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offenberger & white launch ed.it2 content management application

Offenberger & White (OffWhite) has launched the fifth generation of their content management application, Ed.it2.
 
The Marietta-based company is a marketing consulting firm dating back to 1985. Bill White, CEO and co-founder, says the product was conceived, funded and developed by Marietta College alumni working for OffWhite. “It is a 100 percent Ohio-generated solution to the global problem of cost-effective website management and integration.”
 
Ed.it2 is a digital media dashboard that includes a content management system developed for browser-based website management and editing. White says this latest iteration of the application permits management of digital media and websites from personal devices, such as iPhones, iPads, PCs and other computers with access to a conventional Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
 
“Central to the Ed.it2 is a ‘Simple Edit’ function that provides real-time editing on live pages whenever the user is logged in,” explains White. “If you see a typo, simply click the icon, make the change and save.” The changes are immediate, and mistakes can be undone just as quickly.
 
Looking ahead, OffWhite will be demonstrating live website applications of Ed.it2 at webinars. They’ll be hosting “lunch and learn” sessions, highlighting the products features to clients. “Ed.it2 provides easy access and a secure user interface for setting multiple access privileges, managing databases, quick content editing, content optimization to improve search engine rankings, analytics, social media and more.”


Source: Bill White
Writer: Joe Baur

two clevelanders recognized in the tie ohio international entrepreneur awards

TiE Ohio will recognize international entrepreneurs at its awards ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 20. Two Cleveland business executives, Jose Feliciano and Wayne Duigan, will be honored.
 
TiE Ohio is a resource for entrepreneurs to network and find mentors for their businesses. This event recognizes immigrant and American-born entrepreneurs who have taken their businesses to an international level.

“Entrepreneurs have the passion, the dream and they are willing to put themselves all in,” says Joe Cole, executive director of TiE Ohio. “We want to reward the entrepreneurs who are going global.”
 
Jose Feliciano, a trial lawyer with BakerHostetler, will receive the Community Catalyst Award. The award recognizes people who have supported immigrant entrepreneurs. “He’s really been in the forefront of advocacy of the immigrant entrepreneur,” adds Cole. “He has a predisposition to being an entrepreneur.”
 
Feliciano is the founder and chair of the Hispanic Roundtable, is former chairman of the Hispanic Leadership Development Program, founder of the Hispanic Community Forum and was a founder of the Ohio Hispanic Bar Association. He also hosts the monthly talk show, El Sol de Cleveland. “He’s really been out in the forefront,” says Cole.
 
Wayne Duigan, director international sales for Horizons, Inc. is nominated for the Global Entrepreneur award. “He has significantly grown Horizons’ global presence,” Cole notes. “They’ve really done a great job in establishing an international presence.”
 
The event will be held at the Ariel International Center at 5:30 p.m. Mark Kvamme, president and CIO of JobsOhio, will be the keynote speaker. 

 
Source: Joe Cole
Writer: Karin Connelly

new somolaunch competition to award 5k to small business with big idea

SoMoLend, the Cincinnati-based online peer-to-peer lending site, has launched a new small business competition. The winner gets $5,000 to help fund a new idea.

SoMoLaunch is the lender's first business competition. Participants have until Sept. 30 to apply at the SoMoLend website.
The winning company will receive:
  • $5,000 in cash
  • National publicity
  • A mentoring session with SoMoLend founder Candace Klein
“There are so many talented entrepreneurs out there with fantastic business ideas, but gaining financing might be the hardest obstacle they face," says Klein in an announcement. "We want to encourage innovation and recognize small business owners and their hard work. This is our way of lending a hand to the entrepreneurial community.” 

The prize can be used for business expansion, equipment upgrades, promotional materials or other growth needs.
Eligibility is based on a number of factors. Applicant businesses must be incorporated as a corporation or LLC, and submit a loan application.

Other entry requirements include a fully developed business plan, completion of all sections of the SoMoLend application with contributions from all company owners, completed financial statements and financial projections, a viable business model and evidence of research.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter


check ohio first helps companies and organizations buy and sell locally

The Ohio Department of Development wants to help companies and organizations buy and sell their products locally across the state. 

Check Ohio First is a free and easy-to-use online program to promote contracting with and between Ohio businesses. “Both suppliers and buyers enter brief profiles into the Check Ohio First directory, which can then be searched by Check Ohio First members,” explains Wendy Boortz, Program Manager. “The program automatically matches buyers and suppliers by industry codes.”

