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New Braxton Brewing Co. will combine beer, education, technology

Evan Rouse has been brewing beer in his dad’s garage for the past six years. After a visit to Upland Brewing Co. when he was 16, he fell in love with craft beer. Evan’s success in brewing competitions caught the attention of Richard Dubé, former vice president of brewing and quality at Christian Moerlein.
 
Later this year, Evan and his brother, Jake, and father, Greg, along with Dubé, will open Braxton Brewing Co. in Covington. They will start off with local production, and then expand to other areas of the Midwest.
 
“Looking across the industry and what’s happening in Over-the-Rhine, we saw the number of craft beer fans out there,” Jake says. “We’re looking to bridge the gap between Ohio and Kentucky, and prove that the river isn’t an ocean between us.”
 
Although Evan and Dubé will handle the brewing, Jake will be behind Braxton Brewing’s digital branding, and Greg is working on the brewery’s educational approach. Jake, a manager at ExactTarget, plans to launch a mobile app that will leverage what technology can provide in the craft beer industry.
 
“We want to help revolutionize beer, and we hope this app will do that,” he says.
 
Braxton Brewing partnered with Miami University for the digital branding aspect of the company, and Neltner Small Batch worked on the company’s physical branding.
 
The group also wants to focus on educating their customers. “We want to put the customer at the center of our brewery by creating an atmosphere around craft beer and learning about craft beer,” Greg says. “We think it’s important to keep people as close to the product as possible.”
 
The brewery will be housed in an 11,000-square-foot space on Seventh Street in the Pike Street Corridor. There will be between 15-20 beers on tap at any given time, with Braxton’s core brands and rotating seasonal and specialty beers as well.
 
Evan and Dubé designed the brewery’s 20-barrel, three-vessel system, and are now working with manufacturers on the actual product.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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NKU to build Health Innovations Center

Northern Kentucky University will soon build a $97 million Health Innovations Center. Although plans for the center are still in the early stages, it will likely include classrooms and research labs.
 
The Center’s goal is to help improve the region’s health care in the short-term and help transform how medical care is delivered in the long-term.
 
St. Elizabeth’s Healthcare helped lobby for the new center, but hasn’t committed to placing clinics or other operations inside the building to cater to patients. They also haven’t said if they will pay for the programming.
 
The new center will likely include input from NKU’s Health Informatics and Big Data programs; training for nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists and other growing professions; and recruiting by innovative health care companies to link with students.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Cincinnati Public Library will open three new locations in 2015

On April 21, the The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will break ground on three new branches in Clifton, Reading and St. Bernard. The locations are expected to open spring or summer 2015.
 
All three locations will have expanded collections, computer labs, meeting/program rooms, individual study rooms, maker space and self-check stations. Staff will serve customers using mobile devices, and the buildings will be designed for energy efficiency.
 
The new Clifton branch, which will be located at 3400 Brookline Ave. in Parkside Manor, will be 10,000 square feet, and will replace the current 2,500-square-foot storefront on Ludlow. It will feature on-site parking and the library’s first outdoor lockers for after-hours hold pickups.
 
Reading’s new location will be situated on Reading Road across from Southern Avenue. The new 12,000-square-foot space will replace the current 2,000-square-foot storefront, and will have drive-up services and on-site parking.
 
The new 8,000-square-foot St. Bernard location at the intersection of Vine Street and McClelland Avenue will replace the current 2,000-square-foot space in the St. Bernard Municipal Center. Although there won’t be on-site parking, the library did purchase a nearby lot for customer parking.
 
The new branches are part of the library’s $11.7 million facilities plan.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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AlvaEDU leaves Florida, relocates to downtown Cincinnati

AlvaEDU Inc. will soon relocate from Boca Raton, Fla., to the Scripps Center downtown. The company plans to spend at least $120,000 on equipment and improvements to the space.
 
Initially, 17 employees are moving to Cincinnati, and AlvaEDU plans to add 50 new jobs over the next three years. The new jobs would add $3 million in annual payroll to the city.
 
In exchange for committing to stay in Cincinnati for 10 years, AlvaEDU is getting an income tax credit that is equal to 45 percent of the city income tax revenue from the new jobs for six years.
 
The company develops online learning programs and works to integrate technology into education.
 
