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GCRA targets reinvestment in Evanston's housing market


Expanding on the continued improvements, redevelopment, renovation and business and housing boom in Cincinnati, the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority has targeted investment strategies to repurpose neighborhood real estate and return property to productive use.

Since 2012, GCRA has rehabbed and sold 19 formerly vacant homes in Evanston through Rehab Across Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and more are underway. In 2018, GCRA will begin work on affordable housing through its management of the Homesteading and Urban Redevelopment Corporation.

What exactly is GCRA’s Target Neighborhood Strategy?

According to GCRA, the plan focuses on engagement with neighborhood organizations as the proverbial eyes and ears on the ground; the identification of a small, defined priority area for residential and commercial redevelopment; and the use of a phased approach to revitalization.

Since 2012, the 19 homes that have been rehabbed and sold in Evanston through REACH are located on Ruth, Blair and Woodburn avenues. Currently, two homes are on the market on St. Leger Place, and several other homes on Blair and St. Leger are under construction.

Aside from REACH, several other partnerships/sponsorships have been integral to the overall success of the project. HURC received $300,000 in 2017 as part of NOFA-funded projects in Cincinnati neighborhoods; the rehab of six properties located on Wold, Jonathan and Woodburn avenues are expected to begin this spring.

Other notable projects under the GCRA plan include a 6,000-square-foot commercial space on Montgomery Road, the Findlay Market farmstand on Hewitt Avenue in Evanston and two other commercial properties are on the market at Gilbert Avenue and Montgomery.

Several organizations have partnered with GCRA since the inception of the Target Neighborhood Strategy in Evanston. Lawn Life has been responsible for the cleaning up and maintenance of more than 30 homes in Evanston and employs 11 youth directly from the community. Building Value took the project on digitally and featured one of the deconstructed homes in their video series.

GCRA has found huge success in the revival of the housing market in Evanston, with over 130 properties in their jurisdiction. The organization boasts an impressive investment in the neighborhood, including six lot-to-yard, five single-family home developments, one local government sale, 20 commercial/multi-unit properties, 19 REACH homes and one HURC home.

Click here for more information on the revival of Evanston's housing market, GCRA, REACH and similar neighborhood projects in Greater Cincinnati.
 


Film tour highlights issues surrounding the death penalty

 

On Jan. 16, 2004, the state of Ohio executed Dennis McGuire using an untested cocktail of lethal injection drugs. The result was an execution that lasted nearly 30 minutes and left witnesses aghast at what they had seen.

That execution and the litigation surrounding it is one of the storylines featured in a new documentary film, The Penalty, directed by Will Francome and Mark Pizzey. Recently, Francome and a team of activists traveled around Ohio to screen the film — with three stops in Cincinnati, including one at Xavier University last Wednesday evening.

“Ohio plays such a big part in the film,” says Francome. “We really wanted to bring it here to show the people of the state the unknown story of the litigation around lethal injection.”

The tour was co-hosted by two nonprofits, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center and Ohioans to Stop Executions. IJPC is committed to end local and global systems of injustice; OTSE is a statewide nonprofit group with a mission to reduce the use of capital punishment in Ohio, and eventually repeal it completely.

The Penalty not only focuses on the many problems with lethal injection, but also dives into issues of innocence and the difficulties faced by the families of murder victims. The film centers on three narratives: the story of a man trying to put his life back together after being freed from death row; a murder victim's family’s journey through the legal process; and the efforts of an Ohio attorney to keep his client alive, which ultimately culminated in the botched execution of Dennis McGuire.

“We filmed other stories as part of the film and these stories demanded to be the main focus," says Francome. "They were very compelling, and what makes this film good is that these characters are fighters that really go through something.”

The film's release and the subsequent tour is timely for a Cincinnati man, Raymond Tibbetts, who is scheduled to be executed on Feb. 13. Tibbetts is currently seeking clemency from Governor Kasich, an effort that’s being promoted by OTSE via an online petition.

“It’s an important time to show the film — I just hope that people think about the death penalty and consider what’s being done here,” Francome says.