“Check Ohio First celebrates the strength of Ohio businesses,” said Christine Schmenk, Director of ODOD, in a news release. “Ohio buyers like to do business with local companies, and this partnership is perfect for job creation.”

Check Ohio First was launched in October 2011 as a virtual, year-round extension of the Ohio Department of Development’s annual Ohio Business Matchmaker program, an annual procurement event now going into its eighth year.

According to Boortz, Check Ohio First recently added free webinars to the mix. “Buyers educate suppliers on how to do business with their organization, and procurement counselors provide webinars that help businesses get ready for contracting opportunities,” she says.  Most of the webinars are recorded and stored in the resource library located on the Check Ohio First website.

“The website also contains a list of upcoming events, and visitors can browse our resource library and link to procurement training and opportunities,” she states.

Boortz notes that Check Ohio First is building a database to reflect private and public users. “We currently have about 350 profiles, including 100 companies that have registered as both buyers and suppliers and 20 as buyers only.”


Source:  Wendy Boortz
Writer: Lynne Meyer

great lakes venture fair unites investors and bioscience/IT startups

The inaugural Great Lakes Venture Fair will take place at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown October 17-18, on the heels of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds annual conference. The fair is a collaborative effort  between  JumpStart, Ohio Capital Fund, Ohio Venture Association, TiE Ohio, CincyTech and TechColumbus and will bring together investors and startups from across the Midwest.
 
“It’s a chance for the venture capital community to come together and see some of the most promising startups,” explains Carolyn Pione Micheli, director of communications for CincyTech. “According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, in 2007 all net news job growth came from companies that are less than five years old.” The event is the successor to the Ohio Capital Fund’s Early Stage Summit, which was held in Columbus for seven years.
 
The GLVF will only accept 18 startup companies in bioscience and IT to pitch their companies to investors. Other activities at the event include presentations on regional investment activity, and conversations about building future growth in startups and investing.
 
“In terms of growing fresh new jobs, small companies are the key, “ says Micheli. “The startup community is really important to our economic future.”
 
Keynote speaker will be Jeff Weedman, vice president of global business development for Proctor & Gamble. The application deadline for companies looking for funding is Aug. 12. Registration to attend is $200 before Sep. 15, $250 after that.

 
Source: Carolyn Pione Micheli
Writer: Karin Connelly

inaugural innovation engine strives to build digital media presence in ohio

Business is bound to boom for Central and Southeast Ohio. Digital media entrepreneurs from Columbus, Middleport and Athens will have access to $20,000 in seed funding as part of Ohio University’s inaugural Innovation Engine at the Innovation Center.
 
“The Innovation Engine is part of a series of new initiatives, including the development of a digital media incubator at the Innovation Center, designed to address the surge of digital media entrepreneurs emerging from Ohio University and throughout the region,” explains Jennifer Simon, director of the Innovation Center.
 
The boot camp is the result of a variety of partnerships with other innovative programs, such as the College of Communication’s Game Research & Immersive Design laboratory (GRIDLab) and TechGROWTH Ohio. Simon also credits successful models across the country, such as Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator and Ohio State’s 10xelerator as inspiration.
 
Innovation Engine’s inaugural class was selected “based on the potential for follow-on investment within six months following the program,” says Simon. Participants will gain access to seminars, networking opportunities and dozens of hours of mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts.
 
Innovation Engine 2012
  • Flashcrop, a mobile application designed to make digital flash cards for students by taking pictures of notes, glossaries and study guides and turning those images into note cards.
  • Initio Creative aims to be a pioneer in media production by providing solutions for customers based on current markets.
  • Lightborne Lore is a digital games and animation company focusing iOS and Android content.
  • Brandbeau is a mobile app that allows for real-time analytics for brand ambassador campaigns.
  • Affine Technologies offers network consulting and support services, custom software and programming, and computer engineering.
  • Parabox is a small game development company selected as an alternate for the program. If any of the other teams are unable to participate, they will replace that team and receive investment funds.
Participating companies agree to stay in the state of Ohio for three years or pay back the $20,000. “We want these companies to succeed. But, we have additional goals – growing jobs and wealth in Ohio.”


Source: Jennifer Simon
Writer: Joe Baur

50 ohio companies receive export assistance from ohio department of development program

More than 50 Ohio companies have received export assistance from the Ohio Department of Development’s International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE) program.
 
