1. Organization: Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation
2. Founding Date: 2008
3. Executive Director: Tracey Evans Board President: Bernie Wetzel
4. Current Staff Size and Composition: Four full time staff members, one part time staff member
5. Geographic Area Served: The Borough of Wilkinsburg
6. Mission Statement: To promote the revitalization of Wilkinsburg through business & residential development; organizational & individual civic leadership; and ethnic & cultural diversity.
7. What is one project or program that you are really excited about?
Our big project right now is the revitalization of the Wilkinsburg Train Station. Our fundraising goal is to raise $3 million by the end of the year. We just kicked off our public fundraising campaign on October 6th where we began asking community members and community businesses to donate to the project. We currently are around $2.5 million, so things are going really well! Lots of community members have expressed interest in getting involved especially because the train station is in the middle of the business district and has been vacant for about 40 years. The goal is to get the station up to code and then next year we will look at a tenet strategy to try to find a business that is a best fit for the location and the community.
8. What are some of the corporation’s recent accomplishments?
We were incorporated in 2008 but didn’t have an office until 2010 and since then we have had a lot of success in all of our programs. We have had 57 business districts sold, 22 vacant store fronts filled, 267 residents have received small business training (that only just started last year), 31 new businesses have located themselves in Wilkinsburg, and 2,091 youths are/have been supported through our youth programs.
9. Tell us what you love about your neighborhood. What is your neighborhood’s best kept secret?
The business district is pretty great with many large and historic buildings and homes. Additionally, Wilkinsburg is the home of a large artist community especially because living here is fairly affordable and houses are big enough to have home studios in them. A couple of artists have opened up businesses which is definitely a really cool addition to the historic business district. There are also many generational businesses still in operation, for example, Nancy’s Diner has been open in Wilkinsburg for over 30 years!
10. What is a business in your neighborhood that partners with your organization for events, or has in the past? How has it helped you?
We partner with a lot of the businesses in Wilkinsburg for all of our events throughout the year. Most significantly, we had a liquor license referendum in 2015 and put a question on the ballot about whether or not businesses should be allowed to obtain licenses and 61% of the community voted “yes”. For this, Salvatore’s Pizza was a really big supporter because they wanted to get a licence which helped us a lot to have local businesses supporting our goal.
11. What is an interesting fact about your corporation or its history?
Wilkinsburg was a dry community because historically it has been a very religious community. It used to be called the city of churches because in our very small location we have 32 churches, most of which are still occupied and used for some purpose.
12. What are some of your upcoming events?
This fall, we’re asking community members to host house parties and other fundraising events to raise money for the train station renovation, so that will be a continuing event throughout the end of the year. Additionally, our holiday party this year is on December 8th!
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