A ground breaking ceremony will be held at 52nd and Butler Street, in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, on Friday, May 15, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. to unveil the site of the new Youth Enterprise Zone Mini-Mall and Training Center sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. This $2.5 million construction project has been in the planning stages for two years, and will seek LEED Silver Certification.

“The Boys & Girls Club is doing the innovative work that we need to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of our youths,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. “Our young people will have access to some tremendous opportunities with this new facility.”

The Boys & Girls Club developed the Youth Enterprise Zone Mini-Mall and Training Center as a strategy to increase services to teen populations and further their mission of enabling young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The center will house all social venture business activities under one roof and provide opportunities for specialized workforce development training services.

The Youth Enterprise Zone facility will serve at least 200 teens per year.

The Mini-Mall Café is being designed by New Products Concept and Design Group out of New Jersey. The food service will include involvement by Unilever for a Breyer’s All Natural Ice Cream Franchise and Kraft’s Gevalia Coffee Shop.

“This entrepreneurial project is unique to the Boys & Girls Club movement in the country,” Mike Helper, Boys and Girls Club said. “We are excited about providing major work force development opportunities for the young adults of the community.”

The 22,000 sq. ft. building will include the following features:

Lower Level – Backroom operations for gift basket assembly, poster and laminating production, program staff offices, inventory storage, and dedicated assembly area for workforce development activities.

First Floor Level – Social venture business operations that include food service and retail sales of housewares, clothing, gift items, and specialty products. A workforce of twenty teens will be trained and employed on a consistent basis to manage, implement, and monitor all business operations. Interns and paid teen employees are primarily students from Career Connections Charter High School in Lawrenceville.

Second Floor Mezzanine Level – Area dedicated solely for workforce development and training services to teen participants. Space utilization includes two general classrooms, two computer training centers, special education training classrooms, and two faculty offices.

This project is made possible by funding support from Richard King Mellon Foundation, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Governor Ed Rendell, State Senator Jim Ferlo, State Senator Jay Costa, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, and an anonymous donor.

“I worked to garner over one million dollars in state funding, but for me, this effort started over 10 years ago with the effort to close down a nuisance tavern that had a major fire, followed by years of working to acquire site control of all the parcels so that we would have a prime site for a quality development,” State Senator Jim Ferlo said. “Now the vision of the Boys & Girls Club for a new youth enterprise mini-mall is finally a reality and will prioritize the importance of education and work experience for our young people.”

In 1999 the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania expanded services to inner city teens (ages 14 through 18) by creating a “Youth Enterprise Zone” program that focuses on workforce development and entrepreneurial training. In order to provide teens with “real world” business applications of classroom training, social venture businesses were created in the Lawrenceville community by the Boys & Girls Club. These include: Outlet Connection – a full service retail store, The Spot – a 1950’s style café, Catalog Sales – gift baskets and specialty items, Poster and Laminating Business, and an e-Commerce Website – promoting on-line sales of teen designed products.

Over 400 teens have been engaged in the various social ventures since 1999. The business model is designed for teens to learn all aspects of venture operations which include purchasing, business finances, marketing, inventory control, security, customer service, food service operations, and short and long term sales projections and planning.