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Lava Room celebrates 12 years of producing rising stars and superstars

When Mike Brown went off to Berklee College of Music in the early 90s, he originally planned to study guitar and be a musician. But by the end of his first semester, he had decided to go the tech route and eventually became an engineer and producer.
 
After graduating in 1997 and paying his does in the recording world, Brown decided in May 2003 to open his own recording studio – Lava Room Recording on Cleveland’s west side. By September he opened his doors. “I really built it for myself and hoped people would follow,” Brown recalls. “I wanted to make a studio with the elements I wanted.”
 
The people did follow. Twelve years later, Lava Room Recording has a national reputation in the recording industry, working with artists in all music genres as well as commercial and film production. In 2008 the studio also moved to and renovated the old WHK radio station next to the Cleveland Agora Theater on Euclid Avenue.
 
Brown has worked with everyone from local bands like The Modern Electric and Kent-based Goodnight Tonight to former Eagles member and independent artist Joe Walsh and Paramore.
 
“Everyone gets treated like a rock star here, whether you’re a 15-year-old kid or someone like Joe Walsh,” Brown says. “We have a place or room or budget for everyone. I personally like working with unsigned bands because I get to help mold them in their careers.”
 
Two months ago Brown made a “huge upgrade” to Lava Room’s sound and software systems. Moving forward, Brown wants to focus on the young, up-and-coming musicians. “I’m helping young bands treat themselves more like businesses, help them understand how to be more self-sufficient,” he says. “A lot of times bands don’t understand the business. They just understand the music. There’s loyalty there – when we help them, they definitely want to come back and do a record with us.”
 
The name “Lava Room” comes from Brown’s love of lava lamps and color for inspiration. The three studios and lounge are all color-coded based on the lava lamps in each room. “I always loved the ambiance of lava lamps and colored lights,” Brown says. “It kind of inspired me.”
 
Lava Room Recording has eight employees, each capable of engineering a variety of music genres.

Unique urban cycling event returns for a second year

Thousands of cyclists and bike enthusiasts will descend on Cleveland September 11-13 for the second annual NEOCycle for races, rides, music and other events in a celebration of everything cycling.

The event is the first and only urban cycling festival in the country. “We wanted to create a cycling festival that brought different races and rides together,” explains Nick VanDemark, communications manager for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, which organizes the event.  “It was incredibly successful in our first year – we went way past the goals we set. There’s a lot of positive momentum around the cycling community and infrastructure in town.”
 
Last year almost 2,700 people registered for five different race events and 10,000 came to Edgewater Park for the live music. This year, organizers are hoping to register 4,000 cyclists.
 
The center of activity takes place at the event's Hub at Edgewater Park. Two stages will feature 25 bands over the course of the weekend and there will be food trucks, vendors, activities and a beer garden with four craft breweries. Admission to the Hub is free.
 
This year, VanDemark says organizers hope to grow the event even more. Competitive races include the Velodrome – high speed track racing -- on Friday, September 11at the Cleveland Velodrome and the Cyclocross, in which riders will navigate the crowds and other obstacles in a race around Edgewater Park, on Saturday, September 12.
 
 The Fundo, an un-timed ride for cyclists of all ages and ability levels is on Sunday, September 13. Proceeds from the Fundo go to Bike Cleveland, an organization dedicated to making the streets safer for biking and walking. The Criterium, also on Sunday, is a fast-paced race in partnership with Case Cycling through closed city streets in Battery Park.
 
“It’s a great collaborative event for a lot of people in cycling,” says VanDemark of the races.
 
The signature biking event is the Night Ride. The event takes place Saturday evening and offers spectacular views of the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie as more than 2,000 cyclists ride down the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway in costume and glow lights. “It’s an eight-and-a-half mile course that anyone can do,” says VanDemark. “It’s an awesome visual scene to see thousands of bikes whizzing through downtown on the Shoreway.”
 
For those who are more inclined to hit the lake, NEOCycle has teamed up with Nalu Standup Paddle and Surf for standup paddleboard races, lessons and demos throughout the weekend. There are two mile and four mile races and a one mile kids’ race on Saturday, and a three-quarter mile buoy race on Sunday.
 
