A dashboard tracking the vital signs of downtown Pittsburgh.




Featured Story

Juneteenth Brings Attention to Black-owned Businesses Downtown

back to dashboard

In celebration of Juneteenth, we’re spotlighting the triumphs and struggles of Black entrepreneurs based in downtown Pittsburgh.


enslaved Black people freed on June 19, 1865

1 on 1

private training offered by ClarkFit Boxing and Fitness


square feet in Emerald City


date in May declared as PAIR Day by the City of Pittsburgh

Did you know that the most recently added federal holiday has been celebrated across the United States since 1866? June 19 marks Juneteenth, the date when the Union Army enforced the Emancipation Proclamation in Confederate Texas, and over 250,000 enslaved Black people were freed in the state. This day was titled “Juneteenth,” and celebrated yearly by Black communities in Texas through feasts, performances, and more.

In Pittsburgh, the legacy of Juneteenth continues. Over the past decade, dozens of Black-owned businesses have opened in downtown Pittsburgh. One building alone is home to several Black businesses: Emerald City, a co-working and social space for Black entrepreneurs and creatives on the second floor of the multipurpose Greenwood Smithfield building on Smithfield Street.

The Greenwood Plan non-profit bought the space and opened for business in March. Khamil Bailey, co-founder of The Greenwood Plan and the Greenwood Smithfield Building, says the space has become a homing beacon for Black-owned businesses in downtown and beyond.

“We share a history in this country, we have these threads that bind us,” says Bailey. “A lot of us are met with the same obstacles when it comes to funding our businesses, finding mentors, finding support… so we tend to collectively vent about a lot of these things and find community, even in the struggle of running a business. Our cultural affinity binds us.”

Featured on the first floor of the Greenwood Smithfield Building is PAIR Charcuterie, a newly opened catering business founded by Shaquala Swinton.

Open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, the menu offers quality foods featured on charcuterie boards: cured meats, cheeses, fresh fruits, bagels, pastries, and more. Those seeking a luxury event space, a remarkable gift, or simply looking to treat themselves are in luck: PAIR Charcuterie is open for private events and online orders.

In honor of Juneteenth, PAIR Charcuterie will have extended hours and will feature a live musician playing to welcome in visitors. Swinton says her business is celebrating Juneteenth by bringing people together through the love of food, supporting working mothers, creating opportunities for minority entrepreneurs, and enriching our community.

“As a Black woman entrepreneur, I’m super proud to be able to drive the overall legacy that Juneteenth represents and to foster community, culture and connection,” Swinton says, adding that she supports other entrepreneurs pursuing similar paths.

With help from Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Project Pop-Up program, Swinton was able to cover some of her startup costs and tackle the city’s permitting process.

Less than half a mile away in Market Square is ClarkFit Boxing and Fitness, owned by C.C. Clark. After working as a boxer and fitness trainer, Clark decided to open his own gym in 2016. Eight years later, the gym is thriving and a fitness gem for Pittsburghers and beyond. Travelers from New York, Los Angeles, and Boston visit ClarkFit to partake in the gym’s private studio and welcoming atmosphere.

Clark has found that boxing has strong ties with Black culture, and many Black people have family or friends who have boxed professionally or recreationally. Most of all, he believes that boxing has the power to bring people together.

“My gym is one of the more diverse gyms around,” says Clark. “There will be a rapper and someone with a private equity company working out next to each other. A cop and someone who got out of prison working out next to each other. Whoever comes in here, everyone is equal.”

Clark hopes to expand his gym in Pittsburgh and other areas as well.

For entrepreneurs like Bailey, Swinton, and Clark, Pittsburgh is a breeding ground for successful Black-owned businesses. Alongside a rise in awareness and celebration of Black culture, events like Juneteenth offer more Black entrepreneurs the resources and confidence to thrive.


    our partners

    get the updates

    Privacy Policy (opens in new tab)Terms of Use (opens in new tab)Cookie Policy (opens in new tab)Accessibility Statement (opens in new tab)Consent Preferences

    Submit inquiries and stories related to IndexPGH: info@indexpgh.com