“The Office of Business Assistance leads the initiative to strengthen Ohio’s exporting economy and advance its leadership position in the global marketplace,” says Assistant Deputy Chief of Export Assistance, Wesley Aubihl. “Specifically, export assistance strives to increase international sales of Ohio-made goods and services, creating more and better jobs for Ohioans.”
 
Designed to increase exports and create jobs, IMAGE helps companies promote their products and services in new international markets. Best of all, IMAGE will reimburse companies a maximum of $6,000 or 50 percent on qualifying expenditures up to $12,000 for activities associated with new international marketing initiatives, such as trade shows and foreign marketing material translation.
 
Airstream Inc., developers of lightweight travel trailers in Jackson Center, is just one example of a company that has taken off (no pun intended) thanks to assistance from IMAGE grant funds. Explains Aubihl, “[The funds] offset the costs of participating in a State of Ohio-Council of Great Lakes Governors trade mission to Brazil. The trade mission enabled Airstream to meet potential key customers in the Brazilian market.”

Justin Humphreys, Vice President of Sales at Airstream, has credited the Ohio Department of Development with playing a special role in their ability to meet with key players in Brazil to assess the potential of doing business abroad.
 
Aubihl is hopeful a slew of Ohio businesses will follow in Airstream’s footsteps and experience similar international success. “Since the program began in January, the Ohio Department of Development has awarded 15 trade mission stipends, supported 37 international trade shows, 10 U.S. Commercial Service projects, 20 translations of websites or printed materials, and three export education activities,” he explains. “The participating companies have reported more than $5 million in actual export sales, with additional sales expected over the next 12 months."


Source: Wesley Aubihl
Writer: Joe Baur

statewide conference highlights polymer industry's growth across ohio

Polymers are big business in Ohio. According to Wayne Earley, CEO of PolymerOhio,  “Ohio is definitely a leader in the production and use of polymers.” According to its website, PolymerOhio is an Ohio Edison Technology Center focused on “enhancing the Ohio polymer industry company's global competitiveness and growth.”

Earley’s comments came on the eve of the two-day Ohio Polymer Summit, which was held June 6-7 in Columbus and attended by more than 150 people from throughout Ohio. This was the Ninth Annual Biennial Ohio Polymer Summit.

A presentation on innovation engineering leadership was one of the summit highlights, according to Earley. There was also a segment on shale gas and its impact on Ohio’s polymer industry. “Shale gas is very significant to our industry here in Ohio by lowering energy costs and also lowering the cost of basic polymer materials,” he explains.

Another important session was the introduction of the new computational methods program. “Small- and medium-size companies can’t afford to acquire the software needed for such things as mold design and extruder simulation,” Earley says. “With the assistance of a federal grant, Polymer Ohio is now making these tools available to smaller companies.” 

The polymer industry is Ohio’s largest manufacturing industry, he states. “More than 130,000 people are employed in Ohio’s polymer industry. It’s a growing industry here.

There’s high growth in several specific segments, including conductive and electronic polymer materials, polymer nanocomposites, biomaterials and feed stocks and recyclable polymers.”

Earley points out that polymers aren’t just plastic. “They’re also in adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings and composites of other materials.”

He says that Ohio is the world leader in compounding of polymers – combining different materials to achieve a set of specifications. PolyOne in Avon Lake is the state’s largest compounder, according to Earley. “They’re successful because they have the technology and the capabilities to develop materials and compounds that are specific to certain important applications. They’re also very innovative,” he adds.

Source:  Wayne Earley, PolymerOhio, Inc.
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

ecolibrium solar pioneers first 100 percent recycled mounting display

Brian Wildes, founder and CEO of Ecolibrium Solar, is a big believer in sustainable business practices, and the name of his Athens-based company reflects that.

“I named it Ecolibrium because we have to realize that our economics have to be in line with our ecology in order for sustainability to be reached,” he explains.

The company’s product, EcoFoot, is the first 100 percent recycled plastic mounting system for flat-roof solar arrays. It provides a systematic arrangement of solar panels in rows and columns.
 
Wildes got the idea for EcoFoot while working as an engineer for a solar panel installation company. “We were always in search of new and better products and not satisfied with what existed in the marketplace,” he recalls.
 
There are three types of applications for solar panels – a flat roof, a pitched roof and ground mounting. EcoFoot is designed for flat roof mounting only.
 
According to Wildes, his product represents a big step toward enabling grid parity. “That will occur when the solar industry will match the cost of grid-delivered electricity without price subsidy,” he explains. “EcoFoot saves both time and money for solar panel installations.”
 