AlvaEDU, which was founded in 2012 by Tim Loudermilk, has worked with 800 universities, and 1,800 of the largest companies in the world in more than 60 countries.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Easter Seals TriState partnering with Price Hill Will for Youth Build projects

This year, Easter Seals TriState is partnering with Price Hill Will for its Youth Build program. The first project and collaboration effort is a complete rehabilitation of 1017 Fisk Ave., a residential property in Price Hill, which will be put back on the market in much better shape.
 
Construction began on March 10, with a “wall breaking” event on March 14.
 
The project will provide 18 at-risk youth the opportunity to work in construction and learn pre-apprenticeship skills, while furthering their academic careers through a GED program or classes through Cincinnati State.
 
Participants will spend two days on-site and two days off, with the last day of the week reserved for their priority site—either academic, training or work site. Participants earn $8 per hour, which helps them meet their needs and provides a financial incentive for their academic progress, says Debbie Smith, VP of Education for Employment at Easter Seals TriState.
 
Youth Build is a national U.S. Department of Labor program, with more than 273 program sites across the country. Youth Build is open to men and women ages 18-24 who want to improve their lives by earning their high school diploma or GED while preparing for a career in construction or advanced manufacturing.
 
The program connects young adults to education, develops their leadership skills, provides one-on-one case management, connects them to job and apprenticeship opportunities, and builds their construction and/or advanced manufacturing skills.
 
To enroll in Youth Build, you must perform at a minimum 6th grade level in math and reading, be willing to commit to six months paid construction training, and be willing to work toward your high school diploma or GED with the goal of attending post-secondary school or training.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Life Learning Center gets new home

The Life Learning Center in Covington is moving to the old Stewart Iron Works building at the corner of Madison Avenue and 18th Street. When redevelopment is complete this summer, the Learning Center will move from its current space on 15th Street to its new location.
 
The redevelopment of the long-time vacant, blighted brownfield was made possible by a partnership among the Catalytic Fund, Corporex and the city of Covington. The city is taking care of the site's brownfield development, including installing new windows, and Corporex is redeveloping for the Learning Center.

Currently, the Learning Center is located in a 5,000-square-foot building; the Stewart Iron Works building is about 60,000 square feet, but the Learning Center is only redeveloping and occupying about 35,000 square feet.
 
When it moves in, the Learning Center will acquire the building from the city, which purchased it in 2009 with assistance from the Kenton County Fiscal Court.
 
In its new home, the Learning Center will continue to deliver its six yearly programs that target at-risk people and help them overcome employment challenges and financial obstacles, but it hopes to be able to offer the programs more often. Its holistic approach includes educational programs and other resources that help transform lives.

There will also be a child care center and fitness/wellness facility in the new Learning Center.

"We serve many single moms here, and now, they can participate in our programs and bring their kids to our on-site child care center," says Erich Switzer, the Learning Center's director of awareness and fundraising. "We've also had a lot of people request a fitness center and programs, so we're excited to be offering that too."
 
The Learning Center’s move is the last of three development projects along Madison in the last year. In October, Walgreens relocated to the corner of Madison and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/12th Street; in December, the Kentucky Career Center announced its plans to move from 4th Street to the old Robke site at 1314 Madison.
 
Both the Kentucky Career Center and the Learning Center's projects are joint results of a deal that began in 2009 and involved multiple agencies, including the city, the Catalytic Fund, and other state and federal agencies.

The Learning Center is funding the renovation through a capital campagin—$2.4 million of the $3.2 million goal has already been raised. To donate, visit the Learning Center's website or send your donation to: Life Learning Center, 315 E. 15th St., Covington, Ky., 41011.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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ArtsWave receives NEA grant for Arts Atlas project

ArtsWave recently received a $40,000 National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant to support Arts Atlas Cincinnati, an interactive, web-based geographic information system that is designed to provide a comprehensive picture of the arts assets in the region.
 
Arts Atlas was created to address the social impact metrics for the arts sector. The custom-designed GIS is intended to assist local arts constituents and standardize the measurement of the social impact of the arts. The GIS provides the capability to collect, manage, manipulate, analyze and distribute information that is geographically based to provide a better visual image of patterns and relationships.
 
The site will launch in late 2014, and will be continually updated with data gathered by ArtsWave and other local arts organizations.
 
