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Internationally recognized NKY Makerspace to host World Maker & Inventor Expo

On April 29, Northern Kentucky Makerspace will host its second annual World Maker & Inventor Expo at Boone County High School. The family-friendly event is designed to celebrate emerging technology and help engage students in STEAM subjects from an early age.

“We know students are losing interest in these fields as they progress through their education,” says spokesperson Emily Greene. “By connecting them to real-world experts, and providing authentic experiences, we are fostering the interest and providing the educational opportunities for growth during each stage of primary and secondary education.”

The daylong expo will feature workshops and competitions that highlight innovations in robotics, 3D printing, drones, aerospace, coding, micro-computing, graphic design and more.

In addition, visitors will enjoy local food, outlaw derby races, drone-flying obstacle courses, a “live” BB-8 robot, Star Wars-themed rides and a solar-powered telescope demonstration by the Cincinnati Observatory.

To learn more or to register for the expo, visit themakerexpo.com.

NKY Makerspace is a regional program serving K-12 students in Greater Cincinnati through field trips, workshops, internships, events and other hands-on activities.

The program is made possible through a partnership between Leadership NKY and Boone County Schools, with support from sponsors like the NKY Chamber of Commerce and Perfetti Van Melle, a locally based confectionery manufacturer.

The program was created in response to the growing national dependence on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM) disciplines that are projected to make up about 80 percent of the fastest growing occupations in the coming years.

NKY Makerspace shares with its sponsors a mission of creating an academic environment to encourage “the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to think, create and build.”

The group’s facility at Boone County Fairgrounds currently features dedicated spaces for students learning about engineering, robotics, coding, 3D printing and audio-visual production. Northern Kentucky high schools can apply for credit-bearing internships through NKY Makerspace and its affiliate partners.

“The nature of our building, being owned and operated by Boone County Schools but located as an independent facility open to the entire region, makes us an incredibly unique facility and the first of its kind here in Kentucky,” Greene says.

For that reason, NKY Makerspace has received attention from the U.S. State Department and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, regularly hosting international delegations from those groups and guiding them through the makerspace’s STEAM-focused facilities.

“Generally speaking, these groups are coming to learn from our program to in turn build their own programs in their home countries,” Greene says. “Most times, our visitors leave us with wonderful insight and ideas for growth here in our own facility as well, building an invaluable international partnership.”

Pokemon craze gets people on the go across Greater Cincinnati

Health fads are nothing new, but Pokemon Go is taking the craze to an entirely new level by generating innovative ways to get people moving.
Pokemon Go debuted in the U.S. on July 7, and since then the app has been downloaded more times than Tinder. The augmented reality game encourages users to walk around and “catch” Pokemon that are living or hiding in real stores, parks, historic sites, museums and other public buildings.
In Cincinnati, Pokemon are showing up at the Cincinnati Zoo, bars and restaurants in Over-the-Rhine and Great American Ballpark. Pokemon Go events have already been planned for Jungle Jim’s Fairfield and Washington Park.
Articles touting the health benefits of Pokemon Go have been featured on a range of media outlets, including Huffington Post and Washington Post.
Cincinnati is already the fourth healthiest city in the U.S., so lucky for Tristate residents there are already a number of local tools that could help Pokemon Go users find the elusive and rare beasts.
Dan Korman and Katie Meyer’s book Walking Cincinnati offers walking routes in 32 neighborhoods that are no doubt home to many Pokemon.
Downtown walkers can also take advantage of the Go Vibrant walking paths to find urban Pokemon. Outlying Pokemon might be found in some of the region’s great parks; Cincinnati was ranked as having the seventh best park system in the country after all.
The arts-inclined pedestrians might catch Pokemon near the 100-plus ArtWorks murals, and those who are inclined can climb some of the city’s hillside stairways in search of Pokemon, cardio and burning thighs.
Physi app users might find Pokemon near their sports fields or play dates, and soon there may even be a Pokemon Go activity or event.
Users of wearable health tracker like Fitbit or iWatch will see their points increase, particularly if they’re integrated with local health startups like SparkPeople or Strap, although it remains to be seen if Pokemon Go will be woven into fitness engagement challenges.
Across the river Live Well NKY is promoting a diverse assortment of activities to encourage health and fitness, and perhaps some Pokemon may live nearby as well.
Area Pokemon Go players have no shortage of places to explore to capture Pokemon, earn points and burn some calories.