Registration is required for all of the NEOCycle races.
 
Even if biking is not your thing, there is plenty to do at NEOCycle, says VanDemark. “There are a couple of ways to get involved, even if you’re not a biker. There’s something there for just about anyone, whether you’re a cyclist or not.”
 

Cleveland Cord Blood Center saves lives through donated umbilical cords

One simple, altruistic act after childbirth can potentially save the life of another person. The umbilical cords cut from babies shortly after birth contain lifesaving stem cells in their blood, which in turn can be used for research into cures for many common diseases. The cord blood that mothers choose to donate after childbirth can also be used for treatment of hematologic ailments such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia.

The Cleveland Cord Blood Center (CCBC) is one of just 14 nonprofit organizations that collect cord blood for research and treatment. “We take the cord blood donated by families after they have their babies and use it to treat leukemia,” explains Marcie Finney, associate director of the CCBC. “One of our donors calls it the ‘ultimate recycling program.’”
 
Marcie Finney, associate director of the CCBCAfter childbirth, most mothers choose to either dispose of the umbilical cord or pay to store it in a bank in case of future ailments in their child. But some choose to donate the cords – and the blood – to the CCBC. “That process is altruistic,” says Finney. “We have treated over 300 patients.”
 
The CCBC was founded in 2007 by Mary J. Laughlin, who in 1993 performed the world's first successful umbilical cord blood transplant in an adult leukemia patient. Today, the center has sent cord blood to 14 countries, while 70 to 75 percent of the blood stays in the United States.
 
Additionally, the CCBC researches how cord blood can be used in the development of topical wound treatments, and how they play a role in developing T-cell therapies for cancer patients and diabetes immunity.
 
Currently, the Cleveland Clinic main campus, Fairview Hospital and Hillcrest Hospital are the only area facilities that participate in the cord donation program at CCBC. “When the cord blood is collected, there is no harm to the mother or baby,” stresses Finney. “A lot of people doing a little bit of effort has a huge impact.”
 
The center now has 24 employees and is funded through grants from the Abraham J. and Phyllis Katz Foundation and the Dr. Donald J. and Ruth Weber Goodman Philanthropic Fund, as well as private and public donations. “The costs are astronomical,” says Finney of the center’s storage, research and operations expenses. “For every 100 [cords] we bank, only one will get picked for transplant.”
 
But Finney and her team press on in their quests to find cures and treatments through cord stem cells for so many blood diseases.

Tourism hits record numbers as word spreads about Cleveland

The word is out that Cleveland is a cool place to visit. According to Destination Cleveland, Cuyahoga County’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. Last week the organization released its 2014 Convention and Leisure Tourism Metrics Report, showing that Cleveland hit a five-year high in the number of visitors to the city, with 16.9 million visitors last year.
 
That number represents a 4.5 percent increase over 2013, which counted 16.2 million visitors coming to Cleveland. In 2010 there were 14 million visitors. The report is based on combination of industry statistics and the convention and Destination Cleveland’s performance metrics.
 
“We’re really excited about it,” says Jennifer Kramer, Destination Cleveland’s communications manager. “The numbers continue to go up. “As Cleveland is starting to revitalize, we’ve piqued people’s interest and they’re giving a second look at Cleveland.”
 
The record numbers show a change in attitude about Cleveland, especially among Millennials and arts and culture enthusiasts. “There’s an increasingly positive feeling about Cleveland but it wasn’t always that way,” says Kramer. “Some folks think of Cleveland in the old days and they can't get past some things. But this has really has helped drive visitors to the market, get everyone interested in visiting. The campaign has been successful in changing that attitude.”
 
Kramer says the increase in tourism is in part because of the investment in downtown. “There’s been $3 billion in visitor-related infrastructure,” she says. “We attribute the increase in numbers to the development going on in downtown Cleveland over the last five years.”
 
