for their products or services, so we began aiding businesses in implementing new, creative ways to reach their customers through online interaction. The program has grown, and we’ve now supported 514 small businesses through GOGO and GOGO-related workshops and events since May of 2020.

These businesses are located throughout the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Many of them are service-based businesses, providing consulting or marketing services, technical or trade skills, and more, while others fall under the categories of retail or personal services, such as tattoo shops and barber shops. Many of the businesses are based in food and beverage services. Regardless of their industry, a large majority of businesses that we support are minority or women owned. In fact, in 2021 and 2022, of the 223 businesses we served, 93% were minority and/or women owned. In addition, we currently have 10 technical assistance providers that work with the businesses – all small businesses themselves! Five are minority owned, 3 are women owned, and 1 minority women owned. Most have been with us since program inception.

Our very own Demi Kolke, Senior Program Manager of Corridor Revitalization, works to stay in touch with our GOGO network by gathering and sending vetted resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs often, and by filling in gaps in the system by holding specialized workshops that our network specifically needs.

How Businesses Leverage our Support: Comcast RISE Grants 2022

Neighborhood Allies was one of 3 local organizations chosen by Comcast to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance to our vibrant network of local small business owners. Over the course of one month, we spread the word about this grant opportunity, including to those businesses who participated in our GOGO Program. We also held 6 assistance workshops and offered one-on-one help with applications during the two-week submission window. Plus, our amazing partners at First Sip Studios, a former Get Online Grow online participant themselves, offered FREE headshots, product photography, and social media and business consults to attendees. Altogether, we served more than 125 businesses through our collaborative work. Neighborhood Allies assisted 158 businesses in applying for funding, making us the #1 partner nationwide for most applications submitted. Of the 100 businesses that received a $10,000 Comcast RISE grant, 16 of them were in our network of small businesses. Read about a few businesses in our network who received the grant.

Check out just a few testimonials from GOGO Participants!

Thank you to all of the wonderful businesses in our network! Because of you, our communities can thrive. We can’t wait to support 500 more businesses!

Check out our upcoming June and July 2023 Workshops for small businesses! Topics include operations essentials, sales merchandising, and scaling your business. Register to attend at:

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA