South Side Traveler's Rest
They streamline the whole process, but even more so, they’ve developed a process by which they can help us beyond just a loan.
Mary Beth Karabinos and Paul Kletter would rather crash in a bunk than blow their adventure money on hotels. But when they toured the West Coast in 2013, the couple “had a really hard time finding hostels, and when we did find a hostel, they were almost always entirely booked,” says Paul. Back home in Pittsburgh? No hostels, period. There was an empty 7,490-square-foot building on the South Side, by the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. So they bought it.
They asked banks and a public agency to fund construction of a 32-bed hostel in the building. “They just wanted everything short of my left kidney as a deposit,” says Mary Beth. The University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center steered them to The Progress Fund, which loaned $165,000 – no organs required.
The A.M. Byers Building, constructed in 1883, used to house the offices of an iron company. Now steel, aluminum and carbon bicycles pull off the trail from Washington, D.C., into its carefully restored brick-and-cherry-wood confines. Relying on The Progress Fund’s Trail Town Program, Mary Beth and Paul get intel on approaching cycling groups and offer them a win-win deal. “If you’re paying $40 for a bunk bed,” Mary Beth notes, “you might have money to spend on the South Side and contribute to our local economy.”
The Progress Fund is an equal opportunity provider and employer.