Catalyst Connection receives Richard King Mellon Foundation Grant to Assist Manufacturers

September 15, 2020 | Categories: Member News

Pittsburgh, PA. September 15, 2020 – With recent funding awarded by The Richard King Mellon Foundation, Catalyst Connection is leading a regional economic rebound initiative to address manufacturing business challenges, while also connecting local graduate students with southwestern Pennsylvania’s thriving business community. Since March, Catalyst Connection has worked tirelessly to lead, support, and advance manufacturers’ pandemic response and recoveries, and this new initiative will continue those efforts.

The grant funding will enable Catalyst to enact programming that aims to return southwest Pennsylvania’s small and medium manufacturers to December 2019 production and economic levels. Catalyst will partner with the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and other local universities to match graduate students with meaningful, paid workplace learning experiences that address manufacturer challenges, talent shortages, skills gaps, and additional areas of concern, as identified during an assessment. As paid internships are being canceled or rescinded indefinitely in response to the pandemic, Catalyst will connect skilled graduate students to southwestern Pennsylvania’s thriving business community in a win-win scenario for manufacturers and students alike.

Before COVID-19, 2,801 regional manufacturers employed 93,249 workers and directly supported another 220,000 jobs. When the crisis ends, manufacturers can be at the forefront of a local and national recovery. Manufacturing could once again employ and support more than 300,000 workers in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region post-COVID-19.

“Our region’s business leaders have shared with us that they need business recovery and resiliency services and support to become fully operational right now and for the future,” said Petra Mitchell, President & CEO of Catalyst Connection. “Our team of industry experts, advisors, and consultants have been interacting with companies since the first wave of shutdowns, discovering first-hand the needs that companies are experiencing or expect to experience soon. COVID-19 has created incredible challenges for our region’s manufacturers. Still, the pandemic has also created significant opportunities when manufacturers are empowered with the right support, resources, and strategic partnerships.”

“The pandemic has exacted a tremendous economic toll,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “We know that smart, data-based support and interventions will be critical if we are to speed the recovery of key economic sectors such as manufacturing. And that’s why we are pleased to support the work of Catalyst Connection. True to their name, they seek to be an effective catalyst for manufacturing recovery and to create meaningful and powerful connections between our manufacturers, our workforce and our schools.”

As COVID-19-related threats and opportunities have emerged, Catalyst Connection has launched a new assessment tool that provides manufacturers with an instant rating of their COVID-19 recovery and resiliency strengths and weaknesses, based on ten assessment points. Company leaders will receive an assessment report that provides actionable insights and access to resources for high-priority areas.

As an economic development organization dedicated to southwestern Pennsylvania’s small and mid-sized manufacturers, Catalyst Connection has provided resources, support, and strategic partnership for more than 30 years through consulting and training services that accelerate revenue growth and improve productivity.

To access our new COVID-19 Recovery Assessment, click here. For more information about Catalyst Connection, visit or call 412.918.4300.