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Downtown Cleveland Alliance hosts first all-Ohio BID conference

As millenials, empty nesters and other demographic groups flock to downtowns across Ohio, business improvement districts -- or BIDs -- are playing an important role in ensuring that these areas are clean and safe and that residents, office workers and property owners have the amenities they need to thrive.

A business improvement district is a defined area within which property owners pay an additional tax to fund projects and services that enhance the area. Downtown Cleveland has a BID, and the organization provides basic "clean and safe" services, organizes events and markets downtown to prospective residents, visitors and businesses.

This week, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, which manages the downtown BID, organized the first all-Ohio BID conference, bringing together BID leaders from across the state to network and learn about issues they share in common.

"It came from the idea that there's not a unifying organization or conference for BIDs," says Anna Beyerle with DCA. "We can learn a lot from other BIDs across Ohio. The idea was to get in the same room and throw out ideas and best practices."

Topics included food truck legislation, downtown transportation, farmers markets, placemaking, and office and retail recruitment strategies.

Participants also enjoyed several tours of downtown Cleveland and the surrounding area and had a chance to learn from Cleveland's redevelopment.

Beyerle says the conference will help BIDs, such as the one in downtown Cleveland, to become more effective. "We're up for renewal in a couple years, and we're looking at how we can improve."

Source: Anna Beyerle
Writer: Lee Chilcote

Cincy's Short Vine is long on opportunity

Cincinnati business owners in the Corryville neighborhood are eyeing big opportunities on Short Vine.

Bogart’s, the street's music venue, has already renovated its bathrooms and dressing rooms, and added a smoking patio with a fire pit behind the building. There are plans to add another bar, renovate the upstairs bar for VIPs and hire a mixologist. Bogart’s was also recently acquired by Live Nation, which has made ticketing easier for concertgoers.  
“We’re getting more artists than ever before. They’re thrilled by the changes made to the building and can’t wait to come back,” says Karen Foley, Bogart’s general manager.

In 2013, 14 buildings on Short Vine, including Bogart’s, will receive money from the Cincinnati Neighborhood Business District Association for façade improvements. And by the end of 2015, the street will be completely transformed, with new businesses (including Taste of Belgium, Caribe Carryout, Mio's Pizzeria and The 86 Club), a new Kroger Marketplace, new developments and finished streetscapes.

In the next three years, Uptown Rental Properties will add about 1,000 new residential bedrooms on Short Vine, says Dan Schimberg of Uptown Rental. And on Sept. 24, its newest property, Views on Vine, a five-story apartment complex complete with clock tower, will open.
“It’s been fun to see what has already happened, but we’re only in the beginning stages of what will be created,” says Schimberg.
Beginning in December, Short Vine will see new streetscapes, bringing a bit of nostalgia to the area. Short Vine will look like it did in the 1800s—think cobblestone streets, rolling curbs and antique streetlamps. Changes will be made to parking as well, including efforts to preserve on-street parking, and additional parking for the public and residents. Sidewalks will also be widened for outdoor dining.
“It’s great to see the enthusiasm of the business owners over the progress on Short Vine,” says Foley. “The best thing is that Short Vine will now be part of the college experience at UC.”
Short Vine will be hosting several events during the next few months, including a Welcome Back Weekend for students on Aug. 30 and a block party on Oct. 12, which will include shutting down the whole street for outdoor music, street vending and a rock wall. Corryville held its first farmers market this summer, and it will continue to operate every third Sunday through October.

By Caitlin Koenig

Cincinnati Innovates teams with EPA to offer Water Challenge, cash prizes

The region's fifth annual Cincinnati Innovates competition comes with a federal twist, a global challenge and a $10,000 prize opportunity.

By partnering with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Innocentive, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District and Northern Kentucky's Sewer District 1, the newly announced Water Challenge competition focuses on the development of low-cost, low-maintenance sensors able to monitor sewer overflows. 

