We just have a really good relationship with The Progress Fund and Enterprise Bank. We have two really good financial partners. We’re working toward the same goals. Why rock a boat that’s on a very good course?
“Building a new climbing facility is not easy,” says Alex Bernstein. But the view from the top is awesome. Alex and two co-founders opened the bouldering gym ASCEND Pittsburgh in 2017, and within two years tallied 315,000 customer visits – far above projections. As ASCEND planned a second location, a shortcut opened up. The owners of Transcend Bouldering Lounge, near Youngstown, offered to sell. ASCEND’s team trekked to Transcend, and found it was “way up there in terms of craftsmanship and materials,” says Alex. “The stars aligned on many levels.”
From experience, ASCEND knew where to go for funding, back to the lenders of their first location. The two small business lenders, The Progress Fund and Enterprise Bank, each loaned $244,000.
The financing allows Alex and his team to buy Transcend, and add a store and air conditioning to the gym now known as ASCEND Youngstown. They plan to add fitness and training areas, a yoga studio, youth space and showers. ASCEND members now visit both gyms, and the connection brings Ohioans into Pittsburgh’s community of indoor and outdoor climbers. Youngstown, says Alex, gets new visitors, added jobs at the gym, and something less tangible. “We think that climbing really is a very positive activity, both mentally and physically,” he says. “Similar to other physical activities, climbing can have an awesome impact on a community.”
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