Kickstarter campaigns helped many (but not all) local startups in 2015

Last year several Cincinnati startup companies used Kickstarter to launch or expand product offerings with varying degrees of success, including several Greater Cincinnati food companies that exceeded their fundraising goals.

For urban mushroom farmer Alan Susarret, Kickstarter offered a way to increase production at Probasco Farms while supporting a community building project, Cincinnati Food Not Bombs. Susarret reached his Kickstarter goal in just over a week, raising more than double his target with 47 backers pledging $1,896.
A larger gourmet Kickstarter project involved Newport’s Carabello Coffee, looking to fund the remodeling and expansion of their facility. They exceeded their goal with 269 backers pledging $42,155.

Local foodie favorite Skinny Pig Kombucha leveraged Kickstarter to expand its brewing and bottling capacity. The campaign was selected as a Staff Pick by Kickstarter, and 139 backers pledged $10,800 to surpass the project goal.

“Kickstarter was a great way to build excitement about our product and help educate people on what we're trying to do,” says owner Algis Aukstuolis. “We ended up building a new brewing facility in South Fairmount in the former Lunkenheimer valve factory. This unforeseen change gave us a lot of delays, but we were finally able to start production in November. To help us grow, we’re working with Stagnaro distributors locally and will try to get into some more large retailers.”
Two Cincinnati-based clothing manufacturers also did well with Kickstarter campaigns to launch new production facilities and product lines.
Drew Oxley’s social enterprise company The Parative Project produces bags, T-shirts and flags with messages that raise awareness of human trafficking. Its successful summer Kickstarter campaign has allowed Oxley to partner with Freeset and The Aruna Project to move its production to India, where Parative will employ women rescued from human trafficking. The Parative Kickstarter campaign exceeded its goal with 305 backers pledging $23,022.

“We're currently working on a new website that will sell the goods made by the women of India,” Oxley says. “We have several new shirts and flags we’re excited to release. The site will also host a blog sharing practical ways for others to take action against social injustices.”
Another Kickstarter Staff Pick was the campaign to launch Victor Athletics, a new clothing line by Noble Denim to be made in Tennessee from organic materials. Their ambitious $100,000 goal was exceeded by $23,002 and supported by 1,166 backers, allowing Noble Denim and Victor Athletics to open a brick-and-mortar store in Over-the-Rhine. While working to ensure the store is a success, Victor Athletics has plans to expand in 2016.

“Based on the feedback from Kickstarter and our first season of sales for Victor, we'll hone in our fits and add a few new styles for Spring,” says co-founder Abby Sutton. “We want to aggressively grow our online sales in 2016 to continue to hire more sewers back and slowly tip the scales toward U.S. manufacturing.”
Unfortunately, not all of the local Kickstarter product launches were successful in 2015. Nutty Jar, a treat dispenser created by Cincinnati-based dog toy company Zigoo, cancelled its spring Kickstarter campaign. Education and hand-writing tool Grip Wizard fell short of its Kickstarter goal to launch large-scale manufacturing in Forest Park.
For those considering using Kickstarter in 2016, some of the 2015 campaign alumni have advice to offer.
“My wife and I were in Kickstarter mode 24/7, constantly showing our campaign to bloggers, networking with local groups and pushing on social media,” Oxley says. In hindsight, “I might have done more pop-up events as there was definitely more traction when people came across the campaign in person.”
“Kickstarter Campaigns are such a vulnerable experience because success is rarely measured so publicly,” Sutton says.
As their campaign launched, Noble Denim/Victor Athletics also faced technology issues with the Kickstarter platform that presented challenges for fulfillment and communication with campaign supporters. Although they were able to solve the problem through a third-party platform, Sutton and husband Chris took special care to acknowledge the campaign backers.
“We recognize that Kickstarter backers have a very unique relationship with the company because they get a different experience than a normal customer,” Sutton says. “To honor this, we gave our backers a discount code for life as a ‘thank you’ for their unique role in launching Victor. They deserve a price break forever for their faith in us, their patience and their ongoing support of the ethic of the company.”

