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Roadtrippers rolls out new embeddable maps

Roadtrippers, the Cincinnati-based startup that helps users discover, plan and book road trips customized to their own individual preferences, now has embeddable maps so that users can display a road trip on their own blog or website.
 
“Now the trips, bucket lists and places that users can create on our site don’t just have to live on Roadtrippers; they can live on other digital properties, which is really exciting,” says Chelsea Koglmeier, Operations Manager for Roadtrippers. “If you go on a trip and you’re blogging about it, you can display your trip right there. People can see where you stopped and interact with the places. If someone want to re-create the trip, they just have to click on the box and it takes them over to the Roadtrippers main site, where they can customize the map and use it for their own adventure.”
 
The embeddable maps function is as simple as logging on to Roadtrippers.com, creating a trip, clicking the “share trip” button, and choosing the proper dimensions for your site. Roadtrippers has also increased the maximum waypoints on a trip from 25 to 40, which is four times the Google Maps limit.
 
“An interesting facet is that we initially rolled this technology out for a website called theonering.net,” Koglmeier says. “They were taking a road trip to a comic book convention and really wanted an embeddable map to document their trip, so we rolled it out really quick for them. It was bare bones, but since then, people just love it. They keep asking for it and asking for it.”
 
After starting with the stripped down version, the Roadtrippers team worked long and hard to make the maps simple and easy to use. But the team has much further to go; up on the wall in their Over-the-Rhine office is a list of all of their 2013 and 2014 product goals, many of which have yet to be rolled out.
 
“The maps are just one piece of a bigger puzzle. A huge part of the travel offseason is that we continue to grow and people continue to be excited about our startup, even though it’s not travel season," Koglmeier says. "With the maps, it’s putting our brand in front of more eyes. Each time you post one on your site, it’s putting us in front of new people.”

By Mike Sarason

Max Training Program finds new method to address job market gap

MAX Technical Training, the Cincinnati-based IT training company, launched its new Java Developer Apprenticeship program, aiming to address employment and talent issues in the region.
 
The program, created by MAX founder Denise Bartick, is an innovative approach to retraining unemployed or underemployed people and addresses two interrelated business/economic/job sector issues: primarily, the issue of the rising number of trained professionals unable to find jobs in their field, and the simultaneous rise in unfilled demand for trained IT professionals due to a lack of talent.
 
“In recent years, our clients, who are mainly Fortune 1000 companies, have been saying, ‘We need more IT people, we need more software developers,’ but not many people have thought to look within for these positions,” Bartick says. “In many cases, companies are just poaching from each other out of the same, limited talent pool.”
 
Bartick’s program can handle everything from recruiting, assessing and selecting candidates to training them and, ultimately, placing them into new IT careers. Students in the program are trained to use JAVA, HTML, .NET and CSS, and are taught several other important skills in order to increase their marketability. Last year, MAX worked with Great American Insurance Group to successfully train and transition 10 people into JAVA Developer roles.
 
“MAX Technical Training’s approach to sourcing new IT Developer talent has been a huge success for us,” says Piyush Singh, VP and CIO at Great American Insurance Group, Property & Casualty Information Technology. “Recruiting JAVA developers has been a challenge for us over the past five years, and we were facing the same recruiting challenges as our peers in our industry. We needed something different and long-term. Collaborating with MAX to strengthen our team of JAVA developers has proven to be a rewarding investment.”
 
So far, the training program has been rolled out on a small scale; two classes of students have graduated the program as either .NET or JAVA developers and Bartick is opening the door for businesses looking to fill similar needs.
 
“We’re looking for creative, open-minded businesses and individuals,” Bartick says. “This is the right thing to do. We’ve got to invest in our region and our economy now.

By Mike Sarason

If you're looking for an IT job, check out Soapbox Media's Jobs Available section.

German company Forcam brings best in class manufacturing expertise to Cincinnati

FORCAM, the technology and consulting company based in Friedrichshafen, Germany, has continued growing internationally and, more specifically, here in the United States, where its offices are located in downtown Cincinnati.
 
Founded in 2001 by former SAP managers (another massive German-based software company), FORCAM creates MES (Manufacturing Execution System) solutions for clients like Audi, BMW, Daimler, MTU Aero Engines and more. More practically speaking, the technology they develop helps create more transparent manufacturing plants, giving their clients more reliable data on performance measurement of their machines, maintenance needs and more.
 