The report also shows that Destination Cleveland’s marketing and media efforts have paid off. The #ThisisCLE social media campaign that encouraged locals to share photos and stories about Cleveland, brought a 21 percent increase over 2013 in new page views of Destination Cleveland’s website.

“It has given us an opportunity for us to share what we see from a local perspective,” explains Kramer. Fifty four percent of residents who participated said they would recommend Cleveland as a destination, up from 34 percent.
 
Furthermore, travel and leisure writers have taken an interest in the city. Cleveland made it on various top cities lists among travel writers, including the New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2015 and Travel and Leisure Best Places to Travel in 2015. “We’ve become one of the must-see places,” says Kramer. “When you start to see Cleveland on the same playing field as places like Las Vegas or Italy, we’re very fortunate.”
  
Kramer admits that the upcoming Republican National Convention and the Cavaliers in the NBA finals boosted interest in Cleveland. But the recent completion of the Cleveland Convention Center and the increase in downtown hotels has increased the city’s capacity to host both conventioneers and tourists.
 
And things seem to only be getting better. “Our plan is to build on this momentum,” says Kramer. “The Republican National Convention is a huge deal, but it’s a Launchpad for more. We know we will continue to welcome this market as we get the word out.” 

Who's Hiring in CLE: RageOn, LaunchHouse, the Cleveland Foundation and more

Welcome to the latest installment of Fresh Water’s “who’s hiring” series, where we feature growing companies with open positions, what they’re looking for and how to apply.
 
RageOn
Want a t-shirt covered with images of pizza? Or how about a tote bag with images of your own artwork? Since April 2014, RageOn has steadily grown as the one of the largest all-over print online stores. The e-commerce site specializes in custom print designs as well as apparel featuring the unique work of artists and designers.
 
Now RageOn is moving quickly into a new realm. “We’ve invented the world’s fastest and simplest custom printing with the simplest technology,” says founder Mike Krilivsky. “We’re expanding our technology base. It’s something we think will change of lot of aspects of the world as we know it right now.”
 
The new technology will allow RageOn to create custom products at an affordable price. “We can do custom creations without spending a lot of money,” he explains. “Anyone with access to a phone or a computer can create something and monetize it in seconds.”
 
Krilivsky continuously accepts resumes for any position, to keep a lookout for the best talent. “We always want to keep the door open awesome talent,” he says. “The best way to do that is always make sure the new technology means he has some specific needs. “A lot of our positions require several different hats. That’s life at a startup.”
 
RageOn is currently hiring for 12 different positions. But with the new technology, Krilivsky has some specific needs – primarily a director of engineering, a senior designer and a director of marketing. “We’re making awesome products that people love and want to use,” he says. “Now we need some great people to do it.”
 
But Krilivsky warns that applicants have to have an entrepreneurial spirit to work at RageOn. “We don’t want to hire people who want a job – we want to hire people who want to change the world,” he says. Apply through RageOn’s website. For a complete list of open jobs and requirements, click here.
 
LaunchHouose
LaunchHouse, the entrepreneurial community in Shaker Heights, is looking for a front desk manager to work directly with the executive team on a variety of tasks. This is an opportunity for those who think outside the box and want to be part of a growing company that could lead to extended opportunities. Responsibilities include customer service, answering phones, event setup, writing a blog and other support tasks.  
 
Send resume and cover letter to the LaunchHouse team.
 
The Cleveland Foundation
The Cleveland Foundation needs a donor relations officer to cultivate relationships within an assigned portfolio of donors to inspire and engage their philanthropic interests and goals. A bachelor’s degree and five to seven years of experience in a service environment where responsibilities included providing professional advice and personal service to a diverse group of high-profile donors/clients.
 
To apply, send cover letter, resume and salary requirements to the hiring manager by Friday, August 28. Candidates selected for an interview will be contacted the week of August 31.
 
BioEnterprise
BioEnterprise, an organization that creates and grows companies in bioscience and healthcare, needs a director of health IT talent development, a new position at BioEnterprise. Apply through JumpStart.
 