SCORE provides free business mentoring, names Clients of the Year

The Cincinnati chapter of SCORE recently named Pianimals, The Yoga Bar, Spicy Olive and Spun Bicycles as Clients of the Year. They were just a few of the over 700 local small businesses and entrepreneurs aided in the last year by free mentorship and counseling from Greater Cincinnati SCORE, the volunteer branch of the Small Business Association, and its 90-plus volunteers.
The volunteers are working or retired executives and professional managers who choose to spend time helping and advising startups and small businesses in business operations, marketing and finance. Those mentors are the ones who nominate their advisees as Clients of the Year.
For one of those clients, the mentorship had a special extra dimension. Judi LoPresti of Spun Bicycles is the daughter of longtime SCORE member and mentor Ed Rothenberg.
When her father passed away in 2012 and left her some money, she and her husband decided to follow their passion and use the inheritance to open a bicycle shop in Northside. Judi and Dominic LoPresti went straight to SCORE for advice and mentorship.
If her father were still around, LoPresti might go to him for advice, but since he’s not she has her SCORE mentor, Carlin Stamm, instead. That relationship has served the LoPrestis well.
“They’ve been profitable every year since they opened (in 2013),” SCORE Executive Director Betsy Newman says of Spun Bicycles. “I think the key for them, and it goes for all clients, is that they’re very passionate.”
That also goes for one of the other Clients of the Year, Rachel Roberts of The Yoga Bar, who traveled the world studying yoga before coming back in her home town of Cincinnati to open a studio. Roberts has a team of three SCORE mentors — Hugh Dayton, Mike Crossen and Stamm — that helped her guide her business through a move from her original downtown location to studios in Over-the-Rhine and Newport, with possible expansion still to come.
Newman says that SCORE mentorship allows clients to be more comfortable with the nuts and blots of running their business and focus more on the parts they do best. Of course, one of the huge advantages of SCORE services is that almost all of them — from individual mentorship to group counseling to online resources — are offered free of charge.
“Our goal is to help them start up or grow their business,” Newman says. “We want to make sure no one is unable to compete because they can’t afford mentorship. When you’re starting a business, the last thing you want to do is spend money you don’t have to.”
SCORE volunteers know that well. Most are veteran or retired executives with years or decades of experience in business, marketing, accounting and related fields. Newman, who has worked as a career development consultant, explains that volunteering their time and wisdom with SCORE allows mentors to remain connected to what’s going on in their fields and communities.
“No one ever really retires,” she says. “You just find a new avenue for your skills.”
The avenue of SCORE mentorship certainly puts those skills to use.
“I’ve never heard of one Client of the Year that hasn’t given all the credit to the SCORE mentor,” Newman says. “Some of these mentorships have lasted over 10 years. The business is well launched, but the relationship continues.”

UC grad designs fall fashion collection

A graduate from UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) released a fall fashion collection that includes clothing, bags and accessories.
Mallory Muddiman, who opened Shop Mallory a month after graduating from DAAP, designed the line with her mother, who joined shortly after Muddiman began. They handcraft all of their work in their Newport studio.
"As a designer, I fall in love with each collection we create a little bit more than the one before," Muddiman says. "The goal is to create something different and more exciting each season."
During the design process, Muddiman begins with one or two pieces, using it as inspiration to base the rest of the line.
"This fall season I started with lipstick as this beginning inspiration," Muddiman says. "From there my mom and I begin sketching out ideas for motifs and garments. We sketch over and over again until we like it as a whole. Simultaneously we source materials and notions to make sure we have everything we need to make the pieces we want to make."  
After conceptualization, they shift their focus to a collection's more tangible elements.
"After that we create flat patterns, make mock-ups, do fittings, make prototypes and then finally start production," Muddiman says. "Things are very fluid and flexible in this process. We do our best to keep open minds the whole time."
Muddiman plans to use the fall collection as a means to increase future production and eventually offer her designs through other retailers.
"Our goal [is] to sell enough of this collection to be able to have our spring '15 collection made in an American factory," Muddiman says. "This is our next big step."

