PITTSBURG —  New businesses abound in Pittsburg, according to the city, with nearly 40 new starts just in 2018.
According to officials at the City of Pittsburg, 39 new business licenses were granted in 2018, coming close to last year’s total of 41.
Along with several up and coming businesses, many startups up and down Broadway and beyond, have been in the works for a while, and in the past two years, have began to come to fruition.
Collaboration and partnership have been key to the growth according to City Manager Daron Hall, Deputy City Manager Jay Byers, Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Blake Benson and Director of Community Engagement Sydney Anselmi.
The city is emulating Pittsburg’s motto “Forward Together,” they said.
A few years ago the city gathered information from people in the area to pinpoint how to better serve local businesses.
“We are working on changing the ‘we’re a small town, we can’t do that’ to ‘yes we can,’ Pittsburg Public Information Manager Sarah Runyon said.
The city has collaborations with the University Strategic Initiative Office (three years) and the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce (five years)  to work on retention, expansion, entrepreneur development and attraction, which have been top priority for the City of Pittsburg according to Byers. USI gives businesses support, encourages entrepreneurship and helps with small business attraction.
The USI has been around for 30 years, but it was housed on Pittsburg State University campus.
Now housed at Block22, the community can more easily receive the help they need to start, and continue their business, Anselmi said. In 2018, 13 USI supported 13 new businesses, incubated 6 businesses.
The city, chamber and USI work together weekly, like a team to help to “help propel people forward,” Anselmi said.
Benson agreed and said with credit to Hall and Byers, everyone in the collaboration works together to make sure everyone has done their part and is on the same page.

Funding for development
The quarter-cent sales tax for economic development provides the funding to help small businesses and provide resources businesses need, Hall said. However, there are many other avenues of which funding as well.
According to Hall’s recent blog post, “from 2013 through 2018, over $438 million has been spent or committed to projects within the city limits. Of this amount, only six percent is city money,” he wrote. “City funds usually are in the form of bond proceeds, revolving loan funds or operating funds. The majority of the city portion is spread over a seven- to 10-year period. The actual impact on the annual budget is small.”
According to Hall, “an analysis of the city’s investment shows that 70 percent is infrastructure to support growth, in the form of roads, utilities, intersections and parking lots; 20 percent was committed to the Robert W. Plaster Center at Pittsburg State University, which has already paid for itself through the hospitality revenue generated by numerous track and field events held here each year; and nearly 10 percent was for loans and grants from the revolving loan fund to directly support our local manufacturers as they reinvest in their facilities and add jobs to our community.”
“In addition to the city funds, over $412 million has been invested or committed to Pittsburg by other agencies, private individuals or companies, including PSU.
“For a city with a population of just over 20,000, that says a lot about the corporations, philanthropists, investors, and citizens who make this their place of business.”

What to expect in 2019
There are many plans and projects for 2019. One is the official opening of the Makerspace in January at Block22.
It’s more than just business, projects are in the works to help families feel welcome and feel a sense of community, Benson and Byers said. This includes working with churches, schools, programs and other services.
One of the housing projects, Silverback Landing will break ground in the spring after the access road, Silverback Way, is complete. The project is expected to create 50 homes.
Childcare is also being discussed with providers and agencies to help families have a place for children to go while working in the area.
There will be three new restaurants at Block22 at the end of April.
Heather and Roger Horton, owners of Sweet Designs Cakery in Downtown Pittsburg, are opening TOAST, with a diverse menu centered around toast.
Brick + Mortar and Cali Burrito co-owned by Travis Lester, who co-owns Broseph Restaurant Group (BRG) with business partner Justin Safier will also be joining Downtown Pittsburg at Block22.
Beyond Block22, a program for technology transfer of commercial ideas will begin and the Chamber also has plans announce a business expansion project in 2019.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.