Abe Bonowitz, an organizer for OTSE, wants Cincinnati to pay attention to this issue and hopes The Penalty will start the discussion in the city. “The state is carrying out the ultimate authority of life in all of our names, and whether we agree with it or not, everybody wants to be sure the system is both fair and accurate. You can’t look at how the system functions and believe that it is either.”
 


Game-changing $50 million pledge spurs $25 million more for Lindner Center for Hope


Over lunch with his nephew, lawyer and entrepreneur Harry Fath learned that insurance reimbursement rates are poor for mental health treatment in Cincinnati. His nephew, Dr. Brian Dowling, a psychiatrist at the Lindner Center for Hope, says that the Lindner Center’s expenses are on par with general hospitals in the Cincinnati region, but the mental health hospital gets just 30-70 percent of what other fields receive in reimbursement.

Fath and his wife Linda were determined that there was something they could do that would be a game changer for the Center. In stepping up with a $50 million pledge to the Lindner Center, the Faths want to encourage matching contributions on a sustaining basis from across our region.

S. Craig Lindner, co-CEO of American Financial Group, and his wife Frances, who serves on the Lindner Center board, joined the Faths pledge and made the first match — of $25 million. Including the Lindner match, the $75 million total is the largest amount ever received by the Lindner Center.

The Lindner Center opened in 2008 in Mason and is affiliated with UC Health. The Center draws patients from throughout the country and treats about 6,700 patients annually. The Lindner Center offers comprehensive programs and innovative options for treatment and support.

This transformational gift will allow the Center to continue treatment for psychiatric disorders; attract and retain the best doctors; serve patients who need financial assistance; and increase understanding and awareness that effective world class treatment exists locally for psychological problems, behavioral health issues and addiction.

While psychiatric disorders affect about one in four adults, there remains a stigma attached to seeking treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health states that mental disorders are common in the U.S. and internationally — an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.

In the last 25 years, the understanding of mental illness and the way the brain functions has expanded tremendously, resulting in new programs, services and treatment options that better match patient’s individual needs.


With their generous gifts, the Faths and the Lindners hope to encourage a wider community to join friends and family members who have been impacted by mental health issues to contribute to the Lindner Center — be it a one-time gift or $10, $100 or $1,000+ per year for the next five years.

To learn more about the Lindner Center for Hope, visit lindnercenterofhope.org.
 


Innovative grantmaking program to help transform the region's health


Today, Bethesda Inc., a major funder of health transformation and cosponsor of TriHealth, announced the launch of bi3, a dedicated grantmaking initiative meant to transform health in the region. bi3 will invest in ideas, with the potential to start and scale health innovation. This will result in better overall health for all of Greater Cincinnati's residents.


“bi3 is the evolution of Bethesda Inc.’s grantmaking work, which builds on our rich history of health-related innovations,” says Mark Holcomb, chairman of Bethesda Inc. “The bi3 initiative better positions us to invest in collaborations and partnerships that lead to breakthrough change in health and healthcare.”

The letters "bi" honor the Bethesda Inc. heritage; the number "3" recognizes that the initiative is built on three core elements — ideas, investments and innovation. It's not a foundation or a hospital, but the result of a philanthropic investor that wants to help transform the health of the region.

As a cosponsor of TriHealth, Bethesda Inc. and bi3 will be able to create and fund collaborations between TriHealth and community-based organizations. As a result, bi3 will have the ability to scale programs more rapidly, setting it apart from other health-related grants.

The initiative will build upon Bethesda Inc.'s learnings and past successes by focusing on four funding priorities, which represent the top health needs in the community: maternal and infant health; behavioral health; palliative and hospice care; and health innovation that are enabled by new technology or accelerate the integration of care.

Overall, bi3 is particularly interested in efforts that achieve health equity by addressing the social determinants of health and health disparities for underserved populations. In the coming months, bi3 will be flexible in its approach to funding in order to best respond to new opportunities and changes within the community.