Ohio CAT
Ohio CAT, the exclusive authorized dealer of Caterpillar equipment and engines in Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana, has five openings in its Broadview Heights facility. The jobs include equipment field service technician; project manager in the power systems division; emergency vehicle technician, oil and gas service and sales rep; compact power sales rep.  For complete job descriptions and to apply, visit the Ohio CAT careers page.
 
Empower Gas & Electric
Empower Gas & Electric, which is partnered with the City of Cleveland to deliver low cost, high impact energy efficiency services for enrolled aggregation customers through the Cleveland Energy$aver program, needs a Northeast Ohio community solutions director to implement on-the-ground energy efficiency programming. To apply, send resume and cover letter to the hiring manager.
 
The Vue
The Vue, Beachwood’s newest modern metropolitan apartments, is looking for an ambassador. The job is for six month and offers free rent at the Vue in exchange for Tweeting, Instagramming, blogging and overall serving as The Vue ambassador. Deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 25. To apply, submit resume and a 150-word essay explaining why you are the perfect ambassador. Also express your interest on your social media channels, tagging #HireMeVue in your posts.
 
Technical Assurance
Technical Assurance, a national building envelope consulting group that manages building enclosure consulting and design for assignments of any size or scope, is expanding its CAD production capabilities, including an AutoCAD operator in its Willoughby headquarters. The goal is to add depth to the department with a variety of experience levels.  Ideal candidates have experience with managing multiple projects, ability to operate in a fast-paced production environment, have a keen attention to details, and most importantly be a team player. To learn more about other open positions or to apply directly, please contact the hiring manager.
 
Software Answers
Software Answers needs a senior application developer with a solid understanding of web-based development on Microsoft technologies who also has a passion for developing quality software applications to work on its ProgressBook suite – applications to promote academic achievement in grades K-12. Apply through JumpStart.

First Cleveland MedHack will bring together area's top healthcare innovators

Northeast Ohio's top computer programmers, doctors, patient advocates, entrepreneurs and other healthcare professionals will use their talents in innovation and technology to address problems facing healthcare at the first-ever Cleveland Medical Hackathon on September 26th and 27th at the Global Center for Health Innovation.
 
The event is designed to leverage the region’s strength in healthcare against technology and diverse skills in medical innovation. Lead partners behind the Cleveland MedHack include Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, CWRU, Ingenuity Cleveland, Flashstarts, MetroHealth System and BioEnterprise.
 
“Hackathons have been very successful in uniting people for a successful cause,” explains Will Morris, associate Chief Information Officer for the Cleveland Clinic. “This is about better healthcare delivery – better, faster, cheaper. It wasn’t so much ‘why don’t we do this” as it was ‘why aren’t we doing this.’”
 
Nesco Resource, one of the nation’s top staffing and HR firms with headquarters in Mayfield Heights, is sponsoring the Nesco Innovation Awards, which will be awarded to the hackathon teams that excel in developing projects that lead to out-of-the-box solutions. 
 
“Nesco Resource has been a long-time Cleveland based company that has been about connecting talented engineers and IT people with needs in the community,” says James Krouse, Nesco’s director of marketing and communications. “We’re happy to be presenting this event in that tradition.”
 
First place concepts will receive $3,000, second place will get $1,500 and third place will receive $500.
 
Organizers are hoping hundreds of participants will attend the MedHack and that it will become an annual event. “This is truly a grassroots effort with an eye toward the North Star of the global issue of how we deliver better patient care,” says Morris.
 
The event is free to attend, but applications are required to participate. The deadline is to apply is Wednesday, September 2nd.

Remesh travels to NYC to develop their CLE business

Back in 2012, Andrew Konya was disturbed by the inability of Israel and the West Bank to communicate and work out their differences. He thought that if the conflict was between just two people, they would be able to talk out their differences. But there was no way for a group of people, let alone an entire country, to work out their problems.
 
The thought gave Konya an idea. In 2013 at a Kent State University hackathon, he began working on an app for group communications. The idea was to condense many voices into one singular voice. He then teamed up with Aaron Slodov and the two developed an app that takes comments from a group of people and translates it into one uniform message.
 
