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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

 

Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and Port Authority announce partnership

Earlier this month, The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority announced a formal partnership to develop a suite of economic development programs that will support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for commercial and industrial properties throughout Hamilton County. The partnership will allow businesses to access the latest tools to help plan and finance energy improvements.
 
The programs are set up to provide services throughout the entire project process to enable property owners to invest in energy efficiency improvements, driving down operating costs and freeing up capital for further reinvestment or expansion.
 
"We are thrilled to be able to partner with the Port Authority to bring new energy financing tools to regional businesses,” says Andy Holzhauser, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. “The Energy Alliance has worked diligently over the past three years to develop an infrastructure that has supported over $20M of investment in energy efficiency in almost 50 commercial buildings across the region. Connecting with the Port's financing expertise will ensure property owners have a strong team to drive wide-scale adoption of these services."
 
"The Energy Alliance is a great partner in this effort to renew value in our region's building stock through greater energy efficiency," says Susan Thomas, Vice President of Public Finance for the Port Authority. "Our agencies bring different areas of expertise to this program. By working in tandem, we create a comprehensive solution for the building owner—from initial assessment to innovative financing to performance metrics.
 
"During some of our initial site visits, we are seeing companies that are paying monthly energy bills totaling five, and even six figures," Thomas says. "These are inefficient properties that house vital business operations. Through this new program, we can drive savings and sustainability, which are good for the bottom line."

Holzhauser says a more sustainable region will not only improve the environment, but also the local economy through increased business productivity, higher property values, and the creation and retention of local jobs.
 
"This partnership will make this possible on a large scale throughout Hamilton County," he says. One of the team's first priorities will be rolling out GC-PACE, a tool to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy investments through voluntary tax assessments, thereby enabling access to low-cost, extended term capital. 

To find out more, visit The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance's website here.

Cincinnati Water Works announces UV disinfection treatment facility

The City of Cincinnati and Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) began operations this month of a $30 million state-of-the-art ultraviolet (UV) disinfection treatment facility. GCWW is now the largest water utility in North America to use UV disinfection following sand filtration and granular activated carbon (GAC) absorption.
 
The 19,600-square-foot UV facility located at GCWW’s Richard Miller Treatment Plant on Kellogg Avenue will further enhance water quality and protect against microorganisms such as cryptosporidium.
 
"Cincinnati’s renowned water is about to get even cleaner," says Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. "Investing in water technology not only produces safe drinking water, it can yield multiple benefits including cleaner air and a healthier community."
 
"This is a very important day in the City of Cincinnati," says Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. "This UV disinfection treatment facility is greatly needed to address the changing conditions of the Ohio River and maintain compliance with the next round of US EPA Safe Drinking Water Regulations. The addition of UV disinfection will provide a state-of-the-art multi-barrier treatment process to enhance our water quality and further protect the public’s health."
 
GCWW began working with national and international scientists and water technology experts in the early 2000s to determine the best available technology to enhance the utility’s water treatment system.
 
"Our mission is to provide customers within our regional communities a plentiful supply of the highest quality water and excellent services," says Tony Parrott, Joint Utility Director for GCWW and the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati. "We are excited to launch this new innovative treatment so that we can continue to provide the highest quality water possible."

By Michael Sarason


OTR Malice Ball offers Halloween fun for a good cause

The Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce will host its inaugural Malice Ball: OTR Brewers’ Masquerade on Saturday, October 26 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. in Over-the-Rhine.

Cost for the Ball is $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Admission includes one drink ticket and free parking shuttle service from Washington Park and Mercer Garages.

Proceeds will benefit the Over-the-Rhine Chamber’s Business First Grant Program. Businesses that are selected through the Business First Grant Program’s competitive process are awarded a matching grant of up to $20,000 for tenant improvements, furniture, fixtures and equipment. The program also works to create a support network for the new business, and offers ongoing mentoring for the three-year duration of the program.

The program is designed to support retail, neighborhood services, large employers who hire from within OTR, Women/Minority Business Enterprises, and those that locate in an area that is compatible with the tenanting strategy for the neighborhood.
 
