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Reds kick off 2014 season by adding Taste of Belgium and local craft beers

In Cincinnati, April doesn’t only bring showers, it brings baseball (we’ve had a lot of both already). But for the 2014 baseball season, the Cincinnati Reds have announced new partnerships to bring some of the city’s best new local flavors to Great American Ballpark.
 
As of Opening Day last week, Taste of Belgium announced its status as “the Official Waffle of the Cincinnati Reds.” Reds fans will now be able to enjoy a few of the sweet and savory items that have made Taste of Belgium a fixture of the local food scene since its beginnings at Findlay Market.
 
“We’ve been making waffles all over town at all kinds of events, so this was not only a logical next step for us, but a tremendous opportunity,” says Taste of Belgium owner Jean-Francois Fletchet. “We are honored to be counted among the Cincinnati brands supported by Great American Ballpark.”
 
Featured menu items at the stadium include waffles with chocolate or strawberry toppings, Belgium fries and a waffle 'n' chicken.
 
“We like to be playful with our menu,” Fletchet says. “Since Cincinnatians aren’t as familiar with traditional Belgian fare, we look for interesting combinations of things they know and things they don’t, like our waffle and chicken, which has become a signature dish.”
 
Taste of Belgium’s signature waffle joins the ranks of longtime Cincinnati favorites, such as LaRosa’s Pizzeria and Skyline Chili, signifying yet another step on the part of the Reds to embrace Cincinnati’s evolving food and beverage culture.
 
In addition to Taste of Belgium, Great American Ballpark has also added The Reds Brewery District, an 85-foot-long home to 60 taps featuring a dozen local craft beers including selections from Christian Moerlein, MadTree Brewing, Blank Slate Brewing Company, 50 West Brewing Company, Rhinegeist, Mt. Carmel and Rivertown Brewing Company.
 
To learn more about where these local offerings can be found in the stadium, check out the Reds site here.

By Mike Sarason

Kandid.ly helps connect photographers and clients

For some, the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the year for 2013, “selfie,” meant little more than an inane desire for people to capture themselves looking cool. For Sam Ulu, founder of Cincinnati-based startup Kandid.ly, it was a revelation and an opportunity.
 
Kandid.ly is an online resource for photographers to list their work and book gigs. Similarly, it acts as a resource for customers who want to book photographers for any type of event. The streamlined setup allows for quick analysis by customers to find the right photographer based on rates, locations and recommendations, and also adds a social “gamification” element where photographers can receive badges from checking in at events, similar to Foursquare. Ulu cemented the concept for the company just as the selfie era was beginning.
 
“People are craving richer experiences, and they want to be able to remember those moments. That’s why the selfie is so popular,” Ulu says. “The selfie is our quest to capture ourselves being in the moment.”
 
Rather than attempt to capture ourselves, Ulu bet that he could develop a means to have more experienced photographers capture those moments at a price point affordable to anyone. After reading a 2012 Wall Street Journal called “Don’t Forget to Pack a Photographer” that descrived what astronomical rates hotels and vacation services were charging for this, Ulu knew there was a better way.
 
“Nobody had figured how to best monetize this process,” he says. “So I spent a lot of time talking to consumers, interviewing photographers; in the end I talked to more than 600 photographers from 2012-2013.”
 
Now, after taking time to build his team up (Kandid.ly is currently run by a team of seven), Ulu has his company poised to get things rolling.
 
“We’re working on closing a $500,000 investment from Queen City Angels, Cincytech and Accelerant,” Ulu says. “That will enable us to run Kandid.ly in public beta for 12 months, start validating our customer acquisition strategy, revenue model and many other things before we actually scale it.”
 
Ulu is passionate and excited to build his company here in Cincinnati.
 
“People have that Midwest pride here and want to help, even if they are not investing in your company; everyone wants to see you succeed,” Ulu says. “Cincinnati is positioned the be the next hub for entrepreneurs. In the near future, a couple companies are going to bust onto the national scene to literally announce that the Midwest has arrived, and we believe that Kandid.ly is going to be one of those companies.”
 