Sewer overflows, which spill untold gallons of raw sewage into waterways after heavy rainfalls, remain a major challenge for cities and a major barrier to compliance with Clean Water Act regulations. Cincinnati Innovates founder Elizabeth Edwards explains this first-ever Cincinnati Innovates/government initiative:

Why is the sewer system ripe for innovation and why Cincinnati?
Cincinnati, like many other major metros, is faced with major infrastructure improvement costs to maintain our 100-plus-year-old sewer system.

Is this the first time you've partnered with a governmental agency and what do you think that signals? Why do you think the EPA is reaching out to basically "crowd source" innovations in how we handle water overflows?
This is the first time Cincinnati Innovates has partnered with a government agency.

The EPA's Water Research Lab here in Cincinnati is one of the largest in the world. This partnership is just another example of the EPA's efforts to commercialize water technologies in the region.

Contests spur innovation. The EPA's partnership with Innocentive and Cincinnati Innovates is just one way the EPA is sourcing innovation.

How did this partnership come about and what was the process?
We've been working for several months together with Innocentive to create a prize and a process that makes sense. In defining the prize, we worked with water utility experts on both sides of the river.

What impact could this competition, and the products it support, have on the people of Cincinnati--and beyond?
This competition could save Cincinnati and cities like it millions of dollars a year - and improve safety and water quality. 

The competition is open and online now.

By Elissa Yancey

Northeast Ohio company praised as leader in Rust Belt's "green renaissance"

In a recent GreenBiz story, Megatrends: The power behind Eaton’s global green growth, writer Anna Clark explores Cleveland’s history as a major manufacturing center since the time of John D. Rockefeller and its subsequent decline. 
But one of the city’s largest companies, Eaton Corp., is a proponent for efficiency, reliability, safety, and sustainability that is leading to a potential “green renaissance” in the Rust Belt.
The company has built a larger campus to focus on more growth locally.  Their commitment to green initiatives was a primary focus during the initial build.
“Consistent with Eaton's commitment to sustainability, the new building was designed to consume 40 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than a conventional building of smaller scale. The rainwater reuse system is expected to significantly cut water consumption, and a high-efficiency glass-curtain wall system maximizes the use of daylight while optimizing thermal comfort within interior spaces. Eaton Center eventually will accommodate more than 1,000 of the 1,800 Cleveland-area employees, and is expected to earn its LEED certification within the next few months,” notes Clark.

Cleveland's HealthLine seen as transportation model

Cleveland's new Regional Transit Authority HealthLine transformed a 46-minute trip along the nine-mile corridor into a route with its own reserved lanes, and through traffic lights that are programmed to give the busses priority. Fares are paid via vending machines at the 40 stops along the route.

The innovative approach to urban transportation has not gone unnoticed in neighboring Pennsylvania.

Writer Jon Schmitz praises Cleveland for its dedicated route that connects downtown with the Cleveland Clinic in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story, Cleveland’s HealthLine bus route could be a model for Pittsburgh.
“The $197 million project literally remade Euclid Avenue, replacing ancient underground infrastructure and crumbling sidewalks, reconstructing the road surface, adding station kiosks and landscaping medians between the stops.”
Schmitz goes on to detail other aspects that make the line a benefit to both riders and the surrounding community.

"The organization aggressively assembled land, removed blighted buildings and developed stringent zoning in anticipation of improved transit in the corridor," notes Schmitz.

Urban CLE entrepreneur set to break ground on first-ever biocellar

Mansfield Frazier, the entrepreneurial mastermind behind the improbable Chateau Hough vineyard at E. 66th and Hough, says he will break ground on the world's first biocellar this year. He's raised more than half of the $100,000 needed to complete the experimental, innovative project.

"This is about growing crops in the wintertime," says Frazier. The biocellar, which has been described as a passive solar greenhouse, will consist of a glass structure built on top of the basement of a demolished home. "We plan to grow mushrooms because they're $12 a pound, an acre yield higher than anything else. This is about renewing neighborhoods, reusing buildings and creating wealth in the inner city."

