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Ohio companies garner coveted listings on the 2013 Inc. 5,000

Among other Ohio companies, two Buckeye State startups have garnered coveted national recognition.

CoverMyMeds, a Twinsburg firm that makes it easier for patients to get their prescribed medications, and Plug Smart, a Columbus energy solution company, both placed in the top 300 of Inc. Magazine's 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States.
Inc. Magazine's rankings take into consideration factors such as annual growth, revenue increases and staff expansions over a three-year period. Coming in at 96, CoverMyMeds grew 3,567 percent over the designated time frame using the magazine's criteria, garnering $5.3 million in revenue as of 2012.
The company, which previously received funding from Cleveland entrepreneur accelerator JumpStart, is an online service for physicians and pharmacists that provides prior authorization services and other insurance coverage for a variety of drug plans.
Web- and phone-based tools developed by CoverMyMeds automate the submission of authorization requests, a process that when done manually can be both expensive and frustrating, says principal/CEO Alan Scantland. The company does not charge pharmacies or doctors for using the service, instead putting the onus on  drug manufacturers that need to expedite the sluggish authorization process if they want to increase sales.
Being ranked by Inc. in the top 100 - and eighth overall in the healthcare sector - "brings us immediate attention, and gives us a third-party voice of credibility while adding to our brand and positioning," says Scantland. "The distinction is also great for employees, who are getting some well-deserved recognition for their efforts."
Lightning-fast growth has also opened the door for additional business ventures, notes the company head. "It's wonderful," he says. "We’re very excited about making such an impact in healthcare."
Plug Smart made the list during its first year of eligibility thanks to over 1,500 percent in growth and $6.4 million in revenue from 2009 to 2012. The energy services company helps commercial, industrial, nonprofit and utility companies implement a broad range of energy solutions, from HVAC to lighting systems. Among its goals, the TechColumbus-incubated firm seeks to aid clients in building energy efficiency projects and leveraging renewable power resources.
Getting your company's name out there when competing with industry stalwarts like Siemens, Honeywell and Trane is no mean feat, says Plug Smart president David Zehala. In addition to its overall ranking, the company finished number 17 on the list of Top 100 energy companies, and number eight in the list's top 100 Ohio companies.
"This establishes Plug Smart as a major force within the energy services sector," Zehala says. "Our teams represent the best and brightest energy engineering minds in the industry, and our success is a testament to their ability to help our clients find creative ways to implement energy projects."

CincyTech portfolio company BioRx, which enjoyed 181 percent growth over the past three years, was also listed as one of Ohio's top 100.

More than 180 Ohio companies were included on the 2013 Inc. 5000 list, including Vertex Body Science and US Logistics, which clocked in at numbers 19 and 34, respectively.

By Douglas J. Guth

Lima manufacturing center hosts national research scientists

Three research scientists from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee were welcomed to Lima by officials of the Ohio Energy and Advanced Manufacturing Center (OEAMC). The visit came on the heels of an OEAMC trip to Oak Ridge earlier this year.
“They were very interested in some of our work,” says Judith Cowan, President of the OEAMC. Cowan was on the team that visited Oak Ridge earlier this year. “The Department of Energy was intrigued with our story and recommended that we make a trip to the DOE.”
Cowan and her team met with several key staff members from the Oak Ridge facility, including Dr. Craig A. Blue, Director of Energy Materials, Dr. Alan L. Liby, Deputy Director of the Energy Materials Program and Dr. William H. Peter of the Material Processing and Titanium Division.
The group toured several of Lima’s manufacturing plants, including the Husky Lima Refinery, the Ford Lima Engine Plant, Trinity Motor Sports’ carbon fiber lab, General Dynamics' Joint Systems Manufacturing Center and two American Trim facilities. Bio feedstocks, digital dispense printing and carbon fiber layups were among the topics of discussion.
All this, Cowan hopes, will lead to new developments between the two organizations. “We are in discussion with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists on the development of a relationship defined by specific technology projects,” she explains.
“The leaders of the ORNL were very complimentary of all the manufacturing plants they visited during their visit to Lima,” says Cowan. “Every plant we toured is involved in bringing new technologies to their facilities and to Ohio.”
Source: Judith Cowan
Writer: Joe Baur

