When I was 55, I committed to help revitalize Braddock, PA, a devastated borough of Pittsburgh, using my expertise as a tax attorney and real estate developer. We have created a model for community-driven revitalization that could be replicated in other communities.
The problem I am trying to solve
Once a vibrant town, Braddock was the Silicon Valley of its day. But when the steel industry collapsed, it lost 90 percent of its residents and 90 percent of its buildings. Three years ago, I was inspired to shift my focus from maintaining a thriving legal career to leveraging my skills to rebuild the town. I joined forces with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (now Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor) and chef Kevin Sousa. We cared about the residents who remained and wanted to attract others back.
The first project was resuscitating an initiative to create local jobs, provide culinary training and use locally grown produce — the Superior Motors community restaurant. The project had stalled several years prior, but by resolving complex infrastructural, financial and construction obstacles, I helped to revive and expand it. We opened a new world-class restaurant in a place that hadn’t had any restaurant in over 30 years. We have hired between 50 and 70 percent of the staff from the area at well- above-average wages, offered a deep discount to locals, and launched a job training program to enable community members, including people released from prison, to find meaningful employment. Due to its community mission and outstanding cuisine, Superior Motors received national and global acclaim in 2018, including being among Food & Wine magazine’s top 10 restaurants in the U.S.