By Mike Sarason


Metro unveils first ticket vending machine, allowing more flexible public transit

On Thursday, March 27, Metro, Southwest Ohio’s Regional Transit Authority, will unveil its first ticket vending machine. The machine is located at the Government Square information booth near the intersection of Fifth and Walnut in Downtown Cincinnati and provides 24/7 access to Metro passes and stored-value cards.
 
“This project has been in the works for several years, but it took some planning,” says Jill Dunne, public affairs manager at Metro. “We want to make riding Metro easier, and this is one way we can do just that.”
 
The machine is similar to standard vending machines, and offers all Metro 30-day rolling passes including Metro/TANK passes, and $10, $20 and $30 stored-value cards. The machine accepts cash (exact amounts only) or credit cards. Up to four passes can be purchased per transaction.
 
More ticket vending machines will soon be available in the Clifton area near the University of Cincinnati in the new Uptown Transit District and at other high-traffic transit hubs.
 
“The Uptown Transit District is a big project for Metro this year,” Dunne says. “The new district consists of four distinct areas or hubs that will serve as the major connection and transfer point for many Metro routes and several Uptown shuttles offered by the University of Cincinnati and area employers.”
 
Currently, Metro is in the construction phase for the shelters in the Uptown area. The machines will be installed later this year once that process is complete.
 
“This project will better serve the thousands of people riding Metro to and from jobs, education, medical services, and entertainment in Uptown every day,” Dunne says.
 
Metro is working on additional fare options for customers that will be available in Metro pass sales outlets and ticket vending machines. Metro passes will continue to be sold at a dozen Cincinnati locations and online at www.go-metro.com.
 
“The good news for Metro is that Cincinnati is talking about public transportation. We are seeing a positive trend with young professionals embracing alternatives to cars. People are seeking green and money-saving alternatives, and Metro fills those needs.”

By Mike Sarason

Cincinnati Center for Adult Music Study opens this week

This week marks the opening of a new music education program in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Center for Adult Music Study (CincyCAMS). Founded by Rachel Kramer, pianist, teacher and arts administrator, and her business partner Mary Chaiken, CincyCAMS will offer programs on all aspects of music in multiple venues around the greater Cincinnati area. 
 
Chaiken and Kramer have been friends for some time, having made music together as a part of Muse, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, until Kramer retired from the choir in 2013. In 2014, they’ve decided to become business partners.
 
“I had always wanted to start a program like this,” Kramer says. “Mary had just finished her last grant-based job in medical research—she is a molecular biologist—and was looking to do something new. We got to talking and CincyCAMS is the result.”
 
The programs offered include more traditional lessons, performance groups, lectures covering a wide range of musical topics and more. Programs are intended to be short (nothing more than six weeks) so students will not only cover several topics throughout the course of the year, but will also visit several different venues in various areas of the city.
 
“We want to be the community meeting place for people to come, make music and realize a dream come true,” Kramer says. “We want to enrich lives and inspire adults to make their own kind of music.”
 
CincyCAMS is also looking to collaborate with current music teachers and music professionals in the Greater Cincinnati area.
 
“We will be using our professional colleagues as facilitators,” Kramer says. “We also would like students of our community teachers to come to CincyCAMS for enrichment classes and performance opportunity, and we would like to send cincyCAMS participants who want further study to our area teachers.”
 
To that end, CincyCAMS has already partnered with the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, as well as with Northern Kentucky University and the Music Teacher’s National Association.  
 
To learn more about the program, visit www.cincycams.com.

By Mike Sarason

Class is in Session radio program is Cincinnati's newest forum on education

Cincinnati has a new venue for public dialogue on the topic of education in our city. “Class is in Session” is a weekly radio program on 1230 AM every Saturday from 3-4 p.m., created through a collaboration between the Strive Partnership and Parents for Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati (PPSGC). 
 
The show, which began at the beginning of March, is set up to be an open forum where listeners are encouraged to call in and voice their opinions on issues related to education in the urban core.
 