As part of the launch, bi3 also announced $3.8 million in funding to TriHealth and local nonprofit organizations. Recipients and program info are below:

  • TriHealth in partnership with Hospice of Cincinnati will receive $3.35 million in grant money over three years to launch the first health system-sponsored community-based palliative care program in the region. Once established, the program will relieve physical suffering, manage symptoms, address social needs and support care choices for vulnerable and seriously ill patients and their families. The program, PalliaCare Cincinnati, is expected to provide better care for patients, better health by addressing emotional and phsyical suffering and lower costs from decreased use of acute healthcare services.
  • The Center for Addiction Treatment received a $100,000 grant to provide seed money for the start of a primary care clinic and medical resident training program, specifically designed to treat patients suffering from addiction. The clinic will also serve as a training site for TriHealth residents and others in family practices and internal medicine, so residents can learn evidence-based practices for treating addiction as a disease.
  • Thanks to a $50,000 grant, TriHealth Behavioral Health will define and deploy a Substance Use Disorder Program that will provide clinical training and patient education on comprehensive treatment options. The program will initially focus on patients facing opioid addiction, and will include links to outpatient treatment upon discharge to help prevent further admissions. This program is in the pilot stage at Good Samaritan Hospital.
  • Spry Labs received a $45,000 grant to create a benefit tracker designed for mobile apps, in collaboration with TriHealth. This will allow health system employees a quick, intuitive and convenient way to track time and activities related to delivering community benefit programs. The tracker will also better enable healthcare systems to measure community impact.
  • A $100,000 grant will allow St. Vincent DePaul-Cincinnati to complete a consult agreement with Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill in order to allow immediate patient care services like modifying current drug therapy, starting new therapy, ordering labs and/or physical assessment of patients. The agreement will have the added benefit of providing insight into this community healthcare model and will offer a breakthrough in safety-net healthcare for patients without insurance.

New restaurant pop-up program to activate downtown space, provide opportunities for biz owners


During a time of great business and economic growth downtown, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. has created a new pop-up program for chefs and potential restaurant owners who want to try their hand at opening a restaurant, rent-free. Bringing together entrepreneurs, artists, makers, small businesses and local property owners to fill vacant spaces and activate downtown will benefit residents, existing businesses and visitors alike.

The City of Cincinnati’s Department of Community and Economic Development, in partnership with DCI, released a Retail Action Plan in 2016 for the Central Business District. The Pop Shop Program is a vital part of implementing the plan. It will help create opportunities for future business owners who have had trouble finding accessible, affordable and flexible spaces, and in turn allow them to create, expand and nurture their small business with relatively low risk.

The term “pop-up” typically refers to a retail, restaurant, event or other business that opens for a short period of time in a vacant space. In downtown Cincinnati, DCI wants to provide business owners an affordable way to test their concepts in a brick-and-mortar location, as well as generate brand awareness and create a new stream of revenue.

The Pop Shop Program was created with the goal of creating a more vibrant street-level environment. According to retail recruiter for DCI, Andrew Naab, the desire is to make downtown an "experience" that can't be replicated in a mall, and is a place for everyone.

“For our restaurant pop shop, done in partnership with Towne Properties, we are looking for those individuals or teams that have experience in the food industry (food trucks, caterers, those that work out of incubation spaces like the Findlay Kitchen) and are interested in taking their concept to the next level,” Naab says.

As for what this will bring to Cincinnati? Naab believes this will give entrepreneurs the drive to continue their business ventures.

“Starting a business is hard, and expensive," he says. "DCI and the City of Cincinnati want to make it as easy as possible to get started, as our small business community provides character, sense of place and quality of life to all in the area.”

The space, 700 Elm St., has almost everything a vendor would need, down to the cookware, plates and utensils. It is over 3,000 square feet, and could be operated collaboratively with two food vendors. Those chosen for the Pop Shop restaurant will receive free rent, but will be responsible for utilities in the space.

The goal is to have each tenant in the space for about a month, starting in January.

Applications are currently being accepted for the program, and people are encouraged to visit DCI's website or contact Naab directly at andrew@downtowncincinnati.com for more information.
 


GCF provides grant funding to three local orgs for literacy improvement programs


Three Cincinnati organizations striving to close the literacy gap received grants from the Gladys and Ralph Lazarus Education Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to help take their work to the next level.