The NEA Art Works grant supports the creation of art that meets the highest standard of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts and enhancing the livability of communities through art. The NEA received 1,528 eligible applications that requested more than $75 million in funding. ArtsWave was one of 895 nonprofit organizations to receive the grant, and one of six in Cincinnati, with a total of $23.4 million in funding overall.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Brewing Heritage Trail to highlight Cincinnati beer history

The Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail will soon begin to take shape in Over-the-Rhine and surrounding areas. The trail celebrates the city’s brewing heritage and how beer shaped Cincinnati. It won’t focus as much on craft beer, but how beer built the city and influenced economic, social and political life.
 
The trail will include signs on buildings and at right-of-ways, public artwork and a strong virtual component that visitors can access online and on smartphones and tablets, says Steve Hampton, executive director of the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation.
 
“Technology allows people to interact with the real world in many ways, and we wanted to take advantage of that with the development of the Brewing Heritage Trail and be able to tell many stories,” he says.
 
Virtual aspects will allow people to see underground spaces and buildings that no longer exist. The technological component will also allow the trail to be an evergreen attraction, possibly with a new tour every year and different featured activities.
 
The trail is primarily in OTR, but the city’s brewing heritage also extends downtown, to Clifton Heights and into the West End. There are plans to extend it out to West Chester and Sharonville as well, as many brewers have their farms out that way, Hampton says.
 
Funds for the trail came from private and public donations, including a Power2Give campaign that matched public donations two to one and the Beer Baron Ball. Support from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation has also helped make the trail a reality.
 
“We want the trail to bring two things to the city,” Hampton says. “We want to honor and celebrate Cincinnati’s heritage, and brewing heritage is a big piece of it. The trail is also an economic development tool, much like the Freedom Trail in Boston. The trail will give purpose and identity to the neighborhoods, and bring visitors there that will support small businesses and spend money at local establishments.”
 
The trail is still in the pre-development phase, and the final concept will be revealed in January.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool focuses on neighborhoods' strengths

The Community Building Institute recently partnered with Xavier University and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati to develop and launch the Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool. It’s an online resource that allows all 52 Cincinnati neighborhoods to create a profile of community-based assets and resources in the area.
 
NAT was made available to the public this spring,and was in development for six to eight months before that. It’s free, and it promotes engagement and resource-sharing among residents. Residents can add assets to NAT, and they’re immediately available to other users.
 
“If you’re new to the community or thinking of moving to a neighborhood, you can find what’s going on there,” says Trina Jackson, program director of the Community Building Institute. “You can find community councils and neighborhood associations. Lots of people don’t know about grassroots organizations, and Nat allows residents to connect with one another through smaller organizations.”
 
The United Way helps support community development and community-based organizations, and NAT is the community engagement arm for Xavier, Jackson says. “We were focused on getting people connected with each other, and helping them see what’s out there.”
 
For example, in Evanston, many people know about the employment resource center. But if you’re not from the neighborhood, you don’t necessarily know it’s there, so you turn to the computer or your phone to find the things you need.
 
NAT focuses on a neighborhood’s strengths, and doesn’t include crime data or vacant property statistics. It's intened to be used by new and potential residents, entrepreneurs and developers as a tool to help find the best locations to live, work and play.
 
The Community Building Institute plans to host a series of “data entry parties” where people can get together and enter assets into NAT and learn new things about the neighborhood they live in. The first one is planned for Walnut Hills, but the date is to be determined.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Gateway Tech receives $100,000 grant for Urban Metro Campus

Gateway Community and Technical College recently received a $100,000 grant from Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trusts, Fifth Third Bank, trustee, for its Urban Metro Campus. Gateway is in the early stages of a more than $80 million development in downtown Covington.
 
Plans for Gateway’s expansion have been in the works for more than 12 years. The Urban Metro Campus is intended to make college education more accessible to residents of Northern Kentucky who live in urban river cities. Northern Kentucky is home to many high-tech jobs, and many residents can’t compete for those jobs due to lack of education.
 
Gateway announced its comprehensive plan in Nov. 2012, which involves the purchase of nine properties for the Urban Metro Campus. Phase 1 is underway, with the renovation of the former Marx Furniture store into the Gateway Design and Technology Center.
 
