Keirstin Townsend, co-owner of Pittsburgh Shirt Company in Coraopolis, knows what it’s like to
work a 80 hour work week while facilitating her company’s move to a larger new facility.

“There’s only 24 hours in a day and deadlines need to be met,” said Ms. Townsend.

Wearing several hats and putting in long hours is a way of life of an entrepreneur. And she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Townsend is one of 25 recent graduates from the Planning for Profits program offered by the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center (SBDC), in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration and Appalachian Regional Commission. Planning for Profits is a no-cost, six-part seminar series hosted in Washington, PA, for existing small business owners in Washington, Greene and Allegheny Counties from communities impacted by the downturn of the coal mining industry. The program provides hands-on training in developing new distribution channels, social media marketing, strategic planning and generating sales through customer discovery.

Townsend and her husband are used to the tedious, labor intensive work of screen printing. Recently, they purchased several automated assembly machines to increase efficiency and cut down the number of 14-16 hour days. Townsend said she was grateful for the grant-funded training and curriculum that was focused on her needs.

“The class allowed me to connect with other business owners in our region. Together we were able to share our concerns and successes while learning from each other how to grow our businesses,” she said.

“The intent of the program is to listen and respond with tangible solutions to the business owners in a private, confidential setting,” said Ray Vargo, Director of the University of Pittsburgh SBDC, operated by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE).

Michael Wholihan, Manager of Training & Community Outreach at the IEE, said the SBDC would continue to seek out grants and partnerships to offer additional programs to sustain jobs and new sales for businesses throughout southwestern PA.

The program’s success is exemplified in Casey Clark, owner of Off the Wall Arts in Charleroi. Clark recently opened the second location of the Washington Winery and is set to open a third business, Perked Up, a fast-casual café by the end of May. All three businesses are adjacent to one another in downtown Charleroi.

“I want to have a successful business and create jobs for my community. This class fit my hectic schedule. It helped me recognize the additional services my clients will want from my business going forward,” Clark said.

Upon completing the training program, both Townsend and Clark are now better poised for growth,
one brush stroke and one stitch at a time.

To learn more about the Planning for Profits seminar, contact Ray Vargo at rvargo@innovation.pitt.edu, or Michael Wholihan and mwholihan@innovation.pitt.edu.