Pirates, PNC help local small businesses

November 24th, 2021

For the past two seasons, the Pirates and PNC have teamed up for the Pirates Small Business Support campaign, originally designed to help guide local entrepreneurs through the challenges and uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic. With guidance from the North Side Chamber of Commerce, African American Chamber of Commerce and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a total of 12 small businesses were supported by the program over the past two seasons.

The small businesses chosen had a specific promotional period with the Pirates providing in-game, social media, online and in-park assets. Those included live drop-ins by Pirates broadcasters, free 30-second radio and television commercials produced by the Pirates, social media sponsorship with logo inclusion and signage inside PNC Park. In addition, each small business received a grant during a pregame check presentation.

“Small businesses are so critical to the fabric of what makes Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh and what makes every community a community. You’re our neighbors, you’re our friends and you’re people that we care about,” Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said at a mid-November luncheon at PNC Park that celebrated the program and the small businesses involved. “The pandemic threw everybody for a loop. We really wanted to help in any way we could, and we did that with our very best community partner -- and that’s PNC. We’re proud to get a chance to celebrate the work that you all do every single day.”

Lou Cestello, the head of regional markets and regional president for PNC in Pittsburgh, also offered an inspiring message when he addressed the crowd at the luncheon.

“What really makes this community strong is its small businesses,” he said. “You see that when you walk through the North Side, you walk through Lawrenceville, you walk through Squirrel Hill, or you walk through Mt. Lebanon. We have people that care, people that roll up their sleeves and work hard, people that make a difference day in and day out. You’re what’s driving Pittsburgh. You’re what makes us a great city.”

Kabeyia & Kompany -- a firm that provides payroll, bookkeeping, tax preparation and notary public services -- was selected for the Pirates Small Business Support initiative last spring upon a recommendation from the African American Chamber of Commerce. Since then, Kabeyia & Kompany has moved from its original location in Oakland and expanded into two offices -- one in Squirrel Hill and one in McKeesport -- with help from the program.

“It’s been tremendous for us in terms of being able to scale the business through the leverage and recognition the Pirates offered us,” said Kabeyia Jones, the owner and president of Kabeyia & Kompany. “Small businesses have the same needs as larger corporations, but with less resources. What the Pirates have done is reach out to small businesses and give them an opportunity to do bigger and better things. We don’t even know how to find the right words to thank the Pirates for doing that, but it’s been a blessing. It’s just been so impactful for us.”

Mike Sukitch owns and operates Mike’s Beer Bar, which is located on Federal Street directly across from PNC Park. He’s one of the Pirates’ neighbors by proximity and being selected for the Small Business Support initiative last year strengthened his relationship with the team and benefitted his establishment.

“When we were approached about the program, it was right in the middle of the pandemic, which was a very difficult time for all businesses,” Sukitch said. “We were quite pleased and touched to even be considered for something like this with the Pirates reaching out to small businesses. Over time, we got a lot of recognition through the program. People knew that we were open, who we were and what our business was about.

“We couldn’t have been more pleased with what the results were. It went beyond what would be considered a business or professional relationship. It became a personal relationship too. I absolutely feel like a neighbor.”