Why support Black-owned businesses?

Facing Challenges

412Connect is a program created to link Black-owned businesses with the university community. Our goal is to create long-lasting positive connections with Black-owned businesses in the Pittsburgh area.

In the past 10 years, the city of Pittsburgh has transformed, and some say for the better. In 2017, Pittsburgh was named Top 10 Best Foodie Cities by Smart Asset. In 2019, the Economist Intelligence Unit named Pittsburgh the third most livable city in the United States and the 34th in the world. However, not all Pittsburgh residents and neighborhoods have benefited from this transformation.

Map of BOBs in relation to the university community.

Map of Black-owned businesses in relation to the university community. (Data from Cocoapreneur and Black-owned.pgh)

Pittsburgh neighborhoods are historically segregated by race, and Black-owned businesses face a number of systemic challenges that inhibit their growth and success. These challenges include a lack of access to capital, mentorship networks, and business opportunity, all of which can limit their ability to absorb market disruptions. These structural inequalities have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to disproportionate economic slowdowns and closures. According to The State of Working America, “Black people spend four percent more money annually than any other race, although they are the least represented race, and the race that lives in poverty at the highest rate.”

We have seen repeatedly how Black businesses get the short end of the stick in cities throughout the US. From Black content creators on TikTok, to street fashion muses, to musicians, to chefs, to tech startups, examples abound. At 412Connect, we aim to do something about this with the help of our community, one that is also starving for change.

We can ALL be a part of impactful change for Black-owned businesses in the Pittsburgh area. Social media is a powerful FREE tool that can help change the course of any business by offering visibility opportunities. By promoting services and amplifying brand recognition, 412Connect’s social media initiative can help Black-owned businesses create a solid new customer base.

Historically, college students throughout the world have given rise to movements that have changed the status quo. We invite you to join us in sparking a movement to uplift Black-owned businesses in our own backyard.

Let’s partner together to create community, change, and celebration.