Of course Konya and Slodov don’t expect to solve any Middle East crises with <remesh, but they do hope their product will eventually help businesses easily and quickly conduct market research and gather feedback from groups of customers by filtering their comments into one cohesive statement.
 
The two joined the 2014 Flashstarts accelerator and formed <remesh. “<remesh is an app that turns a group of people into a single intelligence,” says Konya. “It works with any size group, a classroom or a country, and treats it like it was one person.”
 
The company officially launched in 2014. Konya and Slodov received $150,000 in funding from Flashstarts and $100,000 grant from GLIDE, created their headquarters in StartMart in the Terminal Tower and released a beta version of the <remesh app. They now have five employees.
 
In June <remesh was chosen to participate in the Barclays Accelerator, a 12-week program in New York that provides $120,000 in funding, networking and support in taking the company to the next level.  The additional funding will help <remesh validate commercial uses for its app.
 
Half of the <remesh team is in New York this summer, while the other half remains in the Cleveland headquarters running the company. “We’re taking the technology and searching for where the market is and where we can promote value,” says Konya, adding that a stint in New York also offers additional business networking.
 
“There are also other opportunities in New York to identify companies who can make use of the technology,” explains Slodov. “Even as we’re developing the product we’re getting feedback.”
 
Slodov and Konya are quick to point out that while their trip to New York will be instrumental in <remesh’s continued success, Cleveland is where they want to grow the business. “Every person on our team is an Ohio native,” says Slodov. “We built the business here and we got our technology to a place where it’s valuable.”
 

SEA Change taking applications for a new group of social innovators

SEA Change, a collaborative social enterprise accelerator that provides funding, training and coaching to civic-minded companies, is taking applications for its second round of companies to participate in its accelerator.

Thirteen businesses with a social and economic cause participated in last year’s accelerator and eight companies went on to compete for, and ultimately received, a portion of $50,000 in total funding. Rust Belt Riders and Vineyards and Biocellar of Chateau Hough were among the top companies to receive funding.
 
This year SEA Change has at least $60,000 in funding and hopes to accept 10 applicants, depending on the applications they get. “We’re looking for the best business ideas that want to improve the community,” says Mike Shafarenko, director of Civic Commons IdesStream, one of the lead collaborators for SEA Change. “Last year we has a wide variety of social enterprises.” He says they are expecting about 50 companies to apply this year.
 
This year’s accelerator will operate a little differently than last year. “We’re re-developing the accelerator a little bit by using different elements being used across the country,” Shafarenko says. “We’re making it equal parts training and mentorship with a lot of hands-on training and more experiential opportunities than last year.”
 
Those chosen for the accelerator will participate in a 16 week program of eight weeks of training and eight weeks of pitch preparation and coaching.
 
While the program doesn’t being until October, applications are due by Saturday, August 15 by 8pm.

Techies and creatives pool their talents to help 19 nonprofits at GiveCamp

Since 2010, coders, developers, graphic designers and social media experts have come together on the LeanDog barge for a summer weekend. They gather for Cleveland GiveCamp – a nationwide program to help non-profits with the technical projects – websites, apps and development jobs -- they couldn’t otherwise afford to do.
 
This year, on July 17-29, 200 volunteers came out to complete 19 different projects. “We did a lot of websites,” says organizer Amy Wong. “A lot of non-profits can’t afford $10,000 to $15,000 for a website. Absolutely no one gets paid to do this. It’s probably one of the most organized, professionally done events around.”
 
There is an organizing committee, project troubleshooters, project managers for each project, general volunteers and social media pros making sure each challenge is met by the end of the weekend.
 
All of the 19 projects help worthwhile causes, says Wong. But two particular projects stood out this year. Veggie U, an organization that teaches nutrition education to elementary school students, wanted to develop a game to teach third graders healthy living education. Nineteen GiveCamp volunteers, including a 3D animator and five people with game development experience, developed Veggie Worms.
 
