Over the past two seasons, the Pirates and PNC have teamed up for the Pirates Small Business Support campaign, which was originally designed to guide local entrepreneurs through the challenges and uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the direction of the North Side Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a total of 12 small businesses have been supported by the program over the past two seasons.
The selected small businesses had a specific promotional period during which the pirates made in-game, social media, online and in-park assets available. This included live drop-ins from Pirates stations, free 30-second radio and television commercials produced by the Pirates, social media sponsorship with embedding logos and signage in the PNC Park. In addition, each small business received a grant as part of a pre-game check presentation.
“Small businesses are so critical to the very fabric of what makes Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, and every community a community. You are our neighbors, you are our friends and you are the people we care about, ”said Bob Nutting, chairman of the Pirates, at a mid-November lunch at PNC Park celebrating the program and the small businesses involved. “The pandemic has turned everyone upside down. We really wanted to help in every way we could and we did that with our best community partner – and that’s PNC. We pride ourselves on celebrating the work you all do every day. “
Lou Cestello, director of regional markets and regional president of PNC in Pittsburgh, also provided an inspiring message as he addressed the crowd over lunch.
“What makes this community really strong are their small businesses,” he said. “You see, if you go through the North Side, go through Lawrenceville, go through Squirrel Hill, or go through Mt. Lebanon. We have people who care, people who roll up their sleeves and work hard, people who make a difference every day. You are what drives Pittsburgh. You make us a great city. “
Kabeyia & Kompany – a company that provides payroll, accounting, tax preparation and notary services – was selected for the Pirates Small Business Support Initiative last spring on the recommendation of the African American Chamber of Commerce. Since then, Kabeyia & Kompany has moved from its original Oakland location and with the help of the program has expanded into two offices – one in Squirrel Hill and one in McKeesport.
“It has been great for us to scale the business through the influence and recognition that the pirates have given us,” said Kabeyia Jones, owner and president of Kabeyia & Kompany. “Small businesses have the same needs as larger businesses, but with fewer resources. What the pirates have done is reach out to small businesses and give them the opportunity to do bigger and better things. We don’t even know how to find the right words to thank the pirates for this, but it was a blessing. It was just so impressive for us. “
Mike Sukitch owns and operates Mike’s Beer Bar, located on Federal Street just across from PNC Park. He is one of the Pirates’ neighbors because of his proximity and his selection for the Small Business Support Initiative last year strengthened his relationship with the team and benefited his facility.
“When we were approached about the program, it was in the middle of the pandemic, which was a very difficult time for all companies,” said Sukitch. “We were delighted and touched to be considered for something like this in the first place, as the pirates target small businesses. Over time, the program has given us a lot of recognition. People knew we were open about who we were and what our business was about.
“We couldn’t have been happier with the results. It went beyond what would be called a business or professional relationship. It also became a personal relationship. I feel absolutely like a neighbor. “