“Our goal is to engage the community and create great discussions in the education sphere,” says Nia Williams, Community Engagement Coordinator for Strive. “This show creates a consistent space for dialogue and provides constant feedback for us that will inform our work.”
 
Strive, a partnership of Greater Cincinnati businesses, nonprofits, school districts and universities working to improve outcomes for every child in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport, reached out to PPSGC because of their experience engaging the community.
 
“We thought radio would be a good venue because we get to share what’s happening and people can offer feedback at any point during the program,” Williams says.
 
So far, topics for Class is in Session have included the achievement gap, poverty, parent involvement and more.
 
“Parent engagement in the education sphere is crucial,” Williams says. “It can fundamentally change how our education system works; we have to do a better job at reaching out to parents and making that happen. That’s why we’re working with PPSGC in the first place.”
 
Class is in Session will also act as a method of sharing positive developments that are happening in the urban core.
 
“We have a lot to talk about as far as early childhood education, the Preschool Promise and more,” Williams says. “We want listeners to be excited and learn how they can get involved.”
 
The Preschool Promise is a campaign to ensure that every 3-4-year-old has access to quality preschool. This promises to get more children ready for school, reading successfully by the end of 3rd grade, and graduating from high school ready for college and careers.
 
To learn more about Class is in Session, visit the Strive Partnership website.

By Mike Sarason

Complete Set offers virtual treasure map for collectors, fans and discoverers

Gary Darna, founder of CompleteSet, an online marketplace for collectibles, may be your new best friend, especially if you’ve always been looking for that Darth Vader cake pan to round out your collection.
 
CompleteSet is an invite-only community that allows collectors and fans to showcase, discover and exchange curated collectibles from the popular to the obscure. The company was founded in 2012 by Darna and Jaime Rump and has since participated in Northern Kentucky University’s INKUBATOR program and won the Cincinnati Innovates competition in 2012.
 
What’s more is that Darna wasn’t following a trajectory to become an entrepreneur in the first place; he was supposed to attend West Point. But when circumstances intervened, Darna found himself starting a company at the age of 19.
 
“I fell into being an entrepreneur kind of by mistake and by necessity when I was medically disqualified from attending West Point,” Darna says. “I lost scholarships and had to find a way to pay for college myself. I figured I’d make websites for people.”
 
That’s exactly what he did, enrolling in the entrepreneurship program at NKU and paying his way by creating websites for student clubs, small businesses, parents of friends and anyone else that came to him.
 
“At the time (in the early 2000s), websites weren’t as simple of a commodity as they are now,” Darna says. “It was like magic if you could make a website for people.”
 
As time went on, Darna learned more about the process of running a business, finding funding and more. He had been kicking around the idea for his collectibles website for several years, having started collecting Star Wars toys of his own in 1995.
 
“I applied to the INKUBATOR because I knew I needed a team to make my idea for CompleteSet a reality,” Darna says. “They helped me find my co-founder, Jaime, and they helped us challenge and refine our idea, build our team and then execute.”
 
“I think the best advice I’ve received has just been the importance of talking to your customer,” Darna says. “We attended a lot of fan conventions like Cincy Comicon, Chicago’s C2E2, and talked to people about how they collect, how much they spend a month, all types of market research info. It gave us invaluable insight into how to gear our company.”
 
After launching in September of 2012, the beta version of CompleteSet was launched in May of 2013. Currently, they are working on an iPhone application and are in the process of applying to different accelerators across the country.

CompleteSet has been nice enough to offer a way for Soapbox readers to join without requesting an invite; simply visit www.completeset.com/join and enter the code soapbox

By Mike Sarason

Xavier University partnership creates Nurse Care Coordinator Program

The Xavier Leadership Center (XLC), the Xavier University School of Nursing and Catholic Health Partners—Ohio’s largest health care organization—have partnered to create the Nurse Care Coordinator Program (NCCP), the first of its kind regionally and one of the first in the country.
 
The program is responding to a national trend in health care that is shifting toward patient-centered care and addresses the issues of poor communication across the silos of health care delivery that have been increasing since the 1980s.
 