"The biocellar is based on two concepts," Frazier explains of the glass-topped structure developed by permaculture designer Jean Loria. "One is a root cellar, which has been around thousands of years, and the other is a greenhouse. It's basically taking a greenhouse structure and putting it on top of a root cellar."

Frazier says that he hopes to break ground in July so that the biocellar will be completed by fall. The two- to three-month build-out will be handled by Don Lasker of ALL Construction, and Frazier will also employ a lot of neighborhood residents and guys from a local halfway house. The biocellar was designed by Arkinetics.

Funding sources include local council people, storm water management funding from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and a local angel investor.

"We're budgeting $100,000 for the first one, but hopefully the cost will go down once we know what we're doing," says Frazier. "We know the science is there."

Source: Mansfield Frazier
Writer: Lee Chilcote

Greener Portions Aquaponics now open for business in Cincy

Greener Portions Aquaponics, Cincinnati’s newest source of locally grown produce using aquaponics, is now open for business in Covedale.

Aquaponics is a growing method that utilizes, in Greener Portions’ case, channel catfish to produce nutrient-rich byproducts that are circulated through the plant’s root systems to be filtered out and pumped back into the fishtank. The circular cycle has been used longer than any of us have been around.

Started by Mary Ann Brinkmeyer and her fiancé Casey Miller,  Greener Portions not only has the capability to provide fresh, locally grown produce on a regular basis, but will occasionally have fish on the menu once they need to change the ranks, so to speak.

Produce will be available for purchase on both individual and wholesale scales.

At this time, Greener Portions has a 2,000-square-foot growing operation, where they are currently growing heirloom tomatoes, coastal star romaine lettuce, bell peppers, wheat grass, cilantro, Genovese basil, parsley and more. Future plans are to harvest strawberries, cucumbers, kale and heirloom orange tomatoes.

The business started as a hobby for the couple, but they quickly realized it  had potential far beyond feeding themselves. With a grand opening  now under their  belts, Greener Portions is confident business will grow as steadily as their produce.

Find out more about Greener Portions Aquaponics here.

Blue Ash's BCM Ink turns waste product into award-winning packaging ink

Two companies on opposite sides of the Ohio River collaborated to create an award-winning ink product that's made from recycled materials.

BCM Inks of Blue Ash and Close the Loop of Hebron, Kentucky, created a process that turns leftover ink from consumer printer cartridges into an ink that can be printed on cardboard packaging—in industry terms, corrugated printing. The ink is called Post Consumer Recycled Black, and was introduced to the market last fall.

The new product won a gold award at the 25th DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation in the Innovation and Sustainability category. Other gold-winning brands in the same category were Campbell’s Soup Company, Heinz, Pepperidge Farm, Unilever and Gillette. The prestigious international award recognizes industry innovation and collaboration.

BCM Inks is a 25-year-old company that provides inks, services and products to the corrugated printing industry. Close the Loop USA recycles toner and ink jet cartridges. The Hebron facility opened in 2007.

"When people bring their ink cartridges to be recycled, up to 13 percent of the ink is still in the cartridge," says BCM Inks' Vice President Rob Callif. "Close the Loop was recycling the cartridge but extracting and collecting the ink. They didn't know what to do with it. So we took the leftover ink and developed a way to turn it into a water-based black ink that can be used in corrugated printing."

PCR Black saves over 200,000 ink jet cartridges from the landfill for every 450-pound drum of ink made, Callif says.