Three other facilities will also be renovated and occupied by Jan. 2015, with other properties to follow. In all, seven existing buildings will be renovated and one new facility will be built over the next three to six years.
 
To date, Gateway has raised more than $2.6 million of a $5 million initial amount set by the Gateway Foundation to support campus development and scholarships. The college has also supported development with $350,000 for its campus master plan and $10 million for Phase 1 development costs.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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WIN helps make South Cumminsville walkable, increases home ownership

Working in Neighborhoods was one of 12 organizations selected by the Project for Public Spaces to receive technical assistance from the Walkable & Livable Communities Institute, which is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WIN is currently working to make the Beekman-Elmore corridor of South Cumminsville more walkable, livable, healthy and welcoming.
 
In South Cumminsville, only one in four people own or have access to a car, so crosswalks are vital to the community. But people had problems getting across the street in front of Wayne Park, where the crosswalk signals were too short. With a simple change in signal duration, it’s now easier for people to cross the street, says Marilyn Evans, president of the South Cumminsville Community Council.
 
WIN is also working to increase home ownership in South Cumminsville. The neighborhood has a 54 percent home ownership rate, which is high for the city of Cincinnati, where the average is 32 percent.
 
“WIN has had the opportunity to redevelop sections of the neighborhood into different housing options,” says Sister Barbara Bush, executive director of WIN. “We purchased an old church and converted the school into 18 senior housing units. It helped bring seniors into the community and opened up a housing option for the seniors who already lived here.”
 
The organization also provides education for homebuyers on everything from how to start saving for a house to how to secure a loan. And it's the second largest foreclosure prevention organization in the county. To date, WIN has educated about 300 families on buying a house and helped about 600 families from losing their home. WIN has also been dabbling in green efforts since the ‘70s, teaching homeowners how to be more energy efficient.
 
WIN partners with the South Cumminsville Community Council on an after-school program for kids; they also offer an on-site summer camp. There are plans to increase the recreation facilities at Wayne Park, and possibly put in a walking track and splash ground, Evans says.
 
“We’re also trying to combat the lack of healthy food options in South Cumminsville,” Sister Barbara says. “The neighboring communities of Northside and Camp Washington both recently lost their grocery stores, and it’s becoming harder for residents to get to healthy food.”
 
Closing the Health Gap came in and is looking at a healthy store program along Beekman. There’s also a community garden at the corner of Roll and Ralston, and it’s become an opportunity to educate kids about fruits and vegetables.  
 
“WIN has helped us come together, work together and stay on the same page as a neighborhood,” Evans says. “There are so many different opportunities for people to come in and make changes. Without WIN, it wouldn’t be possible for us to uplift our neighborhood.”
 
WIN is a comprehensive community development corporation, and is active in three Cincinnati neighborhoods—South Cumminsville, Northside and College Hill. It has rehabbed homes in Spring Grove Village, Elmwood Place and the West McMicken area of Over-the-Rhine. WIN will celebrate its 35th anniversary in November.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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UC tech accelerator moves to Short Vine

The University of Cincinnati’s Technology Commercialization Accelerator recently opened at its temporary space on Short Vine. The accelerator’s permanent home at 2630 Vine Street is undergoing renovations, and is expected to be ready next year.
 
The move is due to a partnership between the accelerator and SV ARX, LLC, a Short Vine development group. The collaboration began with the signing of a memorandum of understanding in early 2012 when the accelerator was launched.
 
The accelerator, which was founded to bridge the gap between early-stage technology and investment dollars, focuses on identifying promising, early-stage technologies; assessing technologies to determine viable startup company opportunities; developing commercialization strategies; and facilitating the work necessary to move technology toward commercialization. It offers a number of services, including a number of highly experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence, early-stage grant funding for commercialization, and now, a workshop for teams to meet and further develop concepts.
 
The accelerator has committed $160,000 in awards to four promising projects led by UC investigators. Funding for the accelerator comes from Ohio’s Third Frontier Entrepreneurial Signature Program, UC’s partnership with CincyTech, UC’s 2019 Entrepreneur Grant funds and other outside sources.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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UC Taft Center moves into Edwards One, increases exposure

This year, the University of Cincinnati’s Taft Center has a new home in Edwards One. Since 2005, the Center had previously been housed across the street in a building that was primarily a dorm. The new facility is on street level and user-friendlier because it is more visible to the public.  
 