“A care coordinator is at the core of the communication between the specialists and makes sure the patient’s care is holistically being administered,” says Sue Schmidt, director of Xavier’s School of Nursing. “The typical nurse in a hospital is more task-oriented and does not do risk management as well as work across systems.”
 
Lynne McCabe, RN, director of Community Care Coordination Programs for Catholic Health Partners, heard about Xavier University from a staff member/care coordinator who had a positive experience while getting her master’s degree in nursing at Xavier. McCabe was already looking to start a training or certificate program for her nursing staff, but found a similar program offered on the East coast to be cost-prohibitive and far away.
 
Using knowledge and experience acquired through implementing a care coordination program for Catholic Health Partners, McCabe knew that partnering locally would be a better solution. The program began at the beginning of 2014 at the XLC with 15 nurse care coordinators and one dietician.
 
Mike Leavy, associate director of the XLC, and one of Schmidt’s and McCabe’s co-developers, says, “This is an innovative program for the region, which will enable participants to be leaders and pioneers in serving the needs of all stakeholders in the rapidly changing health care environment. Our goal is to graduate our first cohort in the spring then continue to expand the program in the community and the region.”
 
By Mike Sarason

Sanger & Eby grows teams, expands services

With more than 25 years in business, strategic design and technology firm Sanger & Eby continues to grow as it announced the addition of three new members to its team: Adeline Ledford as Director of New Business, Kevin Roesch as Strategic Planning Associate and Michael Klaas as Web Development Co-op.
 
“We’re thrilled to have these new additions to the team,” says founding partner Donna Eby. “Two of these are new positions we’ve created. With the expansion of our talented staff, each in different divisions, we’re able to extend more opportunities to new and existing clients, as well as our own team.”
 
All three of the hires come from within the region, Roesch and Klaas both from the University of Cincinnati and Ledford from Miami University at Oxford.
 
“Cincinnati has always been somewhat of an unexpected hotbed for creative talent, which is a great thing for the city as well as our business,” Eby says. “We’ve hired creative thinkers and writers who also possess a skill for research, something we can’t get enough of in this business.
 
Although it’s one of the largest women-owned businesses in Cincinnati, Sanger & Eby is poised to enter new areas of business through this staff expansion. Clients include Macy's, Fifth Third Bank, Luxottica and Roto-Rooter.
 
“For years, we’ve worked on talent communications, and recently we’ve developed an expertise for education branding as well,” Eby says. “We needed a Director of New Business to help in saturating these markets. Our clients also have growing needs for new methods of strategic thinking, so we carved out a position for an associate strategist.”
 
In addition to these areas, Sanger & Eby has expanded its suite of strategic resources for clients, including the area of content creation.
 
“We recognize we have a talented staff of thought leaders in their own right that help us expand and propel forward," Eby says. "Our commitment is to our staff, our city and, of course, our clients. Throughout our 25 years, we’ve made sure to execute the best strategy to give them lasting results.”
 
 By Mike Sarason


The Garage Group adds training services, hosts innovation workshop

The Garage Group, the Cincinnati-based consultancy that helps larger, corporate companies engage with and activate their entrepreneurial spirit, has begun offering training services in addition to their focus on market research and insights and ideation workshops. In conjunction with these services, they will host a two-day workshop in Cincinnati on April 24-25 entitled “Enabling Corporate Teams to Innovate Like Startups.”
 
The company, located in the historic Longworth Hall amidst several other startup, design and production companies, was co-founded nearly three years ago by Jason Hauer and Ann Lauer, two entrepreneurs who left small firms to start their own business together.
 
“Three years ago, when we started, the concept of making a corporation more like a startup was very hard for people to understand,” Lauer says. “It was not common language, and we wrestled a lot with it. We got into the training business because we had to do some education to get people to understand the concept.”
 
According to The Garage Group, things have changed since then.
 
“Cincinnati has become a more innovative entrepreneurial region in that time,” Lauer says. “We’ve benefitted from that and hopefully made a contribution to it as well. We sit in an interesting position where we get to bridge between the startups and larger companies.
 