The entry was reviewed, judged and selected by a 10-member panel of independent packaging industry experts. The award was announced May 16 at the DuPont Awards Banquet in Wilmington, Delaware.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Five Cincinnati Uptown organizations receive awards for community commitment

Earlier this month, members of Cincinnati's Uptown community gathered for the Uptown Business Celebration, presented by Uptown Consortium and Uptown Rentals/North American Properties. Five Uptown organizations walked away with awards for business excellence and commitment to the community.
In order to be eligible for an award, businesses demonstrated strong commitment to the Uptown community, success in meeting the organization’s mission and sustainable businesses practices. They also encouraged others to follow their lead. Awards were given in five categories: Small Nonprofit of the Year (25 of fewer employees), Large Nonprofit of the Year (more than 25 employees), Community Champion, Small Business of the Year (50 or fewer employees) and Large Business of the Year (50 or more employees).
The Small Nonprofit award went to the Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation and Large Nonprofit to Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center. Avondale resident and avid volunteer Patricia Milton won the Community Champion award; the Small Business award went to UC's DuBois Bookstore; and the Large Business award to Uptown Rental Properties.
Keynote speaker Benjamin Carson, Sr., M.D., who overcame poverty and a difficult childhood, is currently a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has directed the pediatric neurosurgery program at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for more than 25 years. Carson's many awards include 60 honorary doctorate degrees and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor.
Carson encouraged those at the awards ceremony to “elevate themselves” to make things better. He also shared his philosophy of success, which is “THINK BIG—talent, honesty, insight, nice, knowledge, book, in-depth learning and God.”
Uptown neighborhoods are Avondale, Clifton, Corryville, Clifton Heights, Fairview, University Heights and Mt. Auburn.
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

UC researchers develop smarter, solar-powered water filter

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed tiny, solar-powered water filters that target and remove carcinogens and antibiotics from lakes and streams.

These protein-based filters are smaller in diameter than a human hair, and work differently than current surface water filters that are made of activated carbon. Those carbon filters work much like the ones in home water filtration systems.

"In Cincinnati, we have one of the largest activated carbon treatment facilities in the United States," says David Wendall, a faculty researcher and environmental engineering professor at UC. "But what the current filters do is bind a lot of different [non-dangerous] compounds; it will will coat the filter very quickly."

UC's research was published in the "Nano Letters" journal. It showed the new filters absorbed 64 percent surface water antibiotics, compared to 40 percent absorbed by current filtering technology.

The research is important because there is growing scientific evidence of harmful effects of the hormones and antibiotics that work their way into our lakes and streams.

"We're starting to understand that birth control is feminizing fish, and antibiotics promote resistance in certain organisms," says Wendall. "It's what is contributing to superbugs that resist to antibiotic treatment. We're learning more about what happens when we dump antibiotics into the environment."

Generally, the contaminates arrive in waterways from runoff through farms or when we flush or trash our medicines.

"The main sources are from farms," Wendall says. "They put antibiotics in animal feed so they will grow fast and stay healthy. But some of their waste ends up in the rivers as runoff, where [the antibiotics] don't break down, and it ends up contaminating our water."

The filter at UC was developed in 2010. Testing has proven successful in specifically targeting antibiotics and other harmful materials.

Wendall describes the filters as "selective garbage disposals." Filtering ability is fueled by sunlight, and the filters actually preserve antibiotics in a way that famers can reuse if filters are recovered.

The university's research is continuing to be tested and refined, Wendall says. But current work could be used practically in three to five years.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Proposal could boost solar panel manufacturing, reduce Cincy's carbon footprint

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls introduced a motion that could change the way residents and businesses pay for powering their spaces with solar energy.

She says the benefits are two-fold -- increasing the demand for solar panel manufacturing and lowering the city's reliance on fossil fuels.

This plan is one of several energy-saving initiatives introduced since City Council adopted the Green Cincinnati Plan in 2008. That plan included a goal of one in every five Cincinnati buildings incorporating rooftop panels fueled by solar power by 2028.

"There's an emerging solar manufacturing sector here, and we would be creating a financing mechanism that would allow the demand to emerge for solar energy," Qualls says. "It's not a viable option for many property owners right now."

Qualls introduced a measure that directs the city to look into working with local environmental organizations like Green Umbrella, the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to help create a Property Assisted Clean Energy, or PACE, financing program.