Study: northeast Ohio's tech startups generated $270m in economic impact in 2012

An annual study conducted by Cleveland State University’s Center for Economic Development at the Levin College of Urban Affairs shows that startup companies in Northeast Ohio contribute significantly to the economy. The study surveyed tech-based companies that received assistance, either financially or in services, through JumpStart or the North Coast Angel Fund.
The 127 companies who participated in the study generated $211 million in economic benefits in Northeast Ohio in 2012, $270 million statewide. These companies helped create and retain 1,100 in-state direct jobs, with a total Ohio employment impact of 2,140. The companies and their suppliers also increased total Ohio household earnings by $125 million and contributed nearly $12 million in state and local tax impact.
As the early-stage companies grow, their impact increases, according to the study. Among those surveyed, 44 companies participated over three years -- from 2010 to 2012, showing 53 percent job growth and a 36 percent increase in economic impact over those three years.
“These numbers quantify the impact small companies made,” says Cathy Belk, JumpStart COO. “Small companies make a big difference.  It’s exciting to see the impact the companies we see every day are having. We see how hard these companies are working.”
With all of the organizations in Cleveland that support startups, in addition to support from Ohio Third Frontier, which provides funding to organizations like JumpStart, the region is ideal for new businesses.

“We continue to believe that Northeast Ohio is the best place in the country to have a small business or a new business,” says Belk. “We have such a robust ecosystem for startups and small business.”

Source: Cathy Belk
Writer: Karin Connelly

Ohio Third Frontier targets tech-based economy with new programs

Ohio Third Frontier is enhancing its commitment to innovation, adding three new programs that identify methods to move technology products to the marketplace more quickly, resulting in more jobs and a stronger tech-based economy in Ohio.
“Each one of the new programs introduced by Ohio Third Frontier has a specific focus on advancing technologies to a place where they can be profitable in the market, creating companies and job opportunities in the process,” explains Katie Sabatino, Senior Media Strategist at the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Communications. “By designing results-driven programs, Ohio’s economy will benefit and improve our foothold as a leader in innovation and advanced technology industries, which are key to our long-term success."
Requests for proposals were released in May for the following:

The Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund offers Ohio tech companies loans to assist in developing products and services where they may otherwise have difficulty securing funding due to the risks associated with developing technologies. Loans range from $500,000 to $2.5 million.

The Technology Commercialization Center program invests in new technologies with the goal of creating companies and jobs while helping businesses attract capital. Centers will commercialize research from universities, medical centers or nonprofit institutions and advance the technology into the marketplace. The program offers up to $25 million to create a center with the expectation that after four years it will be self-sustaining.

The Technology Asset Grant supports shared infrastructure projects needed to develop new technologies. Program funding can go towards facilities and/or equipment when a federal procurement agency or at least two Ohio companies believe it is critical to commercialize technology. The grant program offers up to $5 million per project for up to three years.
These programs, the state agency believes, will better streamline the flow of new technology products to the market.
“When developing and commercializing new products, roadblocks can slow the process, creating a gap where generating funding can be difficult,” Sabatino explains, adding that the new programs will help bridge the gap between funding and commercialization with the goal of impacting the Ohio economy.
Never one to rest, Sabatino says Ohio Third Frontier is always looking for new opportunities. “We are focused on continually evaluating Ohio’s strengths and growth opportunities and creating programs that benefit the state’s tech-based economy and create jobs.”
Source: Katie Sabatino
Writer: Joe Baur