“As a small nonprofit we would never have been able to afford the expertise required for a specialized application like this, as our funds are required for operations and getting our program into elementary and special needs classrooms,” says Vicki Jenkins, Veggie U marketing manager. “It's always been a goal of ours to involve parents in our program and let them know what their children are learning in school. We felt a game that could be played together and discussed at home would be both fun and educational.”
 
Jenkins was thrilled with the game and the volunteers. “GiveCamp was an intense, exhilarating experience. I personally learned quite a bit and met some amazing professionals,” she says. “Without their help we never could have considered a custom game.”
 
Volunteers for a project for the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, which encompasses 29 gardens and eight gardens in development along MLK Boulevard and East Boulevard in Rockefeller Park, built an app for visitors to navigate the gardens. The app uses GPS to help users to find a particular garden and then provides information about it.
 
“The app is terrific,” says Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation (CCGF) board member and GiveCamp volunteer Dan Hanson. “It lets anyone with a PC, tablet or smart phone access the map and plan a trip in advance or, if at the Gardens, use GPS to determine location and where they want to go next. Once we have all the data entered, a visitor will be able to stand in front of a statue and the app will use GPS to let them know which Garden they are in, which statue they are looking at and some details about each. “

Hanson says GiveCamp was quite an experience. “The three days were long and intense but working with the GiveCamp volunteers was a blast. They were tremendously talented and dedicated. The app they created is not just for the CCGF – it is for the entire city and region. Locals and visitors can all now maximize their visit to this unique destination.”
 
Eight developers and a geo-mapper worked on the CCGF project. As an all-volunteer organization, the Gardens would not have been able to develop the app without GiveCamp.

MAGNET to share the secrets of attracting and retaining employees in the manufacturing industry

A frequent concern in the manufacturing industry is how to attract and keep talented people. “It’s the number-one thing we hear from manufacturers,” says Matt Fieldman, vice president for external affairs for MAGNET. “It’s probably the number-one thing plaguing Northeast Ohio employers in general.”

So next Thursday, August 6, MAGNET will host a free seminar to address workforce needs in the manufacturing industry – sharing the secrets of successful manufacturers in the region and telling some not so pleasant truths about hiring the right people.
 
“Develop Your Workforce for Growth” will feature three speakers from successful area manufacturers who will share their secrets to successful hiring and retention of top talent. Reggie Stover, vice president of people and talent for Fairmount Santrol will share Fairmount’s best practices and strategies for talent retention and Kenton Woodhead, material manager of Royal Plastics will discuss the challenges of addressing the incumbent workforce.
 
Bill Swan, training coordinator of Swagelok will talk about Right Skills Now a collaborative pilot program created between MANGET, Tri-C and Swagelok that offers accelerated training skills for manufacturing jobs. Upon completion of the program, graduates can choose to either stay at Swagelok or take a job elsewhere.
 
“It’s the chicken-or-the-egg problem: How do you get the job without experience,” explains Fieldman. “The idea is let’s create fast-track training programs where we develop the workforce.”
 
Fieldman says the program is designed to give workers a leg up in securing mid-level manufacturing jobs. “The average salary in the manufacturing world is $55,000 for a middle skills job that is 9-5 and 40 hours a week,” he says. “We can help scale up people for whom college is not an option or white collar isn’t the right path. This program makes these jobs inclusive and accessible to people.”
 
MAGNET plans to expand the Right Skills Now program across Northeast Ohio. “This is real talk, this is tough love for some manufacturers,” says Fieldman of Thursday’s seminar. "You can’t get experienced people and not pay. If you want entry-level people, you have to be prepared to train them. That’s where MAGNET comes in: we help small- and medium-size manufacturers attract, retain, and develop their people for the long term.”
 
The speakers will be followed by a brainstorming session. The seminar runs from 9am to 11:30am at Lakeland Community College Holden University CenterRegistration is preferred, but walk-ins are welcome.

FutureHeights to offer mini-grants for neighborhood improvement projects

In an effort to improve Cleveland Heights neighborhoods and create a new kind of social interaction, FutureHeights is now offering mini-grants of up to $1,000 for neighbors to get together for improvement projects.
 