In those three years, The Garage Group has trained more than 1,000 people from large service and Fortune 1,000 companies nationwide on topics such as skills and behaviors for entrepreneurs and how to develop and collaboratively co-create ideas with stakeholders.
 
“When we think about a traditional company being more entrepreneurial, it’s on two levels,” Hauer says. “At one level its really about developing and launching new products, services and business models. At another level it’s about getting people within the base organization to think more entrepreneurially in terms of how they approach their day-to-day job and continually improve the value that they are bringing to their company, brand or service they are working on.”
 
The Garage Group will hold their two-day workshop in Cincinnati in April and will follow it up with an additional workshop in Chicago in June. To learn more, visit their website.

By Mike Sarason


Cincinnati Preservation Collective creating framework to save historic buildings

Cincinnati Preservation Collective (CPC) officially has the designation of being the newest group of engaged local citizens passionate about preserving Cincinnati’s historic properties.
 
Founded in late 2013, CPC came together as a way for Cincinnatians who care about historic buildings not only to meet up and learn from one another about preservation in the city, but also to create a framework that provides a proactive approach to saving such structures.
 
“CPC was started in part because I was having a lot of conversations with people who were interested in preservation, many of them already involved in different neighborhood type organizations, but who didn’t actually have a way to proactively save buildings,” says co-founder Diana Tisue. “As a community, we’ve been through a lot of really dramatic battles saving buildings and I realized that part of the problem was that we were coming in too late. Our cause can’t be one building; it has to be advocating for preservation throughout the city.”
 
Already, the young group has set its sights on five “impact buildings” that have been selected because they are either in danger of demolition or are in need of considerable rehabilitation. Four of the properties are in Over-the-Rhine (including the Davis Furniture Building on Main Street) and one is in Walnut Hills (The Paramount Building on McMillan).
 
“For a lot of people, being labeled a preservationist carries a stigma with it; it’s anti-development or anti-progress,” says co-founder John Blatchford. “But I think what we’ve seen in Cincinnati, in areas like Over-the-Rhine and downtown, is that we’ve benefitted a lot from saving old buildings and making use of them. And it can be done in an economic, profitable way.”
 
In addition to its five impact buildings, CPC is also rallying the community around the idea of preservation in other ways. Last week, they held their first Pitch Party event at Venue 222, featuring 10 presenters each given five minutes or less to present their preservation related projects.
 
The winners were decided by an audience vote, which ended up as a tie between Brendan Regan of OTR ADOPT and Giacomo Ciminello of PlayCincy, who each were awarded $500 in seed funding. The organizers note that just as important as the seed funding was the social capital gained by presenting to a full room of preservation enthusiast; CPC hopes to host the pitch party annually.
 
The next CPC meeting will be on Tuesday, March 25 at Arnold’s and is free and open to the public. To learn more, visit www.preservethenati.com.
 
By Mike Sarason


HCDC invites 'Encore Entrepreneurs' to tap local resources

The Hamilton County Development Company, the not-for-profit economic development company that houses Ohio’s highest ranked business incubator, will host Cincinnati’s first ever Encore Entrepreneurship Workshop on Monday, March 24.
 
The workshop is a collaborative effort between the Small Business Administration (SBA), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), SCORE and HCDC, geared towards “encore entrepreneurs,” i.e., entrepreneurs age 50+ who are beginning a new career or venture.
 
“Instead of slowing down, encore entrepreneurs are reinventing themselves for a variety of reasons—to supplement retirement, to fulfill a dream or to keep themselves young by tackling new challenges,” says David Main, President of HCDC. “There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in this generation of entrepreneurs that can’t be taught on the internet.”
 
Though the workshop is the first of its kind in the Cincinnati area, the initial response has revealed pent up demand for such types of events. While HCDC is still accepting RSVPs, only a few slots remain open for the free event. The workshop will cover the resources and tools available to prepare entrepreneurs to successfully start their own small business.
 