Just over a decade after their inception, in the summer of 2012, FORCAM decided to establish a United States branch of the company in Cincinnati. As its business in the states grew more extensive, the company found it necessary make the move. CEO Franz Gruber’s partnership with Jay Lee, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Material Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, proved crucial in FORCAM’s decision for where to locate.
 
“Although we are new to the U.S., we are growing fast,” says Julia Brochheuser, Marketing Manager for FORCAM. “We have 21 employees here at the moment but plan to double that size locally within the next two years. We feel very comfortable in the Cincinnati area. It’s good to be a part of the continuous growth and recovery of the city.”
 
FORCAM’s Factory Framework solution is the worldwide leading MES system. The technology connects, collects and designates real-time data of various computer-controlled types of machines. The signals deliver comparable web-based operating state modes of machines and facilities for each production stage.
 
“Factory Framework is easily one of our most innovative solutions,” Brochheuser says. The technology was awarded with the Baden-Wuerttemberg Innovation Award of 2006. FORCAM’s first customer, the engine plant of Daimler AG, was chosen “Factory of the Year” in 2008 and 2009.
 
“To be exceptionally innovative, it takes exceptional people who are motivated to develop new ideas continuously," Brochheuser says. "We maintain a culture of openness, friendliness and a dynamic relationship with our employees.”

By Mike Sarason


LEAPframe Digital Film Boutique invites you to feel the love

LEAPframe, the digital film and motion design boutique based in Over-the-Rhine, has quietly been building an impressive portfolio of work since forming in the beginning of 2013. In that time, they’ve worked with clients such as Cintas, First Student, Powerhouse Factories, FreestyleUSA, Texas Roadhouse and Carnival Cruiselines. Most of that occurred before the company even had a website or logo up.
 
“At the end of the day, I think our clients, our crew and our team like working with us because we’re about people and chemistry more than anything else,” says Brandon Faris, Director and Co-Founder of LEAPframe. “It’s what we refer to as ‘the love.' We want to spread the love. We get handwritten notes from people we work with all the time expressing gratitude. I don’t think they are used to that kind of highly personalized experience.”

LEAPframe’s early success can be attributed to several factors. First, their unique structure allows them the ability to scale and maneuver based on a given project’s demands in a way that very few other companies can. LEAPframe exists as the film/motion design division within LEAP, a Louisville-based digital marketing company.  As such, much of their work is for LEAP clients, but they also have their own, separate clients and even get hired on to do work for other agencies from time to time.
 
“Ryan [Woolfolk, Co-Founder of LEAPframe] and I had been working together for about eight years, and we wanted to do our own thing, but we didn’t want to have to do paperwork or accounting, we wanted to be creative,” Faris says. “We had already worked with LEAP on a few projects, so we opened a discussion with them, and after one conversation, we knew that it would be a beneficial situation for all of us.”
 
In addition to this, LEAPframe offers an innovative scaling approach that allows them to take on projects large and small while keeping overhead low and prices competitive.
 
“Because of the networks we’ve built up over the years of being in this industry, we have crews and directors in Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Miami, New York and all over that we hire on as needed,” Faris says. “We can build to scale anywhere, keep our prices low, but also ensure the quality doesn’t suffer. We can maneuver and make things happen that larger companies sometimes can’t. We’re like Kung Fu or Legos—we’ll adapt and bring in the right people to meet the need of the job and the client.”
 
No matter the size of the project though, Faris and Woolfolk are the constant. “You’re never dealing with a middle man; it’s always us,” Woolfolk says.  

By Mike Sarason

The Brandery and SAP collaborate to bring resources, investment to startups

The Brandery, the Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization that helps accelerate startups in technology-based consumer experiences, announced last week that it will work together with enterprise software company SAP to provide startups with unique access to innovation and thought leadership.
 
As a first step in the collaboration, The Brandery hosted at its Over-the-Rhine facility the SAP Startup Forum November 4–5. The forum was designed for Cincinnati startup founders whose companies are leveraging big data and real-time and predictive analytics, and included presentations from thought leaders, networking opportunities and breakout sessions.
 
“Our focus is giving our startups the resources that will give them a competitive advantage,” says Mike Bott, General Manager of The Brandery. “When SAP, which is known for work with big corporate databases and systems, told us that they were interested in working with startups and had free tools and training they could offer, we thought we’d be remiss not to offer that to our startups.”
 
For SAP, this collaboration is part of a larger vision called the SAP Start-Up Focus Program, which was launched in celebration of their 40th year. The program works with startup communities across the globe and helps them adopt and develop new applications on SAP HANA, a powerful new in-memory computing platform typically only available to larger corporate clients.
 