“It’s a way to strengthen our neighborhoods,” says FutureHeights executive director Deanna Bremer Fisher. “The way we do that work is with our residents and strengthen their assets.”
 
The grass-roots program is loosely based on Cleveland’s Neighborhood Connections program, which offers grants of up to $5,000 for neighborhood enhancement projects and is partially responsible for the creation of popular events like Larchmere PorchFest.
 
Years ago, Bremer Fisher says neighborhood block clubs were prevalent in Cleveland Heights. While some of the groups still exist and thrive, such as in the Fairfax neighborhood where the block has as many as 10 events a year, many of the groups have dissolved.
 
“This will be an incentive to be able to do small projects – do little things from a social aspect or physical appearance,” says Bremer Fisher. “Whether it’s a project that works on some aspect of physical appearance or strengthens a social network, we’re really open to all ideas. Let’s talk about it.”
 
FutureHeights has $7,500 budgeted for the mini-grants. Groups must consist of at least three people in the same neighborhood, and they will be required to match 20 percent of the grant in either money or volunteer hours.
 
 The organization plans to offer the program again in the spring, depending on the interest. “We have no idea what kind of response we’ll get,” Bremer Fisher says. The application deadline is September 15. An informational meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, July 29 at 7pm at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Lee Road Library.

Dinner Lab launches first event at smARTspace in 78th Street Studios

Dinner Lab introduced Clevelanders to its social dining experiment last Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24 at smARTspace in the 78th Street Studios. Known as a pop-up restaurant event where up-and-coming chefs present new menus and concepts and then gather feedback, Cleveland marks Dinner Lab’s 33rd location in the country.

 
Chef Danny Espinoza of Chicago was the featured chef last week – offering diners his Anomar five-course modern Mexican menu. “”These are my roots as a Mexican and I am feeding it to you subliminally,” Espinoza said on Friday night’s menu. “My food is inspired by my grandmother. Tonight should feel like a party at her house.”
 
Anomar, is in fact his grandmother’s name, Ramona, spelled backwards. Espinoza shared with the diners that he grew up watching her cook and began to take interest in how she made her food at age 15. “I’m not going to give you the smallest, cutest little thing,” he promised. “I want to leave here not full, but satisfied.”
 
Espinoza's menu included a calamari salad, a pork and jicama tostada, fried chicken with cilantro grits, mahi mahi with mole verde and cake with roasted peanuts, strawberries and goats milk caramel. Half of the future chefs be locally based and half from out of town.
 
 Nearly 200 people have signed up for Dinner Lab memberships since the organization announced in April it was coming to Cleveland. Donna Debbs came Friday with a friend. “I think I’m like a baby chef at home,” the Glenville resident says. “I love food, meeting people and I wanted to broaden my network. Dinner Lab caters to a combination of things.”
 
Pat and Trudy Pauken became members because they love trying innovative food and socializing with new people. “We’re pretty adventurous food-wise, and we’re always open to new things and going to new restaurants,” says Pat. Trudy signed the pair up as soon as she heard about Dinner Lab. “I knew the concept, but you don’t know where it’s going to be and you don’t know the chef," she says. "I thought it would be fun going to different places.”
 
The memberships cost $125 per year and members can bring up to three guests with them. Each dinner is then an additional $50 to $65 per person and includes drinks. Members are informed of the date, chef and menu three weeks prior to the event, but are not told the location until 24 hours prior to the dinner.
 
Espinoza will soon be opening his own restaurant and was recently named to the Zagat Chicago 30 Under 30 list. The next Cleveland Dinner Lab is scheduled for August 18 and 19 and will feature chef Brooks Hart and his menu "Beer! Please! Drunk Food Redefined."

Content Marketing World adds an entrepreneurial segment to its 2015 conference

 More than 3,500 professionals in marketing, communications, social media and public relations are expected to attend  2015 Content Marketing World – the largest event of its kind  -- on September 8-11 at the Cleveland Convention Center.

