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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

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

ABSMaterials partners with College of Wooster to build model stormwater campus

ABSMaterials is partnering with the College of Wooster on a plan that aims to turn the campus into a zero stormwater discharge campus, and a model for the rest of the country.
Jenna Blankenship, Executive Assistant at ABSMaterials, says they’ll use their patented Osorb technology on the project. Engineered in 2005 by Dr. Paul Edmiston, Peterson Chair of Chemistry at the College of Wooster and co-founder of ABSMaterials, Osorb is used in water treatment applications to detect and separate contaminated molecules.
“As stormwater travels, it picks up all sorts of contaminants, including oil, pesticides, nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and household chemicals,” Blankenship explains. “As a result, the surface water becomes polluted, which causes a number of problems related to water quality and algae growth.”
Blankenship believes this is an overlooked issue, ineffectively communicated to the public considering the hundreds of millions of Americans that rely on clean surface water for their drinking water, crop irrigation and recreation. “Lake Erie, for example, provides drinking water for almost 12 million people […] but around 5 billion gallons of untreated water is discharged to the lake every year.”
ABSMaterials previously worked with the College of Wooster in 2011. A field site was constructed with an Osorb rain garden and a control garden, funded by the National Science Foundation. Blankenship counts that prior relationship as key to developing this new project, noting they recently completed a site survey to select areas where stormwater systems should be built on campus.
“The areas selected are places where there is excess stormwater runoff that needs to be managed,” she says. “We will submit a final outline of the plan to the College in February, and construction should begin a little later in the year.”
Source: Jenna Blankenship
Writer: Joe Baur

tesla nanocoatings is set to expand to new markets with help of new hires

Tesla NanoCoatings is expanding to new markets in response to growing demand from the oil and gas industry for Teslan, a corrosion control coating for structural steel developed in collaboration with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.  

"Right now we are collaborating with the Department of Defense, the world's largest aerospace manufacturers, and several of the top 10 global oil and gas producers," explains Managing Director Todd Hawkins. "They all grasp the potential and promise of our coating technology."

Hawkins adds that the grand opening of their new Research Center at Stark State College will also help them develop new applications for new markets. Details are being held due to competitive reasons, but Hawkins is happy to introduce three new management employees hired as a result of the company's growth after a successful first five years -- Michael Wright, retired Colonel Stephen Stohla and Charlie Simpson.

"Both Mike and Steve bring us a wealth of experience within the Army Facilities Command, Army Engineers and National Guard," says Hawkins, noting Stohla's extensive military background. "Charlie brings an added level of expertise to further bolster our already robust new product development process. We anticipate launch of two to three additional game-changing protective coatings in the next year."

Hawkins praises Tesla's technology, employees and partners for their continued success and growth, adding a bright forecast for their growing industry in the state. "In history, there has never been a better time or place than in Ohio now to do what we are doing."

Source: Todd Hawkins
Writer: Joe Baur

Barberton lands $1 million SBA loan in special pilot program for small business

The Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC), which serves as the city’s economic development arm, was recently tapped by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to receive a $1 million loan for small businesses in the region.
BCDC is one of only two cities in Ohio and 20 nationwide to receive $1 million SBA loans in a special two-year pilot program.

“Historically, we’ve only provided loans to companies in Barberton,” explains Scott Wagner, BCDC executive director. “With this SBA loan, we want to think more regionally since neighboring communities benefit from one another’s growth. What’s good for New Franklin is good for Barberton; what’s good for Norton is good for Barberton.”
According to Wagner, local companies seeking a loan from the new SBA fund must commit to staying and/or expanding in the region. They must also have fewer than 500 employees and demonstrate that they are an established, profitable business.

Loan amounts will vary from $10,000 to $200,000, and may be used for a host of purposes, including building construction or acquisition, equipment, furniture, fixtures, inventory or working capital.