“SAP has a strong commitment to help startup companies globally,” says Shawn Reynolds, Global Vice President in marketing at SAP. “We are bringing resources, innovation and access to funding for startups so they can leverage SAP technologies to accelerate growth and their opportunity to do business with some of the world’s largest brands.” Reynolds, a fixture in the entrepreneurial scene in Cincinnati, is not only a mentor to The Brandery, but was also a founding member of Main Street Ventures, a now-defunct Cincinnati-based startup incubator that pre-dated The Brandery by almost 10 years.
 
“This collaboration is different because there is a hands-on aspect,” Bott says. “SAP made an effort to have a two-day forum in our facility and really put some manpower into it. It’s an ongoing thing for us to look at how we can continue to engage our partners in a deeper and more meaningful way. We’re bringing in world-class entrepreneurs, and we want the community to jump at the chance to work with them.”

By Mike Sarason


Urban Timber program responds to crisis with innovation and collaboration

Like great innovators often do, the Cincinnati Park Board had a problem. The root of the problem was this: About 10 years ago, the emerald ash borer, a beetle native to Asia and Eastern Russia, was found in Detroit.
 
The beetle is known to be 100 percent fatal to ash trees, barring a treatment that was too expensive and cumbersome for the park board to consider. With more than 10 percent of Cincinnati’s trees being made up of ash trees, the parks were left with a sizable challenge.  
 
“We knew that we’d have to cut a lot of trees down or risk them decaying and falling down, so we started working on a program to make something out of all of this wood,” says Dave Gamstetter, Natural Resource Manager for the Cincinnati Park Board.  “
 
This eventually led to the formation of Urban Timber, a collaboration between the Cincinnati Park Board, Wilhelm Lumber and several other local partners. The main focus of Urban Timber is creating flooring, tables and dimensioned lumber produced from trees harvested in the city of Cincinnati. Another dimension that sets this initiative apart is that proceeds from the sale of Urban Timber products go to replanting trees in the city.
 
“It’s really a case of making lemonade out of lemons,” Gamstetter says. “Instead of spending around $100,000 a year to turn the infected trees into mulch, we can look at these trees as resources, convert them into a product people can use, put the money back into reforestation, and consumers can support local businesses and their local economy by buying it.”
 
One of the key minds behind the idea for Urban Timber was Sam Sherrill, a professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati and author of the book "Harvesting Urban Timber."
 
“Sam really pushed the idea of using the trees and finding a market for the lumber,” Gamstetter says. “He’s definitely a renowned expert on the process, and I don’t think many people realize he lives here in Cincinnati.”
 
Past clients include Cincinnati Public Schools, Landor and more. Urban Timber is currently in talks with Cintrifuse to put wood floors into their new Over-the-Rhine office space, currently under construction across from the Mercer Commons development.
 
By Mike Sarason


Broadhope Collective celebrates one year, expands community partnerships

The Broadhope Art Collective recently celebrated their one-year anniversary by opening in their new space on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Montana Avenue in the Westwood Business District.
 
After opening last year in Cheviot as a collaborative group of artists looking to enrich the community through the use of visual art, Broadhope has grown as a group and has committed itself to making change in its new neighborhood of Westwood.
 
“We’re looking forward to furthering our community involvement and becoming a part of Westwood’s revitalization,” says Emily Miller, co-manager of Broadhope. With one year under their belt, Broadhope is looking for new opportunities to work with like-minded organizations and continue to integrate into the local arts scene.
 
“We’re planning on working with Madcap Puppets, who share the same vision of turning this corridor into an arts district,” says Miller. “We’re also looking at hosting workshops for kids and creating a scholarship program to include all of our neighbors.”
 
Broadhope began when a small handful of artists living on the West Side recognized the need for a local arts community. Since their inception, the collective has grown from 11 members and two commission artists to currently having more than 25 members and seven commission artists.
 
“In addition to seeing our numbers grow, we’ve seen the collective member involvement grow, which is the most gratifying change I’ve witnessed,” says Kate Dignan, co-founder and media manager. “We are run and staffed by our artists, and we are 100 percent local to Cincinnati, so we place a heavy emphasis on that.”
 
Running Broadhope has been a learning experience for the members since day one; none of them have any prior history running a small business. Despite this fact, they have created a model that works for them.
 
“The first year for any business is full of challenges, but luckily, our collective is full of really enthusiastic and energized people who have different strengths we can make use of,” Dignan says. “We’ve even been asked about whether we had thoughts about franchising, which is incredibly complimentary.”
 