Wildes established Ecolibrium Solar by himself in April 2010. Since then, he has added six employees and is ready to roll out EcoFoot 2 in a couple of months. “This will be significantly different from the first version,” he says. “It will have a lower ballast weight, integrated grounding and wire management and will be more durable.” The materials in both products are recyclable, he adds.
 
“We stack up well against our competitors,” Wildes notes. “We’re leading the trends of material changes in the industry.” He plans to increase his sales force for more penetration of national and international markets.
 
Ecolibrium has received funding from TechGROWTH Ohio.


Source:  Brian Wildes
Writer:    Lynne Meyer

eco2capture awarded $100,000 for algal growth project to capture CO2

The Athens-based company Eco2Capture has been awarded $100,000 by the Ohio Third Frontier for its project, Demonstration of Advanced Polymer Membranes for Algal Growth Enhancement, which will showcase how to mass-produce algae for the CO2 capture and biofuel markets.

“We’re commercializing some technology developed at Ohio University to enhance the amount of carbon dioxide that is taken from the air or from a gas, like at a power plant, and transfer it into the water where algae grows,” explains Dr. David Bayless, President of Eco2Capture. “In theory, you can grow more algae with more carbon dioxide and that really changes the economics of algal growth, because the more algae you can grow within a fixed system, the better your return.”

Algae is used for fuel, Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, nutraceuticals, and all kinds of dyes. The ECO2Capture membranes will be used to increase the productivity of algae for commercial algae growers by providing very inexpensive, just-in-time carbon dioxide to promote photosynthesis. The just-in-time delivery will also significantly lower variations in water acidity and promote algae culture health.

The technology, which Bayless characterizes as “quite simple,” is a membrane technology that accelerates the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, which in turn accelerates its acceptance into the water. Dr. Bayless and his supporting staff of Jesus Pagan and Dr. Ben Stuart will demonstrate the technology at four different sites at two different levels. First is an initial exam showing people that it works.  “The other is to actually do some eco-productivity measurements and analysis of the algae.”

Dr. Bayless and his team are excited for the opportunity. “It’s a big step and without that funding from the state of Ohio, it would have been a real challenge for us to try to get pre-seed funding to do this demonstration,” he says. “This technology is very interesting, but it has not been proven at a very large scale. What we’re trying to do is take it out of the university environment and turn it into something that is actually practical.”


Source: David Bayless
Writer: Joe Baur

ohio fuel cell coalition seeks to lead ohio's energy future

Pat Valente, executive director of  the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, is convinced that fuel cells are the future of energy. The OFCC is a group of industry, academic and government leaders who seek to propel Ohio into a global leadership position in fuel cell technology.
 
Ohio has a competitive advantage in fuel cell technology, says Valente. “We have the supply chain (components), a skilled workforce, and ongoing research on college campuses and in business. We like to say that every fuel cell manufactured in the U.S. has an Ohio component.”
 
Valente touts the clean energy of hydrogen fuel cells. “The only emission that comes out of the tailpipe is water vapor,” he says, referring to the use of fuel cells in vehicles.
 
But fuel cells aren’t just for cars, trucks and buses anymore. Honda is working on an advanced fuel cell that could power a conventional household for six days. Stationary fuel cells are in the works that can power a shopping center or a small community, completely off the grid.
 
In late April, Valente was preparing for the Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium, which took place from May 1st-2nd at Lorain County Community College. “We’re expecting Honda, GM, Daimler, Hundaii, and Toyota,” among others. He thinks government needs to step up with stricter emission requirements, which would further encourage the fuel cell technology.
 
With a rising middle class in China and India, Valente believes it’s just a matter of time before the oil runs out to power all those cars. “We need wind, solar, fuel cells, a little bit of everything. “


Source: Pat Valente
Writer: Catherine Podojil

etutoring program expands to cover all of ohio

Students at 21 Ohio colleges and universities can currently seek course help through an e-Tutoring program run by the Ohio Board of Regents. Next year, new funding from the Ohio Tech Consortium, eStudent services, and the Ohio State Fund will enable every student enrolled in all 107 colleges and universities in Ohio to access this service.
 
Karen Boyd, Ohio eTutoring Coordinator, says, “There are other e-Tutoring programs in the country, but Ohio is the only statewide collaborative program.”
 
