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History and Awards

Founded in 1997, The Progress Fund works to creates economic opportunity in northern Appalachia including western and northern Pennsylvania, western Maryland and northern West Virginia.

The Progress Fund is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and determined to be a nonprofit 501(C)(3) by the IRS. It was certified as a Community Development Financial Institution by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 1998.

The primary activity of The Progress Fund has been to provide loans to underserved small businesses and microenterprises in the tourism and local food industries. To effect greater changes in the communities it serves, The Progress Fund expanded its work in the region by implementing the Trail Town Program in 2007, and then expanded again in 2010 with its Real Estate Development Initiative.

The Progress Fund is unique in the economic development field in that it identified an unserved opportunity cluster of the tourism industry and then crafted a regional economic development strategy.

The success of this work has brought notoriety and numerous awards for community development impact.

Awards won by The Progress Fund Staff & Board

2021 Preservationist of the Year

We are honored to announce that our President & CEO, David A. Kahley, was named the “2021 Preservationist of the Year” by the Young Preservationist Association of Pittsburgh.  The announcement was part of the annual award program of the Young Preservationist Association (YPA) that was virtually released on December 21, 2021.  The announcement of the Preservationist of the Year begins at 2:45 minutes into the video.  The Awards program also includes YPA’s list of the “Top Ten Historic Preservation Opportunities” in the Pittsburgh Region.

Matthew Craig, Executive Director of YPA said, “With David at the helm along with a committed staff and Board of Directors, The Progress Fund has effectively used Historic Preservation to rebuild communities, most recently undertaking the total rehab of the historic Hazelwood Brewery in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh”.

2017 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award (F. Otto Haas Award)

The Progress Fund received the highest honors from Preservation Pennsylvania, the F. Otto Haas Award, for outstanding individual achievements in historic preservation. The award was presented at the 2017 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards ceremony at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, on October 12, 2017. Read more.

2015 Urban Land Institute Placemaking Award (Jury Award)

The Progress Fund and the community of West Newton were recognized at Urban Land Institute’s 3rd Annual Placemaking Awards for Excellence. A special Jury Award was given to The Progress Fund for its multiple investments in West Newton. This ongoing effort, known as Small Town Transformation: The West Newton Trailhead, received “special recognition, given the standout nature of the project among all nominations, which impressed the Jury beyond existing award categories”. Read more about the West Newton Story.

2014 State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) – Featured Loan

Our loan to Immersion Research was 1 of 10 loans featured in the SSBCI Report Summary of States’ 2014 Annual Report which covered $6.4 billion of lending made under the SSBCI Program in 50 states. See page 11 of the report. This wasn’t an award, but it’s nice to be noticed and represent 1 of the 12,400 small business loans made through the SSBCI Program.  We are proud that our loan was included in the 10 best examples of what the U.S. Treasury’s program was trying to support. Each featured loan represented 1,240 other loans. That’s pretty snazzy that we stood out from the crowd. Read more.

2014 Seton Hill University Entrepreneurial Excellence Award

Won by Karen Post of The Progress Fund for advocating for the growth and success of women-owned businesses and creatively promoting and supporting women to be valuable contributors to the Westmoreland County economy
Video highlights of the award (3 minutes):

2014 National Planning Achievement Award for Innovation in Economic Planning & Development from the American Planning Association

This award is shared with Allegheny Trail Alliance and Maryland Department of Planning for cooperative efforts to revitalize the Trail Towns along the Great Allegheny Passage.

2012 Keystone Society for Tourism Enterprise Award

Received by David Kahley and Karen Post for their outstanding contributions to tourism in Pennsylvania – the highest honor our state can confer on tourism leaders in Pennsylvania

2012 Financial Services Champion of the Year by the Small Business Administration

Received by our Board Member, David Miller

2011 NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance – $2.75 Million Awardee

Received by The Progress Fund for its tourism-focused lending approach which is well demonstrated by the Trail Town Program, an innovative initiative that The Progress Fund developed with the Allegheny Trail Alliance to capitalize upon the remarkable popularity of a regional bicycle trail called the Great Allegheny Passage
David Kahley’s Acceptance Speech at 2011 NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance (10 minutes):

2011 Clarion County Economic Development Corporation Resource Partner of the Year

Awarded for the loans and technical assistance we provided to Clarion County businesses

2007 Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County Award

Awarded for the Trail Town Program

March 2003 Dominion Community Impact Award

Awarded for positively impacting the economic and social climate of our community


Awards won by our Borrowers

2017 Carnegie Medal Hero

Eric Martin, Wilderness Voyageur Outfitters

2013 Pennsylvania state Foodservice Beef/Veal Backer Award winner

Jean Bonnet Tavern – Family owned and operated since 1999, the restaurant works to creatively promote beef and veal. Wiener Schnitzel breaded veal and beef tenderloin medallions have become recent favorites on the menu. Cutting and dry aging steaks in house ensures top quality and freshness for Jean Bonnet Tavern patrons.

2013 “A” grade for consumer satisfaction in GuestRated™ satisfaction survey of RV parks and campgrounds

River’s Edge Camping and Cabins was one of 32 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the country to earn an all around “A” grade for consumer satisfaction in the annual GuestRated™ satisfaction survey of RV parks and campgrounds in 2013 for the second year in a row.

June 4, 2013 Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka Ranked Top Vodka of 120 Best Spirits in the World According to The Spirit Journal.

Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries

February 19, 2013 Boyd & Blair Wins Good Food Award Sponsored by Whole Foods and Williams & Sonoma.

Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries

2013 Laurel Highlands Tourism Award – Tourism Entrepreneur

Judy Pletcher, Rockwood Mill Shoppes and Opera House

2012 Laurel Highlands Tourism Award – Tourism Trailblazer

Eric Martin, Wilderness Voyageurs

2012 Laurel Highlands Tourism Award – Tourism Entrepreneur

Brad and Maureen Smith, Confluence Cyclery

2012 Westmoreland County Community College Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality Hall of Fame Inductee

Lenora Palonder, chef and owner of The Inn at Lenora’s

June 2012 Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka Ranked Top Vodka in the World for the second year in a row! The Spirit Journal June 2011

Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries

2012 “A” grade for consumer satisfaction in GuestRated™ satisfaction survey of RV parks and campgrounds

River’s Edge Camping and Cabins, was one of only 42 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the country to earn an all around “A” grade in the annual GuestRated™ satisfaction survey of independent parks for the year 2012.