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Pokemon craze gets people on the go across Greater Cincinnati

Health fads are nothing new, but Pokemon Go is taking it to an entirely new level by generating innovative ways to get people moving, including plenty of Greater Cincinnati options.

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

Last year a number of Greater Cincinnati startup companies used Kickstarter to launch or expand product offerings, including Victor Athletics, The Paractive Project and several food & drink concepts.

SCORE provides free business mentoring, names Clients of the Year

SCORE's Cincinnati chapter recently named Pianimals, The Yoga Bar, Spicy Olive and Spun Bicycles as Clients of the Year from among the 700 local small businesses and entrepreneurs it aided in the last year with free mentorship.

UC grad designs fall fashion collection

Mallory Muddiman's new designs include clothing, bags and accessories.

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 state of stability.

Red Hawk Technologies continues growth in Newport

Located in Newport, KY, Red Hawk Technologies has thrived despite its genesis in the midst of a down economy. The company will be recognized by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce as an Emerging 30 Company for the second year in a row.

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

Two Health IT companies setting up HQs in Newport, creating 20 new jobs

Two health IT companies - one from Korea - are setting up North American HQs in Newport, creating a combined 20 new jobs in the process.

The companies - Korean-based Arcron Systems Inc. and Meaningful Use Technologies,  are moving into a 5,000 sq. ft. shared space with plans to invest $1 million in office upgrades. The companies are still working to find the most compatible space.

"There is incredible opportunity in the healthcare industry and we know that Northern Kentucky - Newport, Kentucky - is strategically positioned to support the national headquarters for both companies," said Mark Morgan, chief executive officer of Meaningful Use Technologies.

Arcron Systems specializes in medical IT technology, such as hospital information systems, electronic medical records, order communication systems, and enterprise resource planning systems for hospitals of all sizes. Meaningful Use Technologies also serves the healthcare sector, specializing in enterprise IT experience and providing software specification, deployment and hosting services to hospitals.

The companies are positioning themselves to help hospitals comply with a component of the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act stimulus bill, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This requires that patients' medical records be transferred to an electronic format by 2015.

"We know that high-tech companies like Arcron Systems and Meaningful Use Technologies will create high-paid, primary industry jobs for our residents. The presence of Northern Kentucky University's College of Informatics will help supply qualified, cutting- edge employees for these outstanding companies," said Campbell County Judge Executive and Northern Kentucky Tri-ED Chairman Steve Pendery.

Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Kentucky Governor's office

You can follow Feoshia on Twitter @feoshiawrites
40 Newport Articles | Page: | Show All
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