“We want to show that the path of an entrepreneur is something that is an opportunity for all age groups,” Main says. “We have some veteran entrepreneurs that are going to share their experiences … it can be exhilarating, depressing, exciting and lonely, that’s why we have an incubator to help these companies make it through the ups and downs together.”
 
In addition to the incubator, HCDC also provides growing businesses access to SBA loans and other financing tools to purchase real estate and equipment while retaining capital.
 
“HCDC’s mission is to be a driving force behind business development. We do this through attraction of business to the Cincinnati area, retention of current business and creation of new businesses. For the last segment, we think it’s important to look across the board for opportunities. The Encore Entrepreneur Workshop is just one way we’re tackling this issue.”
 
To learn more and/or RSVP, visit www.hcdc.com

By Mike Sarason


TiER1's Doug Arthur spreads successful Cincinnati community engagement model nationwide

TiER1 Performance Solutions, the Covington-based business consulting/design/strategy/training company, has Doug Arthur, its director of Community Engagement Services, on the run. In 2005, Arthur co-founded a nonprofit collaboration between business and educators called the INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati. With help from Procter & Gamble, the University of Cincinnati and many others, INTERalliance connects students, jobs and education. With the program running successfully in Cincinnati, TiER1 has sent Arthur across the country to replicate the results in different communities.
 
Arthur initially started the INTERalliance to respond to the lack talent being fostered locally in the IT field.
 
“I was working for a company called ATOS and wanted to hire a co-op from UC, but was told that they didn’t have enough students going into computer science,” Arthur says. “In the Cincinnati area, it turns out that there will be as many as 6,000 unfilled IT jobs in the next five years.”
 
By bringing together the largest companies in the city, including P&G, Kroger and Macys, and partnering with local universities and high schools, Arthur helped create a pipeline for the city to address its employment gap and retain top talent. INTERalliance launched IT Career Camps in 2006 and, in addition to reaching 3,500 students since then, spawned the TechOlympics Expo, a three-day celebration of technology and innovation.
 
This month, Arthur has been commuting to Fort Wayne, Ind., to replicate the model, helping the Northeast Indiana Tech Coalition produce its own “TechFest 2014” in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County and Atos. He has also worked in a similar capacity in cities like Cleveland and San Diego.
 
“At the end of the day, every city is dealing with similar problems,” Arthur says. “How do they retain the current companies they have and attract new ones? One of the biggest parts of doing that is having an employer-ready workforce with the right skill. What we do is call on the employers, the high schools and the universities, bring them together using a common methodology, listen to their unique needs in each city and help build a framework that addresses those issues.”

By Mike Sarason

New tool helps nonprofits analyze program outcomes

Sprout Insight, the market research and insight consultancy, has added a new addition to its suite of research services called ShutterLIGHT. ShutterLIGHT integrates a user-friendly online research platform to help nonprofits collect and analyze data to document program outcomes. Integrating ShutterLIGHT into the outcomes measurement process increases staff efficiency and data accuracy.
 
“Before starting Sprout Insight just under three years ago, we ran a nonprofit called Harmony Garden for many years,” says Lisa Mills, co-founder of Sprought Insight. “We understand that it can be a struggle and you often are dealing with very limited resources. ShutterLIGHT helps with the daunting task of documenting outcomes through a cloud-based service and simplifies what used to be a very time consuming process.”
 
Sprout Insight believes that with the correct focus, filter and frame (its three-step process of integrating ShutterLIGHT), nonprofits can leverage the power of this new technology to maximize and target resources toward meeting business objectives and organizational mission.
 
“Nonprofits need to become more modern and incorporate these systems to understand the community they are working with and addressing,” Mills says. “With our three-step process, we help them identify the right question to answer, fine tune and further customize measurements, and create opportunities for them to receive a return on their investment.”
 
After pivoting to become Sprout Insight in early 2012, one of the biggest projects Mills and company have landed so far is through a partnership with a group called Student Sports, based in Los Angeles. The company has been looking to learn more about high school boys, one of its most important segments.
 