The entertainment lineup for the Ball includes music from DJ Matt Joy, dancing, a spooky photo booth, makeup, styling and masquerade masks by MUJO Studio, and a popup Thriller performance from Pones Inc.. Bartenders from Bakersfield and Japp’s will be serving up drinks.

Guests are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and compete for a chance to win an overnight stay at 21C Museum Hotel. Other prizes include a VIP table, bottle of vodka and glasses at The Cabaret, and tickets to the Cincinnati Museum Center. Costumes are not required.
 
Light snacks will be provided by Bakersfield, Holtman’s Donuts, The Lackman, Lucy Blue Pizza, and Ollie’s Trolley.

By Sarah Whitman

BlackbookHR's Sense software named top product for HR in 2013

Local startup company BlackbookHR announced that its cloud-based software, Sense, has been named one of the Top Products for HR in 2013 by Human Resource Executive. Human Resource Executive, one of the most trusted magazines in the industry, has been holding this competition for 25 years.
 
“It’s a real honor for us,” says Chris Ostoich, Founder and CEO of Blackbhook HR. “An award like this gives us instant credibility; I’m fairly certain we’ll be able to leverage it to create new customer opportunities.”
 
Sense is a platform that gathers instant insights about employee engagement and provides valuable data to improve engagement, retention and culture.
 
“It draws on more than a decade of research by Dr. Brooks Holtom at Georgetown University on talent engagement, individual retention and attrition drivers, and employee flight risk,” Ostoich says.
 
The innovative software goes above and beyond what’s currently on the market and, in some cases, turns it totally on its head.
 
“We take the idea of the traditional employee satisfaction or engagement survey and we smash it,” Ostoich says. “Measuring and tracking employee engagement is one of the best ways to prevent voluntary turnover—but the way we've been addressing it is wrong.”
 
Sense is able to communicate with employees over the course of a year, rather than gathering feedback all at once, and layers in several factors such as “outside the workplace” aspects like connection to the community and number and depth of friendships to develop its analysis.
 
Blackbook was founded in 2008 with the mission of simply helping companies and communities retain their top talent. Since then, it has developed a broad list of clients that includes companies like Macy’s, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Florida International University,and the Miami Foundation. Ostoich credits Cincinnati as an ideal location to grow the business.
 
“We have one of the best early-stage investment communities in the nation … and it’s only getting better,” he says. “A couple of years ago, the issue was the lack of capital available in the post-seed, pre-venture stage. So the city and its corporate partners came together and built Cintrifuse to solve the problem. That’s what I love about this place; we’re doers and we’re humble about it.”
 
By Mike Sarason

Graeter's offers free ice cream to customers who try its new personalized gift card kiosks

This month, Graeter's, a local favorite ice cream shop and one of Cincinnati’s flagship brands, unveiled new technology that has begun to be implemented in select stores. A new self-service kiosk gives anyone the ability to make their gift cards memorable by personalizing them with a timely message. Messages are about the same length as a tweet and are printed right on the gift card.
 
“This is really cool technology,” said Chip Graeter, fourth-generation owner. “These touchscreen kiosks give our guests another great option for a gift and should enhance their in-store experience.”
 
To introduce fans to the new kiosks, Graeter’s is giving a free single-dip of ice cream in a sugar cone to customers who purchase a personalized gift card through Sweetest Day, Saturday, October 19.
 
“So far, our guests have been extremely excited about the new technology,” says Nick Whitney, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Graeter’s. “The process has proved to be simple, even for those who aren’t technologically savvy.”
 
The Connectnow patent pending gift card technology is a product of Openmotion LLC, a Cincinnati-based company.
 
“We are excited to have Graeter’s as a partner for our gift card kiosk service,” says Rob Deubell, President of Openmotion. “Cincinnatians love Graeter’s and love to give it as a gift. Our kiosks will allow consumers to add their own personal touch and make their gift cards more memorable.”
 