In the near future, Broadhope is working on several events in tandem with a variety of organizations, including Westwood’s first annual Deck the Hall on December 1. To learn more about Broadhope, visit them online here

By Mike Sarason

Xavier collaborates with Cincinnati Police on leadership program

The Xavier Leadership Center (XLC) rolled out its new Public Sector Leader Certificate Program this fall, running six weeks from September-October 2013. The program materialized as a result of collaboration between the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) and the XLC.
 
“Towards the beginning of 2012, Chief Craig [of the Cincinnati Police] asked me to develop leadership training for our police officers, so I immediately contacted Shelly Wallace at the XLC,” says Captain Doug Wiesman, a 23-year veteran of the CPD. “Xavier University, hands down, has the best business and leadership programs in the region. So over the course of the next year, Shelly and I met many times to develop a plan.”
 
While there are a handful of nationally recognized law enforcement leadership programs that CPD officers can attend, Wiesman and Wallace, who is Associate Director of the XLC, worked on creating a local, cost-effective alternative that benefits not only police officers, but also professionals from across the public sector.
 
“After conducting some focus groups and surveys, we discovered that many of the desired topics were already being offered in our established Leadership Foundations Certificate Program,” Wallace says. “So we designed a special day of topics for those in the public sector, combined that with our existing program, and made sure to include participants from the business and public sectors together.”
 
“What I had originally envisioned as a leadership course for law enforcement became something bigger, which I think is fantastic,” Wiesman says. “Our first class was very diverse, and it allowed for a unique interface between public servants and business professionals.”
 
“I very much enjoyed the program; to me, leadership is the cornerstone of firefighting success,” says Ron Wallace, Fire Captain for the Norwood Fire Department. “The Xavier Public Sector Leadership Program provided me with an opportunity to recognize what leadership qualities I already possessed and taught me to build upon those qualities to make me an even more productive leader."
 
After putting one class successfully through the program, the XLC will run the course again in January 2014 and will be starting recruitment in the coming weeks. To learn more, visit the XLC’s website.

By Mike Sarason

Local startup arms content creators and brands with powerful new tools

Local startup company Snipps wants to start a revolution in how we share content on the web. Their idea for how to do it all started with a simple thought.
 
“We noticed that sharing on the web was a one-way proposition,” says Greg Ackerman, Co-founder and Director of Sales for Snipps. “People are collecting our data, they’re making money off of what we create and share—and we’re not. On principal, we didn’t think that was right.”
 
Snipps’ idea is to change the model to one where people not only share content online because they want to, but because they are rewarded to do so. Currently, their approach revolves around a simple link shortener, similar to tools like Bit.ly, that can be shared via social media, e-mail, etc. As the link is disseminated and opened, the user is paid per click by Snipps for the content they have generated.
 
“It’s a great way to monetize your social value in terms of what you’re bringing to the table via any website or social media platforms,” Ackerman says. “But we are also allowing brands crucial visibility to their specific demographics.”
 
The other side of the equation is that when users push out a link, viewers that click on it will see a short ad before being redirected to the content. The technology that Snipps has developed allows the ad to be highly targeted based on what the content is about, who is clicking on it, where they are located and more. In this way, they allow brands a chance to present relevant ads to an audience that is more likely to consume their products.
 
“The management team behind Snipps come from an advertising background,” says Logan Huidt, C-ofounder and Vice-President of Sales. “We believe the technology we’ve developed not only gives consumers a stake in the content they’re creating, but it allows brands to connect in a way that is unique compared to anything else out there.”
 
Although the founders of Snipps are from Cincinnati, they have worked all across the country in cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Boston, and came back to town by choice.
 
“We see Cincinnati as the branding capital of the world,” Huidt says. "You have all of these great companies like Procter & Gamble and Landor, and we want to come on board while we’re still growing and be part of that nucleus. When we thought about really being part of a movement, we decided there’s no better place for what we’re doing.”

By Mike Sarason


Urban League president joins leaders in hailing streetcar construction

Donna Jones Baker, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, has joined the ranks of leaders applauding job creation tied to Cincinnati's streetcar.
 
"The streetcar is happening," Baker says, "and the Urban League wants to be part of it." She notes that rails are being laid through Over-the-Rhine right now, providing jobs and new options for startup businesses along the line.
 