PACE programs is a public/private initiative that are enabled by legislatures in nearly three dozen states across the country—including Ohio—which help business and homeowners pay for energy upgrades to existing buildings. Typically, participating property owners can finance those upgrades as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years.

"It's tax neutral, promotes 'going green' and reduces our carbon footprint," Qualls says.

The city has used the property tax assessment mechanism before for property owners who have been responsible for other large fixes, Qualls says.

"It has been done to pay for costly repairs over time—that's the same principle PACE follows," she says.

Ohio passed its PACE law in 2009. In 2012, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority issued the first PACE bonds in Ohio for a project to upgrade the City of Toledo’s municipal buildings.

Cincinnati must pass its own legislation for a local PACE program. Quall's motion directs the administration to bring the legislation back to Council within 60 days.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Nortech honors seven companies at annual innovation awards

NorTech celebrated seven Northeast Ohio companies last week at its 13th annual NorTech Innovation Awards. The companies were recognized for developing new technologies that contribute to the economic success of the region.
“Innovation is critical in sustaining U.S. competitiveness, especially in this constantly changing global marketplace,” says NorTech CEO Rebecca Bagley. “We want to really highlight these innovations. Our goal is to create jobs, attract capital and generate a long-term economic impact in the region.”
The awards were given out in six categories: advanced energy; advanced materials; biosciences; flexible electronics; instrumentation, controls and electronics; and water technologies.
Local companies honored include Quasar Energy Group, which paired with Forest City Enterprises to build an anaerobic digestion facility on a brownfield in Collinwood. The facility, known as Collinwood BioEnergy, takes organic waste and turns it into electricity for Cleveland Public Power.
The system generates 1.3 megawatts of electricity per day and saves 42,000 wet tons of trash from landfills each year. Quasar has created more than 60 Ohio jobs with this technology.
Cardioinsight, formed by a CWRU professor and two engineering students, was honored for its development of a lightweight vest that aids in the diagnosis and treatment of electrical disorders in the heart. Cardioinsight paired with Nottingham Spirk to design and develop the vest.
“It’s a great partnership,” says Bagley. “They have a prototype that works and is also comfortable for the patient.”
Cleveland HeartLab, a spinoff from the Cleveland Clinic, developed clinical tests for myeloperoxidase, which is a plaque in the blood that indicates patients’ risks for heart attacks. Cleveland HeartLab has created more than 100 jobs since its start in 2010 and revenue has grown by 100 percent each year.
Other companies honored were NASA Glen Research Center, Akron Surface Technologies, Codonics and SNS Nano Fiber Technology.

Source: Rebecca Bagley
Writer: Karin Connelly

CSU wind power co. wins clean energy challenge, heads to chicago for regionals

For the second year in a row, Amplified Wind Solutions competed in the Ohio Clean Energy Challenge. This year the company won $10,000 and a trip to Chicago for a chance to win $100,000 in the Midwest competition.

Amplified Wind Solutions has designed a wind amplification system that can produce up to six times more electricity than a typical wind turbine. The company is targeting the telecommunications industry.
AWS CEO and co-founder Niki Zmij had eight minutes to present the company to the competition judges. They were the second company to present, but Zmij felt prepared and that she answered the judges’ questions well. Apparently, she was right.
“The winner was not to be announced until the awards reception at the very end of the day, but during our judges’ feedback session they decided to tell us early that we had won,” says Zmij. “They said our presentation really set the bar for the entire day, and wanted to ask us to present again at the awards ceremony so the other teams could hear our pitch. It was such a huge compliment.”
AWS is a Cleveland State University company co-founded in February 2012 based on technology invented by Majid Rashidi, chair of CSU’s engineering technology department. Other company members include Terry Thiele, director of sustainable product strategies at Lubrizol Corporation and Jon Stehura, financial manager at Laird Technologies and former CFO of Park Ohio.
The company has prototypes at CSU and Progressive Field. They have now completed designs for a third prototype, and Zmij is in discussions with several telecom companies about installing the pilot model on their towers. They are also looking for a manufacturing partner. Zmij predicts AWS will be ready for commercial sale in 2014.
If AWS wins the Midwest challenge in Chicago, the company will proceed to the national competition, for a chance to win an additional $100,000.
Zmij will earn her MBA in August and will stay with AWS full-time. “I'm fairly certain the entrepreneurial bug has given me the entrepreneurial virus,” she says. “I don't anticipate it going away any time soon.”