“These investments are certainly in alignment with GCF’s overall strategy of building a Greater Cincinnati where everyone can thrive,” says Molly Robertshaw, program officer. “GCF, alongside its generous donors, has invested in several meaningful ways in education, and more specifically, literacy, over the years.”

Cincinnati Public Schools received $248,000 to hire a kindergarten reading specialist for a pilot project at Roll Hill Academy, as well as for hiring a continuous quality improvement manager to focus on literacy.

“At this point in time, nearly all reading intervention specialists district-wide are focused on third graders,” says Robertshaw. “Many say that this is too late to catch kids and play catch up if they are struggling to read. The district’s leadership would like to explore moving reading intervention efforts into younger grades in order to get kids on the right track earlier, but the district needs flexible dollars such as this to test the idea before coming close to considering shifting resources.”

According to data provided by CPS, in kindergarten to third grade literacy, CPS students scored 60.7 percent proficiency on the state reading test, which was a significant improvement from 46.5 percent the year before. The goal for this school year is 75 percent proficiency, reaching 90 percent by 2020.

Madisonville Education and Assistance Center received a $35,000 grant to expand its Early Literacy Initiative, which provides year-round, small group and one-on-one instruction to students struggling to read.

“MEAC is a unique public/private partnership based in Madisonville’s neighborhood school, John P. Parker,” says Robertshaw. “Funds granted will be used to expand to serve additional students, as well as to document the model in hopes of potential scaling in coming years.”

The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative was awarded $5,000 to launch a program developed by Stanford researcher Dr. Jo Boaler to improve student confidence and outcomes in math. The Collaborative will train math teachers in CPS and Winton Woods school districts to implement the Math Mindset system in their classrooms, providing them with support and resources.

“GCF makes investments at both the systems change and program levels to drive the broadest scale change and to test promising ideas,” Robertshaw says.

In addition to these grants, GCF has partnered with The Scripps Howard Foundation and Duke Energy Foundation to invest in regional reading literacy efforts. GCF also works closely with the Success by 6 and Strive Partnership to support systems level change. In late 2018, GCF will offer a program-focused Ensuring Educational Success RFP.
 


Hamilton Mill wins grant to fund four strategic programs


The Hamilton Mill received a $500,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovative Strategies program, the first award to an applicant from southwest Ohio.

“We are ecstatic about the grant,” says Antony Seppi, director of operations for Hamilton Mill. “The EDA saw our collaborative approach, partnerships and our co-applicant, the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Research, as a good investment.”

During the three-year grant period, Hamilton Mill will apply the funds to four projects. The first two are water-focus: the Pipeline H2O water tech accelerator program and a new web portal for water-space issues. The other two programs of focus are Industrialist in Residence, which pairs Hamilton Mill members with mentors in manufacturing; and the ongoing City as Lab partnership with the City of Hamilton.

“One of our first milestones will be the Industrialist xChange Portal to identify and catalog the challenges regional businesses are facing in the water space,” says Seppi. “This platform will allow water startups to search the problems and see if their technology could offer a solution.”

UC will be working closely with Hamilton Mill on the programs supported by the Regional Innovation Strategies grant, bringing their water center and technology commercialization arm to the table.

“Our water center is an informal group of over 30 faculty members working in the water space,” says Phil Taylor, assistant vice president for Research Strategic Implementation. “They are researching water treatment, reuse, distribution, conservation and aquifer structure, and represent many disciplines, including engineering, biology, geography, planning, physics and design.”

The subject-matter experts at UC will work primarily with the Pipeline H2O participants, offering mentorship, research and applied research.

“This collaboration provides faculty with first-hand experience of what is involved in being an entrepreneur and lets them learn what it’s like to work with industry,” Taylor says.

In addition to faculty assistance, UC’s technology commercialization experts will provide entrepreneurial support to Hamilton Mill members and Pipeline startups.

“It’s important to work together on these issues,” says Taylor. “The collaboration between UC, Pipeline and the EPA is just starting and will evolve as we partner more effectively. This regional initiative could have global impact.”

The Hamilton Mill is coordinating with the EDA regional office in Chicago on the grant implementation and will be tracking startups coming into their programs and graduating, and the number of jobs created from those outcomes.