Citing the rise in employment in downtown and uptown, Baker says the Urban League wants to "go to work on getting the streetcar to Uptown," where job growth is booming. The initial phase of streetcar construction will run from The Banks to Findlay Market, with “Phase 1b” aiming to stretch uptown to Clifton.
 
"The Urban League wants our progress to continue, and the streetcar has a major role in connecting important places in our city," Baker says. "If we can re-create neighborhoods where people can live with fewer cars and commute to work by high-quality transit, we're all for that."
 
“The concept of connecting the 70,000 jobs between uptown and downtown through the streetcar is very valuable,” adds Derek Bauman, Co-Chairman of Cincinnatians for Progress. “There will be a compounding effect, as more people start to move to downtown and Over-the-Rhine … these people will need more services like grocery stores and dry cleaners, which will necessitate new businesses and create more jobs. Those are the true benefits.”
 
“Another important factor is that the development potential does not just center around a specific neighborhood,” Bauman continues. “The mayor of Kansas City was recently in town, and we learned from him that they are expecting a total of $4 billion to come from streetcar development. When you are able to attract that kind of growth and keep the dollars in the community by spending locally, that’s where the development will far outweigh the expenses.”

By Mike Sarason


'Raise the Floor' initiative will prepare women for advanced manufacturing careers

Last week, the Workforce Solutions and Innovation Division of Gateway Community and Technical College in Florence, Ky., launched ‘Raise the Floor,’ an initiative designed to promote manufacturing careers to women and to prepare them for stable, highly paid, high-performance production jobs.
 
Raise the Floor has two primary goals: to help women improve their economic well-being and increase the pipeline of skilled workers—in this case women—to ease the current and projected manufacturing labor shortage. The program was developed by a group of women from a variety of employers including Duke Energy, Emerson Industrial Automation, NKY Chamber of Commerce, Northern Kentucky University and more.
 
“This new program was developed by women for women,” says Angie Taylor, Vice President of Workforce Solutions and Innovation. “A consortium of 26 female manufacturing executives and community leaders met throughout the summer and fall to pull the program together, with the assistance of our Dean of Workforce Solutions, Carissa Schutzman.”
 
A Raise the Floor pilot program is currently under way with a small group of women from other Gateway programs who are involved in an introductory class, which will conclude November 8. 
 
The training portion formally kicks off in January when a group of 10 to 15 women are expected to take the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council’s Certified Production Technician class. This four-credit-hour Gateway course ends in May and includes four assessments. When students pass all four assessments, they receive the nationally recognized Certified Production Technician certification.
 
“We are delighted to announce this new initiative that joins our existing efforts to promote manufacturing careers to high school students, displaced workers and veterans,” says Ed Hughes, Gateway President/CEO. “We now have recruitment efforts aimed at four of the five worker populations identified by the Northern Kentucky Industrial Partnership, and we are working to develop outreach to the fifth, which is senior citizens.
 
“The Raise the Floor initiative is a shot in the arm for our extensive manufacturing pipeline efforts,” Hughes continues. “We are very grateful to the United Way, which has co-sponsored this effort, Partners for a Competitive Workforce and all of the 26 women who so generously volunteered their time to develop this dynamic new initiative.”

By Mike Sarason

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


Big Idea Challenge is a big win for all

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) announced the $50,000 grand prize winner of its Big Idea Challenge last week.
 
The grand prize winner was selected from among seven category winners (listed below). The winner, “Cincinnati Preschool Promise ‘Little Kid Gig’” submitted by Jennifer Dauer, creates a highly visible public art project to bring attention to the critical need of better preparing all our children to succeed by giving them access to a quality preschool experience.
 
GCF created the Big Idea Challenge to celebrate its 50th anniversary and give a gift to the community.
 
“We set out to give something back that would create ideas and involve new audiences with The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, with an eye toward our next 50 years,” says Beth Reiter Benson, VP of Communications & Marketing.
 
“We were really overwhelmed by the response; we got twice as many ideas as expected and thousands more votes than projected. The challenge also attracted generous donations from people who want to support the notion that great ideas can come from anywhere in our region.”
 
Category winners will receive a cash prize, and a $5,000 grant will be made to test out their idea. The $50,000 grand prize grant was made possible by personal gifts from every member of GCF’s Governing Board.
 
“All seven category winners have potential outcomes that can have a great impact on the quality of life in our community,” Benson says. “The board felt strongly that the ‘Little Kid Gig’ could bring the whole region’s attention to the crucial need for quality preschool education to ensure that all our children have the chance to succeed in school and in life.”
 