The company anticipates hiring additional staff in the third quarter of this year.

Source: Niki Zmij
Writer: Karin Connelly

university of akron invests in additional solar arrays

The University of Akron is investing in more solar panels as part of the school’s commitment to comply with a pending energy bill to cut 20-percent of all consumed energy by 2014.
The project comes at the end of Akron’s search for a project with high visibility that required little to no infrastructure changes while making a noticeable impact the school’s sustainability habits. “This new array will offset one percent of all energy consumed and nearly five percent of our demand profile during peak grid congestion,” explains Ralph Morrone, Manager of University Sustainability.
Akron’s investment is a marked improvement on the campus’ lone 28KW array. Morrone says the new array is 650KW – more than 23 times the installed capacity. “The existing array is barely enough to light one floor of the building that it currently resides atop,” quips Morrone, adding the initial project was created simply to promote the technology.
The project is also a win for nearby Carbon Vision, a Shaker Heights-based renewable energy analysis and project development firm that won the bid to produce Akron’s solar arrays. Carbon Vision offered the “turnkey solution” for the university’s needs, including a plan to design, fund, install, and maintain the solar array at their cost for the duration of the contract and Power Purchase Agreement. “The only cost to the university during the contract is the cost of power generated from the array, which will be entirely consumed by the university’s electrical demand on its internal electrical grid,” says Morrone, who will be working with Carbon Vision to ensure their contract is met and that the project is properly coordinated.
For Morrone, the solar arrays project is also an investment in education, illustrating to current and future students that the university is “committed to thinking outside of the box to employ new strategies to lessen our burden on the environment and its carbon footprint.” He concludes, “In allowing students to see, touch, and measure the capabilities of green and energy producing technologies, the University of Akron is directly influencing students’ experiences and further enriching skillsets needed to compete in a global and technologically advanced labor market.”
Source: Ralph Morrone
Writer: Joe Baur

flydrive's regenerative braking flywheel replaces battery in hybrid, electric cars

What started as a design project in CWRU mechanical and aerospace engineering student Kristen Brouwer’s senior design class has evolved into a full-blown business. Brouwer and three of her classmates took an existing patent for a regenerative braking flywheel and created FlyDrive, which makes a flywheel that replaces the battery in electric and hybrid cars. They are bringing their flywheel to market.

“In a Prius, for instance, when you brake, the electric motors are charged, which then charge the battery,” says Brouwer. “With our flywheel, it’s just as efficient in returning energy and doesn’t have to be replaced. And it’s environmentally better than batteries because it doesn’t use chemicals.”
Brouwer and teammates Jordan Lajoie, Luke Voigt, Kris Bosma and Cleveland Institute of Art industrial design student Adam Lauser have been developing the flywheel for market since September. “Most of our developments have stemmed from market identification and development as well as creating a preliminary concept for implementing the flywheel in a transportation system,” says Brouwer.

FlyDrive will be competing in the Ohio Clean Energy Challenge semi-finals next week, where they will compete for $10,000 and the chance to move on the Midwest regional competition in Chicago. The company has been assessing licensing options in the meantime.

“We’re waiting to see if we make it to the next level of competition,” says Brouwer. “It’s been a great learning experience.”

Source: Kristen Brouwer
Writer: Karin Connelly

This story was originally published in Fresh Water Cleveland, hiVelocity's sister publication in Northeast Ohio.
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