“We have come a long way in three years,” says Seppi. “This grant will transform us moving forward. It is a huge opportunity to take Hamilton Mill to the next level.”


Hacking Heroin winners embarking on real-time implementation


The Hacking Heroin winners recently updated the Cincinnati City Council's Education & Entrepreneurship Committee and IX Health attendees on the status of their projects.

“It was fantastic to see these two teams share their tireless work with their elected leaders,” says Colleen Reynolds, director of community affairs, Office of Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld. “I'm a big believer in the collaboration between government and the tech community, especially when a tech-based solution can help us make a dent in solving a real, challenging problem such as the opioid epidemic.”

Two of the winners, Give Simply (formerly Give Hope) and Crosswave Health (formerly Window), are actively preparing their products for market. Give Simply uses crowdfunding concepts to connect individuals with local organizations fighting the heroin epidemic; Crosswave Health created a platform to match individuals with community resources for treatment.

The third Hacking Heroin winner, Lazarus, is on hold but hopes to continue working with its on-demand service platform soon.

“These teams are building tools focused on fixing local problems, but that could also be useful nationally,” says Annie Rittgers, 17A founder and one of the Hacking Heroin organizers. “Now that they are real organizations, they have much more tailored needs and are looking for mentors, funders and partners who know the markets they are building in.”

The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County recently announced each entity would commit an additional $200,000 to fighting the opioid epidemic. These funds will be allocated to building the capacity of the Addiction Services Hotline, expanding Quick Response Teams, increasing community education and training and Narcan distribution. The City also allocated $5,000 to support further development of the Hacking Heroin solutions.

“I don't think this will be the last of a city investment in ensuring the success of these projects,” says Reynolds. “As the epidemic continues to plague our community, our Council office — along with our many community partners — believes an all-hands-on-deck response is required.”

“The June hackathon is proof that a small push like a weekend event can have enormous impact,” Rittgers adds. “The world now has two more businesses focused on making a dent in the problem, and we have a whole community here in Cincinnati collaborating in new ways that will contribute to better outcomes for everyone.”

Hacking Heroin successfully engaged the business and tech communities in the fight to end the opiate crisis. With two of the winners ready to implement their solutions, 17A is focusing on how to leverage the momentum from the June event to magnify the impact of Hacking Heroin locally and nationally.
 


LADD strengthens community with new health and wellness initiative


Last month, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled partnered with Hamilton County Special Olympics and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to present its first ever FitFest.


The event featured fitness instruction, group exercise classes, health screenings and presentations on health and wellness. Open to the entire community, FitFest allowed LADD to showcase and expand upon its new Health & Wellness Program that launched earlier this year.


“LADD began its Health & Wellness Program as an initiative to support our staff in lowering stress and leading healthier lifestyles, and our adults with developmental disabilities in leading fuller, more connected and more independent lives,” says Kristin Harmeyer, LADD's health and wellness coordinator.


As a result of LADD's ongoing commitment to health and wellness for its employees and clients, Fit For Life (light workouts) and High Intensity Circuits, in addition to Lunctime Yoga and Evening Yoga are offered 1-2 times each week.

 

Harmeyer says she’s already seeing an impact — an impact that’s both positive and exciting.


“People who, prior to our program, got minimal physical activity are now coming up to me regularly and asking, ‘When is the next class?’” she says. “I am seeing strengthened overall confidence and life skills as a result.”


For a program that’s already seeing success, the hope is that it can continue to grow. FitFest was the largest and newest initiative for LADD, and Harmeyer says it was important for the nonprofit to host an event for the entire community because it allowed for building connections and new relationships.

“Not only was it an opportunity for diverse people to come out, learn and be active together,” Harmeyer says, “but it was an opportunity for us to forge relationships with other organizations with shared visions who have expressed interest in more involvement with LADD’s health and wellness initiative.”
 


Local chef introduces variety, one cookbook at a time


One local chef is bringing adults of all ages together for a travel-themed potluck dinner once a month in Over-the-Rhine.