“Rob from Openmotion approached us to be the first organization to test this brand-new technology because our target demographics match beautifully,” Whitney says. “Once he showed us his vision and how easy it would be for us to implement, it was an easy decision to move forward.”
 
Whitney and the folks at Graeter’s are aware of the challenge of preserving all of the qualities that consumers love about an age-old brand, while still bringing it into the 21st Century.
 
“We have been a traditional ice cream shop since 1870 and always struggle with how technology should be incorporated into our stores without taking away from our 143-year heritage,” Whitney says. “If the overwhelming positive feedback we have received continues, we may look at some other interactive tools in the future like digital menu boards, tablets that can give nutritional information and more.” 
 
 By Mike Sarason

CincyTech invests in Mason-based Cloud Takeoff

CincyTech, a public-private venture development organization focused on funding high-tech startups in Southwest Ohio, has invested $300,000 in Cloud Takeoff, a Mason, Ohio-based company that offers an easy and powerful cloud-based tool for contractors in commercial construction.
 
Cloud Takeoff was named one of the construction industry's Top New Products for 2013 by Constructech Magazine. Cloud Takeoff provides construction estimating (or "takeoff") software coupled with the ability to share digital blueprint plans and  collaborate in real time. The initial target market is contractors and material suppliers who desire an easier way to estimate, share and collaborate online without having to download plans.
 
The CincyTech investment will allow Cloud Takeoff to accelerate product development, including solutions for all types of  mobile devices. Cloud Takeoff also plans to expand product integrations with plan rooms and content providers around the globe.
 
“Our mission is to drive talent and capital into high-potential technology companies in Southwest Ohio,” says CincyTech President Bob Coy. “We believe that Cloud Takeoff has the potential to create high-quality jobs and returns for investors.”
 
"CincyTech was attracted to an experienced management team, led by Phil Ogilby, a seasoned entrepreneur," says CincyTech Entrepreneur-in-Residence Douglas Groh. "Moreover, Cloud Takeoff has already developed a basic version of the product that is gaining traction in the marketplace. The investment and support provided by CincyTech will enable Cloud Takeoff to more quickly build features and functions that greatly enhance the user experience. This, in turn, should accelerate customer adoption."
 
Truly a family affair, Cloud Takeoff was founded by Phil Ogilby along with his wife, Jane Baysore, and his son Justin. Phil and Justin created a successful estimating software program called Buildware Pro in the 1990s before founding iSqFt construction bidding software. Initially focused on the development of takeoff and estimating software for the commercial roofing and sheet metal industry, iSqFt is now the construction industry's leading online preconstruction management service.
 
To learn more about Cloud Takeoff, visit their website here.

By Mike Sarason


Local entrepreneurs partner with Xavier to launch tech and creative skills classes

As the past few years have seen Cincinnati’s nascent startup-scene begin to take off, there has been a concurrent need to find talent that can bolster and augment this scene. Enter Revved, a partnership between Xavier University and a few stalwart local entrepreneurs aimed at harvesting just this type of talent.
 
Revved offers 5-to-10-week courses (depending on the topic) held at Xavier University that teach the latest in tech and creative skills, including coding and design. Classes are held twice a week during the evening and cater not only to professionals looking to break into the field, but also to Xavier students and faculty.
 
“The goal of Revved is to help supply growing businesses and startups in Cincinnati with the talented individuals that are in high demand,” says Michael Bergman, one of the organizers of the program and founder and CEO of his own business, REPP. “We want these individuals to strengthen their skills sets to make themselves and their organizations succeed in the new digital economy.”
 
In addition to Bergman, Revved was organized by Charlie Key, of local startup Modulus, and Adam Daniel, also of REPP. The three entrepreneurs reached out to Sean Rhiney, Director of the James and Delrose Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning at Xavier to make the program come to life. David Mengel, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, also came on board to manage the program.
 
Revved not only gives the participants valuable skills, but it also emphasizes project-based learning so students have real-world exposure, provides direct access to the leaders of the local startup community and therefore valuable networking opportunities, and provides an avenue for local professionals to give back to the Cincinnati community.
 
