Steubenville Business Incubator Offers Some Great Opportunities | News, Sports, Jobs


OPPORTUNITIES — Damasae Pendelton, owner of Pendelton Construction, said Thrive in Steubenville, the city-funded incubator for low-income and minority entrepreneurs, gave him the tools he needed to start his own business and into his new one invest community. – Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE – It was love at first sight to hear that from Damasae Pendelton.

“During COVID we traveled everywhere”, said pendulumton, owner of pendulumton construction. “It was the opposite of what other people were doing. (Instead of staying home), we went out and adventured, took advantage of the open highways and came over the (Veterans) Memorial Bridge and stumbled across Steubenville.”

Something about that first impression touched him.

“It reminded me so much of my hometown that I fell in love immediately. The fog was coming from the river, you could just see the light shining through.” he said. “You could just feel that this city was alive at one point, and I knew this was the place I wanted to raise my family. I did the research, we looked at the demographics. I knew I wanted to put my foot down here, not only because I knew I had the ability to help bring it back to life, but I… found out that some of the best schools in the country were here . I knew I wanted to be in the community.”

An eighth-generation carpenter, pendulumton grew up in Haverhill, Mass., a small town on the Merrimack River. He said it’s an old shoe mill town “A bit like Steubenville, all industries gone.”

“The city was just deserted by their income, their infrastructure, which really got people there.” he said. “Growing up, I had to witness the transformation from an abandoned, deserted, forgotten town 40 miles north of Boston to what it is today, taking advantage of the vacant shoe factories, converting them into apartments and shopping malls, demolishing ramshackle houses, rebuilding the infrastructure. I’ve watched the market change from an industrial area to some sort of warm suburban area outside of the city where it’s great to raise kids.

“That’s what drew me to Steubenville, it’s like going back in time and actually being part of the change – it was so important to me. There are tons of new businesses flocking to Steubenville, they are taking so many actions to revitalize parks and infrastructure. It’s so amazing that now that I’m an adult I can be a part of it.”

They found an apartment and settled into Steubenville, working odd jobs and saving every penny he could. “One morning I saw a story about Thrive in Steubenville, a business incubator that was coming to town.” he remembers.

Thrive in Steubenville is the brainchild of Paramount Pursuits, a Pennsylvania consulting firm the city has hired to help locals start and grow businesses. The 12-month program is designed to help entrepreneurs lay a foundation for entrepreneurship by teaching them how to create business and marketing plans, providing them with digital marketing support, helping them understand finance, and identifying and obtaining funding and networks .

To be eligible, entrants must be residents of Steubenville and the business they operate or intend to operate must be located within the city limits. You must also meet the income guidelines.

Once approved, participants are assigned mentors who meet with them twice a month. When they have questions, all they have to do is ask them, and when Paramount employees can’t answer, they find a professional who can.

“I remember saying to myself, this is wonderful – my goal was to come here, start my family and start a business. I said, “Look at that, that’s God’s calling, because they’re looking for entrepreneurs.”

After months of skimping, he found they had saved enough money to get started as a limited liability company.

“Of course it wasn’t enough, but at the time I thought it was enough.” he said. “I remembered seeing that story and turned to Paramount Pursuits. Man this was life changing, you are such an amazing group of people who dedicate themselves every day to helping entrepreneurs thrive.”

Over the next year he learned how to be successful in business – from creating a business plan to networking with other business owners.

“I didn’t sit down, I didn’t breathe” he said. “I didn’t know… what was coming. By the end of the year I had three accountants and actually transitioned from an LLC to an S Corporation.”

Pendelton Construction specializes in building extensions and renovations. All of the carpentry is done in-house, but Pendelton said he’s forged connections with some of the most skilled craftsmen in the area. “People who are already here” with the same commitment to quality and brings them to jobs when needed.

He said he tries to offer customers the most innovative technologies, such as drones and lasers.

“We have drones that fly over it and can tell you about your roof and gutters – things that men normally do on a ladder, but now I can take the roof to customers using drone technology.”

He said his company is just as innovative on the administrative side, offering things like in-house financing “It gives people the opportunity to actually have the new bathroom they need.”

“We build on a personal level”, he said. “It’s one of the main reasons people contact us. You understand that we offer financing based on your situation, not based on your creditworthiness. That makes a big difference for some people, they don’t have to pull money out of their 401,000 to get a new bathroom. Sometimes giving people five months to make payments can make all the difference.”

Business was booming, and in that first year, when he wasn’t renovating and expanding private homes, he helped remodel homes — about 15 of them — for other investors trying to build a stronger community.

This year, he plans to do something of his own, using money he saved himself and investments from his grandfather, a veteran and government retiree, and other family members who share his passion for rebuilding neighborhoods. He’s already bought a few run-down homes in neighborhoods that are in dire need of maintenance, including one on Rosswell Avenue.

“We’re working on our first rental properties, targeting the forgotten neighborhoods – neighborhoods that people invested in to collect rent but didn’t care.” he said. “Our goal is to provide quality housing for people who would not normally have the opportunity to have a beautiful home, and to make it not only affordable but also beautiful. That’s this year’s mission, to try and revive those kinds of neighborhoods.”

They are already working on the Rosswell Avenue property and hope to have it ready for rent this summer. Pendelton said it was an illegal two-unit apartment when he bought it. When complete it will be 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths with a downstairs laundry room.

“These are the most expensive properties to invest in because they’ve been so neglected.” he pointed out. “People used to buy them, get as much money out and invest as little as possible. We do the opposite. I want to preserve neighborhoods and try to get people who have lived here all their lives to stay here.”

Pendelton, the youngest of five children, said his mother worked hard to get her family out of low-income housing, taking just about any job she could find until she became a CNA, then an LPN, and finally a nurse.

“Growing up, we lived in houses where cockroaches used to climb the walls.” he said. “Seeing my mother transition from that to homeownership is what drives me as an individual to be able to see that kind of growth. Even if it’s not the best neighborhood, there are people out there like my mom who work their ass off and all they want to do is come home to a nice home.” And then, when his family first settled in Steubenville, Pendelton said he accidentally rented from a slumlord who wasn’t willing to do anything about the bugs, including bed bugs, that infested his properties. While fighting with the landlord to make it livable, “It struck me again and again that I couldn’t believe the conditions under which he rents out his houses.”

“We want to be better” he said. “I know people can’t pay thousands of dollars a month, but it can still be clean and they can feel good living there. That’s this year’s mission, to try and revive those kinds of neighborhoods.”

He has set himself a high goal: in the next ten years he wants to revitalize five properties every year.

“We will continue to work on third-party properties, but this year we took on our own properties. We’re fixing them, the goal is to make them accessible to people in Section 8 and give them quality… quality countertops, flooring, ceiling fans – things that people don’t normally put in because they expect to be ripped out. We try to select things with a lifetime guarantee, we do our due diligence when purchasing and selecting materials. Our goal is to increase the value of the quarters.

“It’s a long road and a really big gamble, but we’re not in it for the money. We are committed to revitalizing neighborhoods. To be able to have someone open the door to one of our properties and say, “Wow, it’s beautiful – I can’t believe it’s my home”… that’s what we’re here for, to give people a fresh start make possible. Having a home to come home to and truly own is what makes the difference in people’s lives.”

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