Financial Opportunity Center offers new model for social service in Cincinnati

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s leading community-development support organization, has developed a new model to help struggling individuals and family progress to a state of stability. The program is called the Financial Opportunity Center, and LISC has partnered with several area organizations, most of them with a specific neighborhood focus, to implement the model in and around Cincinnati.
While traditional social service organizations and models have revolved around simply helping neighborhood residents secure employment, Kristen Baker, Program Officer at LISC of Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky, says that a new paradigm is needed.
“A few years ago, just around the time of the economic downturn, the United Way had a one-day summit around the theme of financial stability,” Baker remembers. “One of the ideas that came from it was that people felt like the organizations in their communities weren’t doing enough, that a more multifaceted approach was needed to help people move up the economic ladder.”
The search for such an approach led LISC to apply for, and eventually receive, a grant from the Social Innovation Fund to develop what became their Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) model.
“The FOC is based on best practices from the Annie E. Casey Foundation centers for working families and includes three types of training for clients: employment placement and career improvement; financial education and coaching; and public benefits access,” Baker says.

Thus far, LISC has used the grant to institute FOCs at Cincinnati Works, the Brighton Center (in Newport, Ky.), the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati (in Avondale) and Santa Maria Community Services (in Price Hill).
From January to September of 2013, the four Greater Cincinnati Financial Opportunity Centers helped more than 480 individuals be placed in jobs, 150 people retain employment for one year, 78 individuals improve their credit score, 130 people improve their monthly net income and 66 people improve their net worth.
“The sentiment used to be that if we could just get people a job, they’d be able to advance,” Baker says. “Especially after the recession, we’ve seen that there are many other issues that have snowballed together. This model is about a long-term relationship with our clients and their communities—it’s about working with people after the initial crisis of being unemployed and developing new and positive habits for the clients.” 

By Mike Sarason

Red Hawk Technologies continues growth in Newport

For many, 2008 was a year of downturn and downsizing. For Matt Strippelhoff and Ron Dunlevy, it was a year of new beginnings and growth. In 2008, the two partners, who have now been working together for more than a decade, founded Red Hawk Technologies, which produces sophisticated applications, websites and mobile applications for a variety of B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) clientele.
Located in Newport, KY, Red Hawk has thrived despite its genesis in the midst of a down economy. Last year, the company was recognized by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce as an Emerging 30 Company. And Red Hawk was recently notified that it will be recognized among the Emerging 30 again this year.
“I believe we can attribute our success to our dedication to client service,” Strippelhoff says. “We take care of our clients’ businesses as if they were our own; our client retention rates are exceptional.”
Much of Red Hawk’s work is comprised of websites and mobile applications designed to support custom workflows, supporting clients’ sales and service needs. “A lot of the work is done behind the scenes, creating entire portals designed to support specific business interactions with client teams, third-party service providers and applications,” Strippelhoff says.
Comb through Red Hawk’s client list and you’ll find some impressive names like Procter & Gamble, Empower Media Marketing, The Kroger Co. and The Ohio State University. “One of my favorite projects we’ve worked on is the viewbook application we created for the Ohio State University,” Strippelhoff says.
“The Ohio State University is saving a lot of money with regard to printing and mailing costs, and prospective students are getting the immediate gratification they’re seeking via a custom PDF viewbook. It’s a great example of making things easier for the end user while also benefiting the client.”
As technology continues to change at a growing rate, companies like Red Hawk must remain nimble and able not only to meet clients’ needs, but also to innovate. Mobile technology in particular is where much of the growth is happening.
“We’re excited about developing more mobile application for our clients. I don’t think there’s any question that we’ll continue to grow in the next year," Strippelhoff says.