“What this is really about is creating a framework,” Bergman says. “We depend on community professionals who want to share their knowledge and skill set.”
 
Thus far, instructors for the courses have come from an array of local small businesses geared toward the digital realm. The first course was held in the summer of 2013, with the second starting this week. The next courses will begin in January of 2014 and will be taught by professionals at Ample and Epipheo.

To learn more about the program, visit the Revved website. If you're interested in teaching, email info@revved.co

By Mike Sarason


Fifth Third Bank launches new branch concept

In what seems to be a growing trend among banks, Fifth Third Bank has made some changes to its Carew Tower location, dubbing it a “micro branch." The branch has been scaled down, gone are the bank tellers, and an increased amount of the process has been automated.
 
“This is the way customers want to interact with us,” says Kevin Sullivan, Fifth Third’s head of distribution strategy.
 
While the tellers aren’t there to interact with customers, the Carew Tower location is still staffed by two personal bankers. Employees greet customers at the door and can help them throughout the entire visit whether it’s for a transaction, to open a new account or for other needs. The shift is designed to free the employee from having to manage a cash drawer and allow for a more consultative conversation.
 
While the Carew Tower bank is the first location to adopt the micro branch format, Fifth Third expects to have about 20 micro locations throughout its 12-state footprint by the end of 2014 (the Cincinnati-based company currently operates more than 1,300 branches).
 
Meanwhile, if customers do need assistance with a more complex transaction, the Fountain Square location still provides the traditional teller experience just a block away.
 
Fifth Third Senior PR Manager Stephanie Honan notes that, “as technology and customer demands change, we continue to review our branch design.”
 
“Although customers continue to migrate to mobile, online and ATM banking to service their accounts, our branches continue to play an important role in terms of sales, service and interactions with our customers,” she adds. 
 
Currently, there are 20 other branches Fifth Third has classified as “heavily automated," but only the Carew Tower has been designated as a micro branch. They plan to monitor each location closely to understand how customers prefer to interact. 

By Michael Sarason

Cincinnati State awarded $2.75 million manufacturing training grant

Cincinnati State received a $2.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand its ability to provide manufacturing careers.
 
The grant will be used to establish the Greater Cincinnati Manufacturing Careers Accelerator (GCMCA). The accelerator will help provide regional manufacturers with a pool of potential employees trained in welding and CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) operations.
 
“We’ve been talking with our industry partners—and listening carefully,” says Cincinnati State President O’dell M. Owens. “This grant will help us not only add to our offerings in areas of particular interest to manufacturers, it will help us expand our reach by providing students with cutting-edge workforce education.”
 
In addition, the GCMA will involve a collaboration between Cincinnati State’s Center for Innovative Technologies (an academic division housing engineering, computing and high-tech programs) and its Evendale-based Workforce Development Center, which provides customized workforce training to employers as well as short-term, retail training programs for individuals.
 
Dr. Dennis Ulrich, Vice President for Workforce Development at Cincinnati State, said the grant will also allow the college to upgrade its CNC lab with the purchase of six CNC Certification trainers. These systems not only offer comprehensive hands-on training on the mills, but also allow for authentic part programming and operation simulation. Online exercises and homework can be assigned to help reinforce the material, allowing for effective classroom laboratory instruction without sacrificing the important hands-on aspect of CNC training.
 
“This is important, because it cuts the cost of training, while accelerating learning,” Dr. Ulrich says. “And accelerating learning, we’ve discovered, encourages retention.”
 
The grant is part of the third round of the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Training (TAACCCT) training grants. This marks the second time that Cincinnati State has received a TAACCCT grant. In 2011, it was named the lead college in a $19.6 million Round 1 grant to manage a national Health Pathways Consortium that helps prepare individuals for careers in the health care industry.
 
The new grant will began Oct.1, 2013 and will run through Sept. 30, 2017.

By Michael Sarason
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