Intern in Ohio program launches this week, connects students with internships

This week, Detroit-based Digerati launched its Intern in Ohio program to the public, which is sponsored by the University of Toledo. Like eHarmony, the program uses an advanced matching algorithm to match students with internship opportunities.
Intern in Ohio is free to both students who are looking for internships and businesses who want to post internships. To register, students and employers visit Intern in Ohio’s website to sign up and create a profile or post internship opportunities. Students fill out a short questionnaire about their preferences, and employers share information about the position. The system then identifies the top seven matches for each student, as well as for each position. When the match is made, both the student and employer are notified, and they must show interest before any contact information is shared.
“We encourage diverse companies—large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, government and corporate,” says Wendy Pittman, director of Digerati’s Classroom to Career. “It’s a great chance for employers to broadcast their company and internship program across the state and reach a larger pool of applicants.”
Only companies in Ohio can post opportunities to the Intern in Ohio website, but all types of internships are welcome. There are posts for marketing, engineering and social media, among others, says Pittman.
The program is open to all students who live in Ohio, whether they’re in-state or out-of-state students. Research shows that not only do internships often lead employment offers after graduation, but that students are more likely to remain in an area where they held and internship.
“This is the first replication of the Classroom to Career technology from Michigan to Ohio,” says Pittman. “Experiential learning is a game-changer; and we’re looking forward to working with smaller communities to make a difference.”
In 2011, Digerati launched its Intern in Michigan program, which has resulted in more than 127,000 matches and introductions between students and employers. Over 1,000 Michigan businesses have posted 4,824 internship opportunities, and 1,049 colleges and universities in the state use the site.
Full disclosure: hiVelocity's parent company, IMG, supplies content to Intern in Ohio on a contractual basis.
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

Advanced Energy Manufacturing Center in Lima slated to become first of its kind

When up and running, the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Center will represent a first-of-its-kind effort to make Ohio a leader in creating clean energy jobs.

A groundbreaking is planned for October for the new 20,000-square-foot Center in Lima. The center, a non-profit incubator, will initially house a flexible fabrication and robotic assembly demonstration project. It will focus on several technology clusters including design and development, sustainable energy, advanced materials, agile tooling, additive manufacturing technologies, simulation software and others.

The center is designed to create new, high tech manufacturing jobs in Ohio. The state has a history of manufacturing and innovation, but has lost some manufacturing jobs like much of the Midwest as global economic conditions have shifted. State economic development leaders and government officials in Lima see the center as way to recapture the state's manufacturing tradition by creating new manufacturing solutions and processes.

The center is backed by state and federal dollars, including $1 million the federal government awarded the project in 2009.
It's just been awarded a $457,375 state Roadwork Development Grant, and the center has applied for a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

A site for the center was chosen and secured within Lima's Ohio Job Ready Site program site located on South Main Street, says Judith Cowan, the center's president. 

Sources: Ohio Department of Development and Judith Cowan, president Ohio Advanced Energy Manufacturing Center
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

American Trim adapts to modern marketplace, plans to add 60 jobs

Adapt or die, the saying goes. And had it not been for its ability to embrace changes in the marketplace, American Trim  would be a mere footnote to history rather than a cutting-edge 60-year-old manufacturing company.

American Trim began its life as Lima Tool and Die, a family-owned company that produced appliance handles for kitchen ranges. Today, the company is a leading supplier not only for the appliance trade, but also the heavy truck industry. An eagerness to stay on top of the latest technologies has made American Trim a pioneer in the areas of electromagnetic forming, digital printing and advanced surface modification.

Currently under development is a process called physical vapor deposition. This technology is used to deposit thin film coatings onto ferrous and non-ferrous substrates. In layman's terms, it creates a "near-chrome" finish that can be used to simulate stainless steel on refrigerators, ovens, washers and dryers. In the not-too-distant future, consumers can look forward to improved durability and beauty on a wide array of household appliances.

American Trim hopes to build a new production facility that will create 60 new jobs, replacing many lost to off-shoring. This facility is expected to generate annual revenues in the $12- to $14-million range.

American Trim's adaptability has landed the company more than $10 million in grant funding from the Ohio Third Frontier Wright Projects program, which provides grants to support specifically defined near-term commercialization projects. In collaboration with Lima's Rhodes State College, the company recently unveiled the Materials Deposition Center at its Lima facilities.

Source: American Trim, http://www.amtrim.com/news.asp
Writer: Douglas Trattner

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