Chef and owner of the Tablespoon Cooking Co., Jordan Hamons, came up with the idea for a cookbook club from articles she read on Serious Eats and Food 52. She based her business model on other successful platforms she's read about.

Those that join, as well as the chefs, make dishes from a different cookbook each month and bring their dishes to Revel OTR Urban Winery and share with others.

“I wanted a space that was welcoming and friendly and promoted conversation,” Hamons says.

In September, the theme was French cooking. Everyone made a dish from the cookbook My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. It was about more than just the food — it was about the conversations that took place.

People started to talk about the book, the recipes they made and their travels to France or their hopes to travel to France. “You meet new people and it really encourages that type of conversation,” Hamons says.

Last month's 33-member group included adults of all ages with little to very advanced cooking backgrounds. Hamons encourages people of all kinds to cook food from the cookbooks that they would not normally cook from.

“It's like a no-risk way to try a lot from the book and find some new foods that maybe you would not have expected to like,” she says.

Hamons and some of the other chefs involved provide a few of the main dishes and pair them with tasteful wines. Anyone can sign up on Tablespoon's website and pick a dish to cook, which range from easy to very advanced. The cookbook potlucks are $30, and cover the cost of the main dishes, the rented space at Revel and three glasses of wine. The cookbooks have to be purchased separately.

The cookbook club will meet again on Nov. 7 for a Lebanese themed potluck. This time, the cookbook is Orange Blossoms and Rose Water by Maureen Abood.

“She's a friend of mine and it's an amazing book,” Hamons says. “The food is so good."

The last day to meet for this year will be the potluck on Nov. 7, but after the New Year, the potluck will return once every month. Next year, Hamons will be working on the cookbook club as well as more cooking classes and a series of tasting events with Tablespoon.

To check out what she has in the works, click here.
 


Ohio Innocence Project works with UC law students to exonerate those wrongly convicted


The Ohio Innocence Project, based at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, marked International Wrongful Conviction Day on Oct. 2 with a week of events across the state.

The expansion of programming comes on the heels of an announcement that Ohio Representative Bill Seitz introduced legislation to provide compensation to individuals wrongly convicted due to prosecutors withholding evidence.

“This will have a tremendous impact on the lives of some of our exonerees who were released from prison with nothing and with no hope for compensation for the several years of their lives lost to wrongful imprisonment,” says Rashida Manuel, outreach manager.

Among the nearly 70 organizations that make up the Innocence Network, which is a collective of projects around the country working to exonerate wrongfully convicted men and women, OIP is unique for several programs.

“While many projects use law students to help investigate their cases, OIP’s one-year fellowship allows students to have a more in-depth view of innocence work and gain substantial hands-on experience,” Manuel says.

OIP is also the only program in the country to work with undergraduate students.

“We introduced OIP-u, a program for undergraduate students, two years ago,” says Manuel. “A core group of students from six universities in Ohio — UC, Xavier, the University of Dayton, OSU, OU and John Carrol University — work closely with us to host events on their campuses aimed at raising awareness about wrongful conviction.”

One of the UC events is the annual Dash and Bash and Freedom Walk. The race raises awareness of wrongful convictions, with exonerees participating in the Freedom Walk, as well as funds for OIP’s work.

Although focused on overturning wrongful convictions in Ohio, OIP works with organizations in Europe and Asia to start their own innocence projects through its Center for the Global Study of Wrongful Conviction and the European Innocence Network conference.

In September, OIP director Mark Godsey released a book, Blind Injustice, about his transition from prosecutor to innocence attorney and the causes of wrongful convictions. The Mercantile Library will host Godsey and several OIP exonerees for a reading and talk on Nov. 8.

“A central tenet of our mission is to inform the public of criminal justice system flaws, and our hope is that as communities become more educated on wrongful conviction, substantial change can be made,” Manuel says.

As OIP approaches its 15th anniversary next year, it is celebrating its work in freeing 25 Ohioans who were wrongfully convicted, and anticipate more exonerees in the future.
 


Cincy hosts nationally recognized TechStars Startup Week Oct. 9-13


During the week of Oct. 9-13, #StartupCincy will host Techstars Startup Week Cincinnati powered by CincyTech — a first of its kind for the city. The five-day event is free and open to the public. Denver-based Techstars is a worldwide network that helps cultivate relationships among entrepreneurs, bigcos and startups in order to help them all succeed.