According to John Charlton, Deputy Director of Communications at the Ohio Board of Regents, “Ohio is a perfect place for such a program because of our '30-mile promise.' There’s a college within thirty miles of every citizen.”
 
E-tutoring is offered in accounting, anatomy and physiology, biology, calculus, chemistry, math, and statistics. Most students also seek guidance in writing.
 
Balee Peth studies marketing and communication at the University of Toledo. She praises the friendly and quick response of her eTutor, who helped her express herself  through her writing.
 
Kyle Steele, a biomed major at Capital University, says, “Even with a science background, it helps me to get advice [with my writing]. You submit your writing and your eTutor reviews it and sends back suggestions for improvement.”
 
ETutors need not be at the same institution as the student seeking help. For example, three students in China, who currently study online at the University of Akron, use eTutoring for their papers. Next year, two of them will spend the academic year in Akron, where they will attest to the value of the eTutoring program. They will also be able to demonstrate their ability to use technology as teachers when they return to China.


Source: Karen Boyd, John Charlton, Balee Peth, Kyle Steele
Writer: Catherine Podojil

startup weekend athens is a 56 hour dash to catalyze new businesses

Jennifer Simon, Director of the Innovation Center at Ohio University, has been spending a lot of time cheering on the Bobcats lately. Yet the weekend of April 19th-21st, she'll be switching her loyalties to a different set of teams with winning potential as she cheers on the inaugural Startup Weekend Athens, a new initiative to help grow businesses.

"People come up with fantastic ideas, but when it comes to whether or not there's a customer, that's a different question," explains Simon, whose 56-hour event is part of a network of Startup Weekend events. "We'll spend the weekend on customer validation, developing a beta version of the product and testing it."

The intense, often sleep-deprived Startup Weekends are geared towards budding entrepreneurs who have a business or product idea and want help developing it quickly. Over 56 hours, would-be company founders pitch ideas, form teams, develop business plans with the help of mentoring from successful entrepreneurs, and compete for hefty cash prizes of up to $2,500 in a final competition.

Only 10 entrepreneurs will have the chance to develop their ideas. The event kicks off with 60 second pitches followed by audience voting to pick the top 10. Those entrepreneurs who are not selected can join other teams and work on building relationships with other individuals with complementary skills.

In addition to meeting other like-minded innovators, participants will be able to network with successful company founders, venture capitalists and angel investors. Startup Weekend is open to both students and professionals, and Simon says she expects some registrants to travel from outside of the area.

"This is the first time OU has done this, and it's an opportunity for us to develop deal flow," says Simon. "There is a lot more entrepreneurial activity in Athens and the surrounding area, in part thanks to additional resources from Ohio Third Frontier developed a few years ago. The pipeline has really opened up."

The Innovation Center is a 36,500 square foot incubator space. Currently, the Center is about 95 percent full. The Center for Entrepreneurship is also housed on campus, and provides a range of business clients with technical assistance. Finally, TechGROWTH Ohio, an organization funded by Ohio Third Frontier and located at OU, helps to catalyze startup businesses throughout Southeast Ohio.


Source: Jennifer Simon
Writer: Lee Chilcote

Hyperlocal funds help boost Ohio entrepreneurship

To spur economic development and create jobs in their communities, several Ohio cities have created new, hyperlocal funds that offer attractive financing to entrepreneurs that may have the next great business idea, yet lack the actual cash to implement it. The catch? They must be willing to put down roots and grow their businesses locally.

One example of a growing Ohio business that recently took advantage of such hometown love is ManuscriptTracker, a Wooster-based firm that sells web-based software that automates the peer review process for academic journals. Co-founder Brian Boyer says a $35,000 deferred-payment loan from the Wooster Opportunities Loan Fund made it possible for him to bring his product to market last year.

“We saw lots of potential to grow our business, but funding is very hard to come by for start-up software companies,” says Boyer, a Wooster native. “Thanks to receiving funding last year, we were able to develop a market version of our software, as well as sales resources such as a database, marketing collateral and potential client list.”

ManuscriptTracker’s software organizes and automates peer review tracking for busy academics that don’t have the time or resources to manage the process themselves. The stringent nature of the peer review process, particularly with scientific journals, often necessitates involving as many as 20 individuals in a single review.

“To be published in an academic journal, your work must be vetted by the research of your peers, but that means asking top researchers to set aside their time,” explains Boyer. “We simplify and organize the process and provide helpful reporting forms. We also help academics to track who in their network is quick and knowledgeable.”