By Michael Sarason

Metro now offers stored-value cards to riders

Many city-dwellers are continuously faced with the arduous task of budgeting their quarters between two priorities: bus fare and laundromats. While both woes can be remedied with a little planning, some people are forever caught in the cycle of rifling through their pockets at a moment’s notice to either catch the bus or feed the washing machine. But Cincinnatians have been presented with a new method of relieving these tribulations with the new Metro stored-value cards.

The cards can be purchased in prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 from Metro’s sales office. They work just like cash in any bus-related payment situations, including transfers and multiple riders. Metro’s stored-value cards are replacing the 10-ride Zone 1 tickets, although those will be honored until the end of 2013.

For those familiar with bus fare rates and simple mathematics, however, things don’t quite add up: with normal inner-city fares set at $1.75, the prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 won’t deduct even portions, leaving some untouchable funds on the cards, as they are incapable of being recharged with additional cash. If your card’s balance cannot pay the full fare, the difference can be paid in cash or with an additional stored-value card when paying at the front of the bus.

While it might be possible to budget your stored-value card so as not to have any residual funds before it is redeemed, this discernible anomaly might prove problematic for local bus riders who might be better off with the 30-day rolling pass, which is good for unlimited travel in a zone of your choice for a 30-day period.

The new stored-value cards are available for purchase at Metro’s sales office, which is located in the Mercantile Building arcade downtown, weekdays 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

By Sean Peters

The Happy Maladies want YOU to write their next album

The Happy Maladies has issued an open invitation for composers of all levels to submit original pieces of music for the band to interpret.

The project is titled “MUST LOVE CATS,” and it will be an album of five compositions. The tunes will be featured not only on a professional studio-produced album, but in performances across the Midwest (including Cincinnati). A booklet will also be made, which will profile each of the five selected composers.

“We’ll be accepting any kind of composition until January 1, 2014,” says violinist and vocalist Eddy Kwon in the band’s recently released YouTube video that officially kicked off the exciting new endeavor.

The band, which is comprised of founding members Benjamin Thomas, Peter Gemus, Stephen Patota and Kwon, utilizes the violin, double-bass, guitars, mandolin and banjo.

“We really don’t want composers to try to ‘fit’ our sound, or limit themselves to what they think these instruments sound like,” says Kwon. “We’re really willing to do anything.”

Jazzy, folksy and classically trained, the unique group is hard to classify, but infinitely easy and enjoyable to hear. In the band’s five-year career, they have explored so many genres that they’ve developed an omnipotent musical identity.

“All of us are really, really supportive and advocates for new music,” says Kwon. “We are hoping this project can be a new model for the way composers and bands and performers interact and work together.” 

By Sean Peters

CincyMusic Spotlight hits airwaves

CincyMusic Spotlight is a new radio show dedicated to highlighting new and exciting music in the Queen City. Featured on The Project 100.7 and 106.3, the show’s format provides a much-needed outlet for local musicians. Hosted by veteran band promoters and DJs Venomous Valdez and Joe Long, the show’s end goal is to help expose new local artists to the general public.

“The Project already has added a handful of bands hailing from Cincinnati in their established playlist," says Valdez. "If a song does really well on the show, it has the ability to live in regular rotation. The Project would love nothing more than to help break a Cincinnati band."

Valdez, who is known by just about every venue owner as the booking agent and promoter for Wussy and The Sundresses, is a longtime ally to Cincinnati musicians.

“Cincinnati has a deep, rich musical history," she says. "For many generations, this has been a music town, so it’s in our blood. We have more genres available, more venues catering to original music than most cities larger than us. Overall, I think we have a great support system with musicians, promoters, booking agents and venues that encourages and nurtures the creative outlet."

Listeners can tune in Sunday nights at midnight on The Project 100.7 FM and 106.3 FM. Podcasts will be available on cincymusic.com and cincinnatiproject.com.