In years past, NewCo and FounderCon have showcased Cincinnati’s capability and talent as a startup hub, but for Cintrifuse’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager Henry Molski, the local startup scene has never seen an event quite like this.

“This year's event rides on the momentum of last years’ successes and pushes us into a new territory, but now we're telling our own story — that #StartupCincy has some of the best tools in the Midwest for you to launch a successful business,” says Molski. “Five full days of events: more than 60 speakers, 50 sessions, five happy hours, two demo days and a pitch competition. It's a big week.”

Each day, the public is invited to see what the local startup community is all about. The entire week is free and open to anyone who is interested. It’s a time to engage with others, source talent and learn best practices, all while creating opportunities for collaboration and growth.

And it’s all happening the same week as BLINK and Music Hall’s grand re-opening, which is no coincidence, says Eric Weissmann, Cintrifuse’s director of marketing, as the arts and innovation go hand-in-hand.

It was just a few years ago that event organizers were encouraged to space things out in the city, but Molski says the concentration of events this year “is a function of how much our city has grown and continues to work together.”

One of the 60 speakers at Startup Week is Alicia Kintner, CEO of ArtsWave, who will be speaking about the arts’ role in the innovation and entrepreneurship community.

“It was our intent to overlap with the [various arts-related] openings because it shows the energy that is pumping through our arts and innovation district in Over-the-Rhine,” Molski says. “It's very vibrant.”

For him, it’s impossible to walk the sidewalks of OTR without bumping into members of the arts and entrepreneurial communities every few steps, but there are still individuals he says who may not be in-the-know when it comes to the other community.

“With all of this happening at once though, it's impossible to miss out on the connection,” Molski says. “If you're involved in one, you're involved in the other.”

Check out Startup Week’s complete schedule of events, and read about another startup-related event in this week's issue that's happening later in October.


Hacking Heroin leaders to present ideas at IX Health event on Sept. 29


The Innovation Xchange fall program, IX Health 2017, will explore civic health technology on Sept. 29, which is organized by Cintrifuse and The Health Collaborative. Organizers expect over 175 attendees from local and national heavy-hitters in the healthcare and technology industries, such as Humana, Microsoft, P&G, Mercy Health, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Johnson & Johnson and the City of Cincinnati.

“A healthy city equals healthy people,” says Emily Geiger, managing director of Spry Labs. “So how do we get people to the right resources to address social determinants of health like transportation, substance abuse, safety, food and housing? IX Health starts that conversation across the community between civic leaders, healthcare and others about these issues.”

Previous IX Health events have been less focused on a single theme, instead exploring innovation around multiple health topics. The Hacking Heroin event earlier this summer, and its success at bringing together disparate sectors around a single issue, prompted this year’s focus on civic health.

“What Hacking Heroin showed us is that by focusing on one issue, you can address the many social determinants contributing to the problem and the technology that offers solutions,” Geiger says.

Following a kickoff talk by Ted Smith, former chief civic innovation officer at Louisville Metro, attendees will break out into three civic health salons, presented by Spry Labs, the Health Collaborative and 17A.

Spry Labs will explore on-demand, consumer-focused models in healthcare. The Health Collaborative will look at an innovative model being tested in Cincinnati that connects healthcare providers with the social service sector. 17A’s salon will feature an interactive panel on the opioid crisis.

“We are excited to have representatives from regional health systems, social services and the tech community all in the same room,” says Geiger. “Startups will demo and get exposure, and they will hear what the community needs, which could spark new ideas.”

Over lunch, keynote speaker Adam Hecktman, Microsoft Chicago’s director of civic technology and innovation, will talk about his work partnering with public organizations and nonprofits to apply tech solutions to civic problems.

After lunch, startups working on civic health issues will pitch and demo their ideas. “We put out a call to action to local and national startups that are increasing the accessibility of services,” says Geiger. “The pitches will be problem-focused using a civic health mindset to provide solutions.”

