5 Constructive Groups Helping Pennsylvania Businesses

A lot of factors go into running a successful business, from getting funding to finding a location to working within the economic ecosystem of the area. That's why organizations like the ones listed here are dedicated to making sure that businesses in Pennsylvania are able to thrive, fill the right gaps, and create jobs. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Pennsylvania Groups That Support Local Businesses

Organization Mission
Innovation Works Introduce, connect, support, and expand the startup & entrepreneurial ecosystem within Southwestern Pennsylvania
The Progress Fund Help small businesses grow and create the new jobs that people want throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland
Allegheny Conference on Community Development Improve the economic future and quality of life of the 10-county Pittsburgh region by bringing together public and private sector leaders
Ben Franklin Technology Partners Provide both early-stage and established companies with funding, business and technical expertise, and access to a network of innovative, expert resources
Indy Hall Give freelancers, mobile professionals, and "indy" business owners a place to work, network, and build a community

U.S. Small Business Statistics

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, as of 2018

  • There are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States
  • These make up 99.9% of all U.S. businesses
  • They employ 58.9 million people
  • These make up 47.5% of all U.S. employees
  • Of the 294,834 U.S. companies that exported goods in 2015, 97.6% were small firms
  • Pennsylvania is home to 1.0 million small businesses, which employ 2.5 million people

5 Tips for New Business Owners

  1. Make sure your business is insured.
  2. Stay on top of your finances before tax day comes around.
  3. Learn how to use hashtags and other social media tools.
  4. Have a nice-looking, high-quality logo for your company.
  5. Keep all of your files well organized.

Priceless Advice from 50 Successful Entrepreneurs

In Depth

There are numerous factors involved in the operation of a successful business, from effective planning to reliable capital and smart management. But people can't start or run their enterprises alone, which is why it's so important that there are groups committed to lending them a helping hand. The organizations included here do just that, offering funding, technical assistance, and guidance to everything from startups to established companies. In no particular order, here are five valuable groups spurring economic growth by supporting individuals and their businesses throughout Pennsylvania.

At #1 is Innovation Works, which devotes itself to connecting, expanding, and strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Supporting tech entrepreneurs at every level of their careers, it helps them launch their startups, secure funding, and find the resources necessary to continue growing their ideas and their businesses. With a wide-ranging technological focus, the group has invested in hundreds of companies throughout the Pittsburgh area in sectors such as computer science, artificial intelligence, robotics, and life sciences.

Innovation Works provides many resources to help its clients start and advance their companies, including early-stage and growth-stage investment, a large community network, and educational activities such as group sessions and one-on-one meetings. Among its programs are the collaborative, cohort-based AlphaLab accelerators, which support software and hardware startups through weekly programming, funding, and connections to experts. Also designed to facilitate growth are the group's venture and seed funds, while an eight-week summer program is offered for aspiring teenage entrepreneurs. Tell the organization how you can help by sending a message through its site.

Innovation Works provides many resources to help its clients start and advance their companies, including early-stage and growth-stage investment, a large community network, and educational activities such as group sessions and one-on-one meetings.

For #2 we have The Progress Fund. Maintaining a community development focus, this non-profit financial institution provides funding to enterprises such as restaurants, retail stores, recreational venues, breweries, and other small businesses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. With the aim of generating increased tourist and employment opportunities in the region, it has lent hundreds of loans that have helped create or retain thousands of jobs. To further bolster the regional economy, the institution works to promote local agriculture, diverse company ownership, and the restoration and preservation of historic buildings.

Financing offered by The Progress Fund can go up to more than one million dollars, and is intended to aid people who are beginning, expanding, or purchasing small businesses. The loans, which can be used for everything from buying property and inventory to rehabilitating buildings, have variable interest rates and terms that typically last from five to fifteen years. At no charge, the organization also supplies its borrowers with resources such as marketing assistance, financial analysis, and referrals, as well as coaching and training services through regional partners. If you know a business that could use help, refer them to the group online or by phone.

Coming in at #3 is the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, which unites leaders from Pittsburgh's public and private sectors in order to enhance economic opportunities in the ten-county region. These leaders and their organizations make up the Regional Investors Council, with which the conference works to analyze issues, support policy improvements, and internationally market the area to foster investment in its businesses. Responding to pressing economic challenges, Allegheny focuses on addressing and boosting such areas as infrastructure, financial equality, and sustainable work environments.

These leaders and their organizations make up the Regional Investors Council, with which the conference works to analyze issues, support policy improvements, and internationally market the area to foster investment in its businesses.

Critical to the conference's efforts are its three affiliate organizations, which work to identify and ameliorate issues that are creating fiscal obstacles. Conducting research and analysis, the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh tackles important public policy topics such as wastewater management and pension reform. Advocating at levels from local to federal, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce seeks to influence decisions related to the area's competitiveness and welfare. Finally, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance advertises the region to businesses from around the globe. Become a member to get your own organization involved in the conference.

For #4 we get Ben Franklin Technology Partners. One of the country's longest-running economic development programs focused on technology, BFTP provides emerging and established companies with financing, technical expertise, and access to business resources. Boasting four strategically located headquarters across Pennsylvania, the organization acts as a statewide catalyst for financial progress by answering the needs of various communities, capitalizing on regional strengths, and motivating both public and private investments to create and sustain job opportunities.

Dedicated to giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to launch and grow their startups, BFTP makes direct investments in technology-based companies and early-stage venture funds. Along with capital, it also provides access to an array of services in technology development, business, and mentoring, such as technical evaluations, marketing advice, fundraising strategies, and more. To broaden its impact, the organization forges vital partnerships with myriad individuals and companies, creating a constructive network of entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, and other influential groups. Spread the word by posting about BFTP on social media.

To broaden its impact, the organization forges vital partnerships with myriad individuals and companies, creating a constructive network of entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, and other influential groups.

Finally, arriving at #5 is Indy Hall. Co-founded in 2006 by a freelancer who longed for the professional camaraderie of the company workspace, this Philadelphia-based organization nurtures a co-working community focused on valuable human interaction and collaboration. Comprised of hundreds of members, from independent entrepreneurs to telecommuters and creatives, it offers a comfortable, productive environment in which diverse colleagues can meet, exchange ideas, and engage in community building across industries. The group also maintains a private online space, where fellow members can chat and give each other feedback on their projects.

To enable maximum comfort and productivity for everyone, Indy Hall furnishes its workers with personal desks, lounge couches, communal tables, meeting rooms, a full kitchen, and a quiet study hall. The sundry amenities include sound recording equipment, shared monitors, photocopiers, a 3D printing station, and a digital projector. There's also free tea and coffee, as well as a nursing room for mothers. An extensive events calendar, meanwhile, includes activities such as parties, games, and a monthly presentation series for members and guests to engage in show and tell. Get involved by purchasing one of the group's flexible membership options.