By Sean Peters

Spotted Yeti Media captures the best on film

What comes to mind when you see the name Spotted Yeti? Is it a purple polka dot Sasquatch?

While that’s not quite the direction Molly Berrens, CEO of Spotted Yeti Media, had in mind, you wouldn’t be alone in that misconception.

“It’s a play on words,” Berrens says. She says the idea came from a Mitch Hedberg joke that claims Bigfoot is naturally blurry, so it’s not the cameraman’s fault that the image isn't in focus. While Berrens didn’t immediately embrace the name, she came to appreciate its double meaning and is proud to work under the banner.

Spotted Yeti is a video production studio based in Newport. Their expertise lies in short-form videos that are intended mainly for the web and live events, with a client list based in the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

Their offered services include documentaries, company overviews, client testimonials, green screen productions, animations, video blogs (or "vlogs") and instructional/training videos—but they have the capacity to handle many projects beyond those already offered. To stay appealing for most web users, the videos are typically no longer than four minutes.

Most of Spotted Yeti's featured videos showcase its clients’ personalities, which makes the work it provides a great way to represent businesses and charities.

If you're interested in what Spotted Yeti does, it offers qualified students internships where they can hone their craft in a professional studio.

“Not many people have ‘spotted’ a yeti,” Berrens said. “Our company motto is ‘Show the world you exist’ so you can bring a big idea into focus.”

By Sean Peters

Simple Portrait Project captures personalities in 30-minute sessions

Commercial photographer Jonathan Robert Willis shares an almost stereotypical weakness with some fellow creatives: he hates artificial deadlines.

“I’m really good with hard, fast, we-need-it-yesterday commercial deadlines,” he says, describing the focus of his self-named photography business. When friends and family nagged him for photos, he launched The Simple Portrait Project, which mixes the speed of commercial work with traditional group portraits.

In sessions held once or twice a year, Willis gathers dozens of families or small groups, shooting each in the same space with the same prop. He spends just 30 minutes on each family from start to finish. “It’s great because it’s just enough time to get the best out of the kids before they melt down, and it’s short enough for the dad, who doesn’t want to be there to begin with in many cases,” Willis says.

That means that the family comes in and is posed, photographed and advised about prints, all in a half hour. For the last few minutes, Willis turns a critical eye to each set of photographs, helping subjects select a handful of the best photographs.  Still, he compares the sessions to a marathon, admitting: “It’s literally nonstop from about 9 am until 8:30 pm. I’m a little intimidated by it.” 

The project turns the angsty hair-pulling of traditional family photography on its head and, as it happens, yields eye-catching photos. The families don’t look like they're from a J.Crew catalog, but they don’t look scruffy, either. Not everyone beams, and not everyone is even looking at the camera; Willis says his goal is comfortable, natural poses.

There’s one simple rule for participants: no matching clothes. “I can’t think of a single image where I’ve seen everybody in the same sweater where I’m like, ‘Wow, that was a great idea,’” Willis says. “You have to trust that I’m going to make something great, but you’ve also got to do your part, which is following that rule.”

Willis’ final session for the project in 2012 is Saturday, Dec. 8, with the potential for Sunday sessions depending on demand. He hopes to schedule the first session of 2013 around Easter.

By Robin Donovan

NKY Community Action Commission 'Rekindles' micro-enterprise development

By its very definition, entrepreneurship involves personal and financial risk. But it doesn't take millions to make every entrepreneurs' self-employment dreams come true.

An emerging program of the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission (NKCAC) aims to support entrepreneurship and small business ownership: the Rekindle Micro-Enterprise Development Program.

NKCAC supports micro-enterprise -- generally a business with five or fewer employees -- by offering technical, financial, marketing and other resources to Northern Kentuckians who want to create their own economic opportunities.

"We started the program about a year ago, with a focus on low-income people," says Robert Yoder, NKYAC Micro-Enterprise/Small Business Development project director. "This is a place where they can test their ideas, understand what it means to run a business and see the challenges they could face ahead of time."