The 5,228-square-foot facility includes offices for the Center’s director, financial administrator and program coordinator, plus four new offices for the Center’s fellows and an office for a contemporary Spanish playwright who is visiting for a semester. There is also a seminar room, projection facilities, a lecture room, two conference rooms and a foyer for social events.
 
“One of my goals as director is to try to raise the visibility of the Center in Cincinnati, as well as on a national and international level,” says Adrian Parr, director of the Center. “I want to get the public involved. This location is more inviting and easily accessible to the people of Cincinnati.”
 
The Taft Center was established to support and enhance interdisciplinary and disciplinary work that is committed to the development of ideas and critical thinking. The Center sponsors speakers, conferences, symposia and interdisciplinary research groups, with events open to the public. Its main goal is to raise the profile of the humanities for the public good.
 
“We want to create more streams of public programming, and align ourselves with other entities to work together to bring events to the area, and create more civic engagement, which is at the core of the humanities,” Parr says.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Three Rivers School awarded grant from Bengals, NFL, LISC for football complex

On August 30, Three Rivers School received a $200,000 grant from the Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to help build a new football complex. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2014.
 
The current field at Taylor High School, which is a natural turf field, is more than 75 years old. The stadium’s lighting is affixed to old wooden electric poles, and its aluminum and concrete bleachers seat only about 1,200 people. The site of the new field is an abandoned water well field that had been vacant for more thab a decade before Three Rivers leveled it and raised it out of the floodplain as part of the construction of the new school.
 
Three Rivers’ new field will allow for expanded use for all of the school’s football teams, soccer teams and the high school band. The school will also use the field for gym class, and it will be available for community youth football, cheerleading and soccer programs.
 
The cost of the project will be paid for entirely by private funds—the Three Rivers’ administration, staff, booster organizations and community leaders have formed the Fields of Dreams campaign to privately raise money for first-class competitive athletic facilities at the new Three Rivers School.
 
The sports complex consists of the football stadium with turf, lights, a track, concession stands, locker facilities and restrooms, plus a soccer stadium, baseball stadium, softball stadium and practice fields. The campaign has already raised $360,000 to go toward the remaining cost of installing the field’s synthetic turf.
 
Total estimates for the project range from $4.3 to $7.7 million, depending on the features and quality of the complex. The football stadium will cost between $2.31 and $3.72 million; the soccer stadium between $480,000 to $1.07 million; and the baseball and softball stadium between $610,000 to $1.26 million.
 
The NFL Grassroots Program, which is a partnership between the NFL Foundation and LISC, has resulted in the construction or renovation of 256 football fields nationwide since 1998. In the past 10 years, the NFL Youth Football Fund has granted more than $32.5 million to revitalize sports fields in underserved neighborhoods.
 
If you would like to donate to the football field, visit the Fields of Dreams website.  
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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The New School Montessori opens new Enrichment Center, expands programming

Last week, a new building opened its doors to the 125 students of The New School Montessori. The Enrichment Center will house TNSM’s dance, music, art and foreign language programs.
 
Renovations began on the 4,000-square-foot center, which was formerly a house, last October. It was once owned by a TNSM parent and later purchased by the school to expand its programming. The Enrichment Center is now the third building on campus, which includes an 1800s Victorian mansion, built by furniture manufacturer Robert Mitchell, and a converted chapel.
 
Very little was done to the building’s structure, says Eric Dustman, director of TNSM. A small addition was added on to create an atrium for the second floor, which lets in lots of natural light for art classes.
 
Additional spaces in the Enrichment Center will enhance TNSM’s extended-day program with quiet nooks for homework. There is also meeting space, and the Enrichment Center is available for community activities.
 
“We’re constantly looking to improve our programs and make them better,” Dustman says. “We’re interested in educating the whole child, and we firmly believe in the arts, freedom of expression, imagination and creativity. We believe kids should be exposed to these things and celebrate them.”
 
Current TNSM families, staff, alumni and friends have been pledging support to the school’s Deep Roots, Strong Branches capital campaign. The campaign is a multiphase process that will later include additional upgrades to the historic Mitchell Mansion and the Annex.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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