“Through this partnership and the technology and research methods we have, we are gaining insights into this segment that help us better understand what their challenges and preferences are,” Mills says. “We have 5,000 teenage boys on a panel, some of which are elite high school athletes. Given the prominence of issues like bullying and concussions in sports right now, we think it is especially important to help the public better understand these students.”
 
To learn more about Sprout Insight, check out their website here.

By Mike Sarason


Brighter Dates offers charity event-driven dating service for Cincinnatians

Brighter Dates, Cincinnati’s first event-driven dating service, offers a unique approach to modern dating, allowing singles to meet organically and safely in person while supporting local charities.
 
The next event hosted by Brighter Dates will be “Cheers to Baseball” on March 26 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Green Diamond Gallery, typically a members-only establishment featuring the largest private collection of baseball memorabilia. Wine, local beer and mini-desserts will be served, and a portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to The Character and Courage Foundation.
 
Launched locally by husband and wife team Stephanie and Justin McGuffey in January 2014, Brighter Dates came to fruition after the McGuffeys heard from countless friends about the pitfalls of online dating, meeting at bars and other common methods. The idea came to Justin in March 2013, and the couple has worked on it since.
 
“After I had the idea, our first step was to test the waters to see if anyone would even be interested,” Justin says. “There are positivies about both online dating and traditional dating. Some like one, some prefer the other; we give you the best of both worlds.”
 
The unique process guarantees that all guests are single and commitment-minded. Guests are able to learn about one another at each event without the pressure of exchanging numbers or contact information. At the conclusion of the mixer, guests can log in to their confidential online profiles and select those with whom they formed a connection.
 
If the attraction is mutual, both users will gain access to each other’s profiles and have to option to connect further. All of this occurs while supporting local causes.
 
“Our mission is to help commitment-minded individuals find love in a relaxed and fun way,” Stephanie says. “We are excited to offer a proactive approach to dating that also supports the local community.”
 
To learn more or sign up for the March 26 event, visit www.brighterdates.com

By Mike Sarason

Makers wanted: Manufactory opens its doors to creatives

The Krieg family, owners of Lee Corp Printers for three generations, has turned what was the headquarters of their business into a new venture called the Manufactory. Located on Mosteller Road north of Cincinnati, the Manufactory is a shared membership workshop that offers tools, equipment and workspace to turn ideas into reality.
 
The Manufactory had its soft opening at the beginning of 2014, with a formal ribbon cutting coming in the spring  It operates similarly to a gym membership, with daily, monthly or yearly membership plans. Inside the Manufactory are all kinds of machines for manufacturers including a 3D printer, vinyl cutter, various types of saws, lathes, welding tools, woodworking tools, plastics tools and more.
 
Lee Krieg, president of the Manufactory, had the idea for the business while researching a California-based company called TechShop.
 
“For the past 10-15 years, the printing company has seen a decline, mostly a result of the explosion of the internet,” Krieg says. “Eventually, we realized that we had too much space in the 35,000-square-foot building that we owned to justify that company occupying all of it. I was looking into 3D printing and I came across the TechShop, which also has all kinds of tools as well and a similar membership-based approach. I was hooked on that concept and pitched it to my family that week.”
 
Converting the space to its current state was a yearlong process that involved hauling off hundreds of tons of material, much of it antiquated equipment, and investing a significant amount into new, state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment.
 
“Safety is of paramount importance in our space,” Krieg says. “New members must participate in a brief safety orientation class. Additionally most of the major pieces of equipment have a safe use class that must be taken prior to a member operating the equipment. We also offer additional classes that members may take to learn more or just for fun. Some dive deeper into advanced ways of using a machine or performing special tasks.”
 
A large portion of the Manufactory’s clientele so far are engineers, but the venture also caters to artisans, tinkerers, teachers and anyone part of the emerging maker culture in Cincinnati. In fact, the Manufactory sponsored the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire event at Washington Park this past October.
 
“Despite the terrible weather, our booth was packed all day,” Kreig says.
 
In the coming months, the Manufactory will be hosting a number of events, tours and classes open to members and non-members. To find out more, visit their site here.

By Mike Sarason
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