The program is free for those who meet income eligibility requirements, with a $35 material fee for others. After an assessment, applicants go through a six-week business development course that includes training in entrepreneurship skills, obtaining financing, learning about accounting and tax issues, financial literacy and marketing and writing a business plan.

Program graduates can apply for $5,000 in low-interest loans to start or expand their businesses. Potentially, grads can access up to $500,000 in financing though Rekindle financing partners.

The program has worked with new and existing businesses, Yoder says. He mentions the success story of barber Devin Pinkelton, who came through the program after first cutting hair in his home, then moving to a 10-foot by 12-foot space that held a single barber chair.

"We worked with Devin to update his business plan, develop cash flow projections and provided advice on site selection for his new location that had excellent visibility and parking. Once everything was in place, Devin applied for $5,000 from the Rekindle Micro-Enterprise Revolving Loan Fund to remodel and purchase fixtures for the barber shop," Yoder says.

In June, Pinkelton opened a three-chair shop in Florence.

"His new location has much better visibility and his business is really growing," Yoder says.

New Covington eatery WhackBurger, fast becoming a local favorite, is also a Rekindle graduate, Yoder adds.

The next class starts Aug. 16. Find out more at the Rekindle website.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter.

CitiLogics, selected by UpTech, grows, adds partner

CitiLogics is growing, along with its software designed to help city governments and public utilities better manage water infrastructure. Founders Jim Uber and Stu Hooper have added a third partner, and CitiLogics is one of eight companies picked for Northern Kentucky's inaugural UpTech accelerator program.

CitiLogics is working on a modern solution to a modern urban challenge. The company's Polaris is a real-time forecasting platform that uses existing water management data to help utilities better control their water distribution systems.

The software will allow utilities to better pinpoint leak sources, and improve water quality in the distribution system, among other things. It will also forecast how a particular part of the infrastructure would hold up in an emergency or a heavy use period. The software then allows departments to share that information easily.

"We've been focusing on software development and fundraising, and we're excited to get started with UpTech," says Uber, an environmental engineer. "We've been working with our utility partners to prove the business case for our software."

Sam Hatchett, a mechanical and environmental engineer, decided to join the company as a partner because he believes in the work and is looking for a challenge.

"I know myself and my character," Hatchett says. "I was not going to fit into a large corporate environment."

The company, founded in 2009, will be moving from the Hamilton incubation County Business Center, to offices in Newport as part of the UpTech program.

UpTech is a new business informatics incubator launched by several Northern Kentucky institutions, including Northern Kentucky University, Tri-Ed, ezone and Vision 2015. It's an intense, six-month accelerator program that includes $100,000 in funding. Companies selected to participate will also be working with students and faculty at NKU's College of Informatics.

The company is meeting with municipalities for potential early sales, and the software is being tested through a pilot at the Northern Kentucky Water District.

The company believes UpTech will be a springboard to increased financing and more software development.

"There is a lot of open space in the area of business analytics in the water utility industry, and we want to fill that space in a valuable way," Uber says. "We definitely don't plan on being the Stu, Sam and Jim show forever. We plan to take this across the county and across the world."

By Feoshia Henderson
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

NKU first school in nation to place free cell-charging kiosks

Students at Northern Kentucky University no longer have to worry about running out of juice before they run out of class. This fall, NKU became as the first college in the nation to install free cell-phone charging stations on campus.

The initial 17 goCharge kiosks get plenty of action already, and senior network manager Bob Weber has already fielded requests for 12 more that he hopes to add in the next few months. With the capacity to charge all cell phones, tablets and mp3 players, the goCharge stations make it easy for students to stay connected while they stay on campus and do the work they need.

Already popular in airports, bars and even casinos, free charging stations for electronic devices seem like a natural fit for cell-phone-toting college students who often spend long hours on campus.

“There has been an overwhelming response from students and staff who have taken advantage of this free benefit,” according to Weber.

By Elissa Yancey
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