Over 100 speakers from companies including Kraft FoodsAvery Dennison and LinkedIn will cover the basics of content marketing to specific marketing strategies used by successful companies. The estimated economic impact of the conference is $3.6 million, according to Destination Cleveland
 
Unlike past years, this year's conference will cover the entrepreneurial market , says Content Marketing Institute founder and event coordinator Joe Pulizzi. The content marketing expert will host the Content Inc. Summit, geared specifically at entrepreneurs and small business owners on the last day of this year's conference on September 11. 
 
“There is a better way to launch a business today,” says Pulizzi. “Build an audience first. Once you build an audience, you can launch the business.”
 
By building an audience based on content, says Pulizzi, the entrepreneur can learn more about what the target market desires. “Anybody who wants to be their own boss in any industry, this is the way to go,” he says. “It takes patience, but it’s absolutely worth it.”
 
The Content Inc. Summit will feature a presentation by Pulizzi on “Six Steps to Content Marketing Domination,” as outlined in his book of the same title. Five additional speakers include Matthew Patrick, founder of Game Theory; John Lee Dumas, founder of EntrepreneurOnFire; and Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger Media.
 
Register online for the Content Inc. Summit, or register for the entire conference until September 4. 

Jakprints combines cutting edge print technology with environmental standards

Custom printing company Jakprints has always been on the cutting edge with its technology as well as  its commitment to the environment. Jakprints recently teamed up with Heidelberg USA to bring the Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor press to its offices. The green-friendly press is the first  of its kind to be installed in North America, says CEO Nick DeTomaso.
 
While Jakprints has been doing digital printing for the past 13 of its 16 years in business, DeTomaso has never seen the quality Heidelberg’s new press offers in terms of both quality and speed.  

“The technology has matured, but it’s evolved quickly enough that it changes,” he says. “We’re very heavily involved in the graphic design community, and they have an eye for quality.”
 
The Speedmaster is billed as having the top efficiency, versatility and environmental friendliness in a digital format. “Everybody’s trying to get digital print efficiency,” says DeTomaso. “For the printing industry of America, this is the direct mail wave of the future.”
 
In addition, the Speedmaster fits with Jakprints’ environmental commitment. The press uses only 20 to 30 sheets of paper to make something ready for printing, whereas older offset models use between 500 and 1,000 sheets.
 
“That motivated us to make this move,” says DeTomaso. “We’ve always found ways to reduce waste. This is a huge advancement for us and will save over one million press sheets this year.”
 
Jakprints also uses only soy and vegetable-based inks with zero-VOC press washes. Founded by Dameon Guess and Jacob Edwards, the company has grown to 250 employees in its Midtown headquarters and has earned a reputation for being environmentally conscientious. 

Citizens Bank gives ECDI a $1 million line of credit to help grow businesses, create jobs

Citizens Bank is giving the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI) a $1 million line of credit to help finance loans to new and expanding businesses. ECDI provides loans between $500 and $350,000 to business owners and entrepreneurs trying to start or grow their businesses who might otherwise not be able to secure a loan.
 
ECDI's Cleveland office will receive the majority of the money, says Eric Diamond, executive vice president of ECDI Cleveland. “We will have a little more than 50 percent in this area because our loan volume is pretty high,” he says. “We expect to see a 30 percent increase in loan volume this year over last year.”
 
ECDI and Citizens have regularly worked together on securing loans for ECDI clients and have formed a good relationship, Diamond says . ECDI works with the SBA in addition to a variety of banks when funding a loan.
 
“Without us getting funding, we couldn’t fund other people,” says Diamond, adding that their average loan is about $25,000.
 
ECDI, which also has offices  offices in Columbus, Toledo and Akron, is the fourth largest SBA micro-lender in the United States and a U.S. Treasury-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Since the organization was started in Columbus in 2004, ECDI has assisted over 5,000 entrepreneurs, loaned over $25 million to over 1,200 businesses, and created and retained over 4,500 jobs across the state.  
 
The Cleveland ECDI office alone has funded approximately $5.3 million to more than 130 businesses since it started in 2012. “Citizens really understands CDFIs and they’ve spent a lot of time with us,” says Diamond. “They really know business and they are a class act to work with.”
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