Connected: East Liberty, PA

What do a wellness center, a theater, a co-working space and nonprofit focused on building stronger communities have in common? They all rely on the internet in ways you might not expect.

Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA) and representatives from Internet Association member companies Airbnb, eBay, Google, Lyft, Spotify, Thumbtack, and Uber traveled to East Liberty, “a culturally diverse neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA’s East End1” to visit local businesses and nonprofits in the area including Peace, Love, And Zen, Small Seeds Development, Inc., Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, and The Beauty Shoppe to hear what they had to saw about how the internet has helped their organizations grow and succeed.

The internet helps main street businesses and organizations create jobs, connect with consumers, and compete worldwide. IA’s Internet Community Crawls showcase the ways the internet drives economic growth and jobs in communities around the country. Watch what main street business and their elected representatives had to say about the importance of the internet to their local economy in Internet Association’s Connected video series.

“East Liberty is a shining example of how the internet helps entire communities thrive. Businesses and nonprofits benefit from reaching a global audience thanks to the internet and online platforms. I appreciate Rep. Doyle’s commitment to a free and open internet and for participating in today’s crawl.”

Melika Carroll, IA Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs
Congressman Doyle @ The Beauty Shoppe

If the internet were turned off tomorrow a lot of these businesses would struggle, a lot of people wouldn’t have access to the kinds of information they need. A lot of people that are homebound that count on the internet to maybe have goods delivered, food delivered, services delivered. The social safety net would be affected and the ability for small businesses to expand their customer base and to get their products up would be greatly affected by it.

Congressman Doyle (D-PA)

Kelly Strayhorn Theatre

We arrived at the beautiful Kelly Strayhorn Theatre to talk with Darrell Kinsel and Desiree Lee. Kelly Strayhorn is a theater fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. They strive to connect with the East Liberty community, and that on technology. KST has used their online presence to make it even easier for the community to find them. Whether it’s promoting events on Facebook or through their active Twitter handle, KST wants the community to know where they are and how to find them.

Even though we are a theater based in Pittsburgh a lot of our artists come from other spaces… we’ve had submissions from Israel, Ukraine, so that was really encouraging to see how the word was spread through the internet and it also allows our artists to be able to take those ideas and take our mission vision much further.

Darrell Kinsel, Kelly Strayhorn Theatre

Small Seeds Development, Inc.

At Small Seeds, a nonprofit that has provided social services and educational support in the Pittsburgh metro area since 1999, we talked with Brittany Tonet. Brittany told us how small Seeds provides direct services to combat violence, sustain and support families, and provide opportunities to families and youth so they can thrive. They use online platforms like Facebook as well as Google AdWords to help people find their services and keep advertising costs down.

A lot of who we serve are kids and teens. They’re not going to be like “oh let me look on the flyer board at the library” to find whatever. It’s not that anymore for this generation. It’s “what can I find on my phone.” So we want to make sure that those teens that we’re serving find us easily. And when you’re in social services time is money, so the internet makes up for that lack of funds by giving us a cheap way of saying: “Hey, come find us.”

Brittany Tonet, Small Seeds

Peace, Love, and Zen

Peace, Love, and Zen is a 100% woman, veteran-owned company whose goal is to provide a sanctuary where members of the community can de-stress while receiving state-of-the-art natural therapy. Boasting one of the only Himalayan salt caves in the region, they rely heavily on online review platforms like Yelp and Google reviews to bring them credibility and to get their name out to potential customers.

If the Internet turned off tomorrow we would have a challenge marketing ourselves. It would be going back to print advertising and maybe radio. We do online scheduling the processing of credit cards, of course, [so] there would be many many challenges.

Susan Coe, Peace, Love, and Zen

The Beauty Shoppe

We met up with Zachary Ciccone at The Beauty Shoppe— a co-working company that transforms historic buildings into vibrant and beautiful workplaces with integrated services and amenities for the monthly or tenured customers. Their goal is to create a community of entrepreneurs immersed in the internet for work.

We’ve changed the way that people are finding and consuming office space so internet is vital to people discovering us for the first time.

Zachart Ciccone, The Beauty Shoppe

Fun Fact: The internet economy adds nearly 120,000 jobs and more than $68 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.

Want to read more about the crawl and East Liberty? Check out the story from the Pittsburgh Business Times.

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