Wagner indicated they’ve already received several applications from companies, ranging from manufacturing to customer service, in all three communities.
He believes that BCDC’s proven track record making effective loans to local small businesses, as well as their current loan portfolio, helped set them apart and give them an edge to land the SBA loan. “The competition was very intense, and we were extremely fortunate to be selected,” he says. “It’s a fantastic honor to be one of only 20 economic agencies nationwide to receive this award.”

Source:  Scott Wagner
Writer:   Lynne Meyer

jumpstart's entrepreneur expo showcases 'what's next in neo'

Developing Cleveland area businesses showed off their ideas, technologies and talents at the 2012 Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurial Expo and JumpStart Community Meeting on Tuesday, November 13 from 1 to 5:40 p.m. at CSU’s Wolstein Center.
“The theme is, ‘What’s next Northeast Ohio,’” says Samantha Fryberger, JumpStart director of communications. “The idea being, a lot of companies are really early in their development.”
The expo featured 96 area tech startups as well as 32 support organizations, such as Bizdom, Youngstown Business Incubator, Shaker LaunchHouse, Akron ARCHAngels and Ohio Aerospace Institute. Nine student companies were also featured, one of which will be presented with an award at the event’s close.
The showcase was followed by a panel discussion featuring success stories of area companies that have grown into multi-million dollar businesses. “[These are] some of the biggest success stories who have merged, sold, been bought out or exited,” explains Fryberger.
Goldman Sachs representatives talked about its 10,000 Small Businesses program, followed by an announcement of JumpStart’s newest portfolio companies.
And of course, investors were also on hand to see what the next great thing is in the region. Fryberger says 25 investors attended the event last year, and she expected the same this year.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” says Fryberger. “It’s an opportunity to network. There are some of these companies who could help each other quite a bit. And if you’re very early in development, this is your first opportunity for exposure.”

Source: Samantha Fryberger
Writer: Karin Connelly

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

tesla nanocoatings expands to stark state for future research and development on corrosion coating

Corrosion is a serious global problem of massive proportions, according to Todd Hawkins, managing director of Massillon’s Tesla NanoCoatings Limited.

In response to the problem, Tesla NanoCoatings worked with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) for five years to engineer Teslan -- a revolutionary carbon nanocoating to control corrosion.

The company recently leased 1,000 square feet of space at Stark State College’s Advanced Technology Center to conduct expanded research and development on Teslan. According to Hawkins, the product has potential applications in the aerospace, petrochemical, transportation, marine and industrial markets.

“Teslan’s foundation is fullerene, the toughest, most resilient and most effective organic protective coating developed for metals,” Hawkins explains. “It’s stronger than diamonds. One of its major characteristics is that, if damaged, it will transfer electrons to the defective site and non-corrosion will occur.”

According to Hawkins, Teslan has undergone extensive exposure and immersion testing in both fresh and sea water by the U.S. Army ERDC in various locations across the country. Other testing has been ongoing internally at NASA and Battelle as well.

“Now’s the time for expanded research and development, and we’re excited about this opportunity with Stark State,” he says. “Collaboration is vital to bringing new ideas to fruition, and we look forward to a very productive relationship with Stark State.” The company will be recruiting engineering students as interns.

The college was instrumental in Tesla NanoCoatings receiving a $100,000 startup award from the Innovation Fund, a regional fund that supports technology-based entrepreneurial endeavors and emerging businesses.

“We’re proud to welcome Tesla NanoCoatings to our campus,” says Para M. Jones, Ph.D., president of Stark State College. “Stark State is a supporting member of the Innovation Fund, and we’re very pleased Tesla NanoCoatings received a startup grant. This funding will assist them in further commercializing their groundbreaking corrosion control coating, and we look forward to their success.”

Hawkins established Tesla NanoCoatings in 2007. The company currently has five employees, and Hawkins anticipates bringing on additional employees by the end of the year.

Source:  Todd Hawkins, Para Jones
Writer: Lynne Meyer

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

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
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