With the assistance of the economic development nonprofit Jumpstart, similar hyperlocal funds have also been created in Barberton, Canton and Mansfield.

As the New Year kicked off, ManuscriptTracker had already secured one new client, and Boyer says he’s hopeful that the new software will attract additional clients soon.


By Lee Chilcote

Ohio zoos get serious about green energy, boast country's largest solar canopy

Conservation has always been a major concern for zoos, from habitat conservation to protecting animal populations with dwindling numbers. Two Ohio zoos, though, are leading the way into another branch of conservation--energy conservation.
 
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens and the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium have both made headlines in the last two years for their green technology efforts, investing millions while enlisting help from the state's green industry to become leaders in the field.
 
Over the past five years, the Cincinnati Zoo has invested $1 million in energy improvements, upgrading 73 buildings--including elevating five to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and other initiatives like switching to energy-saving LED lights for its annual holiday display.
 
The biggest splash in the Ohio zoo green movement is just starting to pay off, though. Earlier this year, the zoo completed construction on an $11 million, four-acre, 15-foot high "solar canopy" that covers 800 spaces in its parking lot. The system, billed as the largest, publicly accessible urban solar array in the country, consists of 6,400 panels that generate 1.56 megawatts--providing nearly 20 percent of the zoo's energy requirements.
 
Along with saving the zoo millions in energy costs, the project also includes education benefits. It funds 10 scholarships at Cincinnati State's Green Workforce Development Program and includes an onsite kiosk that shows the array's performance and extolls the virtue of solar energy. The zoo began using the array in April, soon after completion.
 
Melink Corp., owned by green technology activist Steve Melink, designed the structure and served as developer. It also secured the financing for the array, and will operate the array for the zoo. The Milford-based company jumped onto the "green bandwagon" early, specializing in high-efficiency restaurant exhaust systems since 1987 before moving into solar projects over the past decade.
 
Thane Maynard, executive director of the zoo, said there was no better place to showcase solar technology.
 
"As the greenest zoo in America, there is no better place to showcase this technology and to help the public understand that not only is this technology the right thing to do for our energy future," he said, "but it makes absolute financial sense as well."
 
The Cincy Zoo might have a battle on its hands for the "greenest" title, though.
 
Just up I-71, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium announced in October plans for a solar array to surpass its Cincinnati counterpart. Construction starts next year. 
 
"We're excited about the solar array," says zoo director of planning Barbara Revard. "Everything's still in the planning stages, but I think we're comfortable in saying that we think it will be somewhere between a 2.5-to-3 megawatt system."
 
Taking the lead in the project is Athens-based Third Sun Solar, one of the state's fastest-growing solar firms. Founded in 2000 by the aptly named Geoff and Michelle Greenfield and operating out of the Innovation Center at Ohio University, the company has become a regional leader in implementing solar technology. It's been named to Inc. magazine's “Inc. 5,000" for three years in a row.
 
The planned solar array isn’t the only trick in Columbus zoo's green hat, however. Three years ago, it opted to utilize geothermal technology in another of its projects, the Polar Frontier exhibit. Opening this past May, the $20 million exhibit circulates 300,000 gallons of water to a tank that serves as home to polar bears. The mostly underground system keeps the water at a constant chilled temperature, using a fraction of the energy of other options.

The zoo has also "gone green" in other areas, from pioneering use of new Flux Drive pump products that have led to a 40 percent reduction in energy costs, to recently installing "smart skylights" in one of its buildings.
 
The skylights, produced by Ciralight Global out of Corona, Calif., consist of motorized mirrors and sensors that rotate the mirrors to catch sunlight and reflect it inside, where its needed. The result is an electricity-independent, natural light source that provides better light at less cost.

"We joke that we're finding things in the warehouse that we didn't even realize were there," says Revard.
 
Columbus-based Energy Solutions Group worked with the zoo on bringing the "flux drive" and skylights into the fold.
 
Both the Cincinnati and Columbus zoos are leaders in implementing green technology, but they're far from alone. Every few months, representatives from all Ohio's zoos get together to talk about moving toward more environmentally friendly initiatives. The group, called the Ohio Zoo Green Consortium, consists of about 30 representatives from around the state, said Revard.
 
"The fun thing for us all is working together and talking about what we're doing, what's working well and what's next," said Revard. "It's our hope that we can not only share that information with other zoos in Ohio, but also serve as a model to zoos outside the state."
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