Category Winners
•       Cultural Vibrancy: Feeding Kids' Bellies and Souls (Sherri Prentiss)
•       Economic Opportunity: Expand Adult-ESL Resources for Refugees (Kelly Birkenhauer)
•       Educational Success: Cincinnati Preschool Promise "Little Kid Gig" (Jennifer Dauer)
•       Environmental Stewardship: Taking Root Tree Planting Campaign (Scott Beuerlein)
•       Health & Wellness: Promoting Healthy Eating at Food Pantries (Seung-Yeon Lee)
•       Job Creation: The Kitchen at Findlay Market (Shalini Latour)
•       Strong Communities: Restore the Inclines to Price Hill and Mount Adams (Larry Wulker)

For more information, visit www.bigideacincinnati.com

By Mike Sarason


Meals on Wheels provider turns unused kitchen into incubator for local women-owned food companies

Senior Services of Northern Kentucky, located on Madison Avenue in Covington, had a challenge. A switch in the way they operated their Meals on Wheels program left them with an industrial-size kitchen that was hardly being used. So they set about searching for a tenant who would not only be interested in the space, but also in making a difference in the community.
 
Enter Rachel DesRochers, the founder of Grateful Grahams, a successful food manufacturer dedicated to high-quality vegan products and to supporting fellow women food-based entrepreneurs.
 
“We went through a process of vetting each other out,” said Ken Rechtin, Interim Executive Director of Senior Services. “She liked the space and we liked her, but she couldn’t single-handedly take on the cost of the kitchen.”
 
DesRochers then had the idea to bring in multiple vendors to share the kitchen, which would not only offset cost for Senior Services, but would also help others achieve their culinary dreams.
 
Part of DesRochers’ mission is to help empower women business owners; to that end she has already attracted many to join the collective kitchen incubator including companies Love and Fluff marshmallows makers, Delish Dish caterers, vegan Zucchini bread bakers Evergreen Holistic Learning Center, and Piebird Sweet and Savory Specialties.
 
“The space is being used almost seven days a week; it’s really neat to see all of that activity down there,” Rechtin says. “It’s really a win-win-win and has opened us up to some other thoughts of how our organizations can collaborate further. We’ve talked about sending a Grateful Graham out with every Thanksgiving meal as a way to give back, and we’ve got several more ideas we’re still working out.”
 
In addition to the kitchen, the Senior Services location has additional space still available in the building. Rechtin estimates that there is somewhere around 7,000 square feet of available office space.

“We’re very happy to host the kitchen incubator in our space and would love to have more people with new ideas come in to use our facility,” Rechtin says. 

By Mike Sarason


Cincinnati startup GoSun offers fuel-free cooking, aims to empower families

Patrick Sherwin has been working with solar energy for more than a decade. As the Owner and President of Applied Sunshine, he has a diverse background in construction, science, engineering, management and integration of renewable energy sources. Perhaps just as important to this story, he’s also a tinkerer.
 
“I pulled a solar collector off of a rooftop one day and brought it down to the back yard and started tinkering with it,” Sherwin says. “I’m sort of a do-it-yourself kind of guy.”
 
Before long, Sherwin decided to take some hot dogs from his refrigerator and place them in the tube of the collector—and suddenly he had lunch.
 
“Immediately, I started thinking that this technology had real potential to cook food and serve a need,” Sherwin says.
 
After many months of prototyping, refining and designing, Sherwin and his team have developed the GoSun Stove, a portable, high-efficiency and fuel-free solar cooker.
 
The GoSun technology relies on the principles of parabolic reflection, evacuation (for its insulating value) and the Greenhouse effect, and will passively work its magic whenever the sun is shining.
 
The GoSun team, Sherwin along with designer Matt Gillespie and legal counsel Adam Moser, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the stove. The campaign has been wildly successful raising more than $150,000 in just over a month.
 
“Patrick and I first met in 2011 in a permaculture design course hosted in Cincinnati,” Gillespie says. “We quickly realized that our attitudes and motivations were a perfect match … after he showed me the technology at work, I realized that this project had real potential to change the world.”
 
Aside from simply making and marketing the new technology, GoSun and its founders are dedicated to using what they’ve created to affect change and help populations around the world that need it most.
 
So far, they have partnerships with organizations in Ghana, Latin America, Uganda and Haiti. In some of these countries, up to 50% of family income is spent on energy needs like charcoal and firewood. The GoSun team is looking to empower these families with new solar technology, break the cycle of poverty and help the environment at the same time.
 
To learn more, visit the GoSun website.

By Michael Sarason

 
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