To wrap up the day, the three Hacking Heroin winners will offer progress updates and demos of their projects. The final session will be followed by a networking happy hour.

“People in the tech industry are looking for a purpose-driven opportunity in the work they do, even if it is a side project,” says Geiger. “IX Health can flip the pitch by connecting the problems with the resources and help to solve it.”

IX Health will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 29 at Union Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Click here to view the day's schedule of events and to purchase tickets (range from $50-99).


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalist: Circus Mojo


Circus Mojo’s Paul Miller says “there’s no business like show business,” and he should know. He has performed as a clown with the “Greatest Show on Earth,” also known as the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey Circus, as well as Off Broadway shows and soap opera gigs.

He is now channeling his inner (and outer) PT Barnum to start a new venture called BIRCUS Brewing Co., which is located in Ludlow. This idea is about 20 years in the making and dates back to when Miller first arrived in Cincinnati.

In 2009, Miller relocated to Ludlow and founded Circus Mojo to offer circus classes, corporate team building opportunities and special events, and to create and run the Circus Wellness Program for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

That same year, Miller also bought a former Ludlow movie theater built in 1946 to provide a home base for Circus Mojo and a venue for homegrown, non-site-specific events and productions. Now known as The Ludlow Theatre, a venue for music, comedy, plays and circus, it was recently named to The National Register of Historic Places.

From 2009-2014, the space was successful as a venue for showcases and events produced by Circus Mojo, as well as a space for private rental until it became the temporary incubator/brewing space for BIRCUS. Today, the space is under construction to better accomodate BIRCUS.

Circus Mojo is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

The "Big Pitch" that Circus Mojo is making is to use the potential $20,000 award to take the plastic kegs that BIRCUS is made in and have them shredded, melted and poured into a mold that will be converted into spinning plates. These plates will be distributed during Circus Mojo's performances and classes, as well as to its nursing home clients and the kids at Cincinnati Children's. 

“The concept of taking our own plastic kegs and recycling them into a product that I have been buying for 20 years is gigantic,” says Miller. “Our kegs that hold our fantastic beer will be transformed into circus props and given away to people who will be entertained by our performers.”

During the Big Pitch process, Circus Mojo will be mentored by Vance Marshall, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Mike Zorn.

“Oh and another thing: Don't be afraid of clowns,” Miller says. “We have existed since the dawn of time and our goal is to make people laugh while subverting authority.”


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How to Attend the ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank:

ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

Read the previous profiles of 
Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop + Studio and CGCERAMICS and Untold Content LLC.
 


Creativity and innovation to be highlighted at upcoming Maker Faire


Cincinnati prides itself on local talent, craftsmen and creatives who make, create and hone their craft all over the region. There are designers, artists, homebrewers, screenprinters, textile makers and writes a-plenty, and on Oct. 7 & 8, the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire will highlight many of these individuals at a "show-and-tell" type event.

The Maker Faire is organized by the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the global Maker Faire network, which was created by MAKE Magazine. Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and is a celebration of the greater Maker Movement. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community by incorporating local crafters, collectors, tech enthusiasts, scientists and more.

In sharing their skills with other community members, makers not only enhance the variability of their craft but also the reach. Maker Faire uses the opportunity to showcase individual crafts among amateurs and professionals alike so that they may continue to pass those skills along to others.

Some of the makers included in this year’s festival are Careers in Welding, Choitek Megamark, OKILUG, OpenHeart Creatures, Project Build It (via the CAC) and Shari the Bag Lady.

For the second consecutive year, the fair will be held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, and the Cincinnati Museum Center's media relations manager Cody Hefner hopes that the event will push the limits of the location this year and use it to its full potential.

Makers can still apply for a booth to showcase their chosen skill and share what they have learned through their craft. There's a separate event for filmmakers, the CurioCity Series: ShakesBEERean Film Festival, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7. 

For ages 21 and up, this includes a Shakespearean film festival, opportunities to meet with some of the festival’s makers and some of Cincinnati's finest beers.

Tickets for Saturday and Sunday, the ShakesBEERean film festival or all three can be purchased here. For more information, visit the Maker Faire homepage or Facebook page.
 

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