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One thousand turkeys heading to Central neighborhood

A pair of Cleveland entities are partnering to spread good cheer and nutritious food to underserved Central neighborhood families this holiday season.
 
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diocese of Cleveland (SVDP) will distribute 1,000 frozen turkeys and five-pound bags of potatoes in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland parking lot, 2561 East 59th St., on Wednesday, December 14.
 
The giveaway starts at 8:30 a.m. and will continue while supplies last, says Natalie Schrimpf, marketing and development manager with the century-old human services organization. Providing the food is Fortney & Weygandt, Inc., a North Olmsted commercial construction firm now in its 10th year of supplying holiday nourishment to needy residents.
 
Volunteers from the construction company and SVDP Woodland Food Center will hand out goods to people from Central and surrounding communities. No advanced registration is required, but attendees must present a driver's license or other form of identification, notes Schrimpf.
 
According to Greater Cleveland Food Bank statistics, Central is home to 10,717 impoverished, making SVDP's food donation critical in residents' ability to serve a Christmas meal.
 
"For people who are food insecure, everything from having money to pay rent or buy clothes for their children can be a crisis," says Schrimpf. "Aid for hunger relief is magnified for low-income families, especially around the holidays."
 
Schrimpf, who has attended the last two giveaways, says the event is far from dour or downbeat. Coffee and cocoa are available for folks waiting in the cold, while volunteers greet attendees with smiles and warm words.
 
"We make it a happy occasion," Schrimpf says.
 
The Christmas food drive is one facet of SVDP's service to an economically-disadvantaged population. Last year, the organization provided $7 million in aid to more than 240,000 low-income individuals in the form of food, clothing, school supplies and assistance with utilities and rent. 
 
Similar to its work throughout the year, SVDP's holiday-themed helping hand wouldn't happen without the generosity of area donors, volunteers and organizational partners, Schrimpf says. Face-to-face assistance for those suffering from generational poverty, regardless of race, ethnicity or religious background, must be a year-round endeavor.
 
"We value our partners," says Schrimpf. "We wouldn't be able to help people in our community without them." 

Organization stresses unification for African-American professionals, others

Sometimes people need a little push to access business opportunities in Cleveland - and one umbrella consulting venture is providing that motivation for area African-American professional groups.

The Consortium of African-American Organizations (CAAO) serves as a referral source for entrepreneurial, professional and leadership development across eight member groups communicating with over 30,000 Cleveland black professionals.
 
Benefits include job referrals and business leads, says executive director William Holdipp. With entrepreneurial development a primary focus, CAAO (pronounced K-O) works with diversity programs at Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic to foster relationships between high-level officials and business owners. Forging those strong links teaches entrepreneurs how to organize future business meetings with Cleveland's executive class.
 
"We educate our members to the point where they no longer need us in the middle," Holdipp says. "We want business owners to make such good connections that they're comfortable meeting top executives in the future."
 
About 20 to 30 local high-ranking officials also volunteer with CAAO. An executive from General Electric recently flew a pair of newbie entrepreneurs by private jet to two company sites, showing them the intricacies of a smoothly running enterprise.
 
"We want to take local businesses to the next level, and that includes access to these types of opportunities," says Holdipp.
 
Individuals who donate to CAAO, meanwhile, receive coaching and other perks aimed at new entrepreneurs and folks changing careers. In addition, the consortium connects with young people between the ages of 10 to 19 by teaching them the critical thinking skills needed to make the transition from high school to college.
 
CAAO's range of activities is designed to narrow an information gap exacerbated by established networks that may not be welcoming to new members, Holdipp says. Under the consortium's umbrella are local chapters of national associations as well as community development corporations. All share a mission to build the African-American community, a goal that for CAAO has evolved over the years to welcome Hispanic and Caucasian members.
 
Unification is needed now more than ever, considering the economic uncertainties of the forthcoming Trump administration, Holdipp says.
 
"Cleveland is challenged by segregation; it's a struggle we have to figure out," he says. "It doesn't just mean working with the African-American community, but working with all communities to make things happen." 
 

Innovation and economic development are the heart of CSU, St. Vincent collaboration

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Cleveland State University are a long-standing pair of downtown Cleveland economic and academic anchors. Now the two entities are combining forces to cultivate new research innovations that could have further impact on the city, proponents say.
 
Announced at an October 12 St. Vincent fundraising event, the collaboration focuses on expansion of the existing Campus District medical and academic hub. While early in its lifespan, the partnership has realized 35 projects in various stages of progress, says Thom Olmstead, the medical center's director of university collaborations.
 
"With CSU down the street, there were some obvious opportunities to collaborate," says Olmstead. "A multi-disciplinary approach can drive these concepts."
 
Work over the last 11 months has included crossover between St. Vincent and faculty from the university's engineering, science, nursing and law colleges. The medical institution also currently serves as a teaching site for CSU's joint degree program with Northeast Ohio Medical University, which trains its charges to meet the unique healthcare needs of urban neighborhoods.
 
An alliance between St. Vincent’s Spine & Orthopedic Institute and CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering, meanwhile, has resulted in new prosthetic technology and rehabilitation techniques.
 
With more than a half-million dollars earmarked for future projects, institution leaders are planning additional partnership endeavors. Among them is St. Vincent residents using CSU's simulation lab for training in cardiac events and other medical emergencies. In addition, hospital trainees are now embedded as observers at the college's speech and hearing clinic.
 
"The model is an academic medical campus, and CSU is only a couple of hundred yards away," says Olmstead.
 
This latest collaboration reinvigorates ties between the institutions fostered six years ago by St. Vincent president and CEO David Perse. New projects will not only further bind the involved groups, but increase in scope and sophistication to have a wider influence on Cleveland's economic development future as well.
 
"This partnership isn't just marrying capabilities on either side, it's showing how we can be significant in revitalizing the neighborhood," Olmstead says. "We're happy to work with CSU. The impact they have on the community is very important to them, and aligns very well with what we're doing."
 

Bakery with Latin flair set to open in Brooklyn Centre

"If you don't try anything, you never know what will happen."
 
Such is the mindset of Lyz Otero, owner of Half Moon Bakery, a soon-to-be-opened seller of traditional Latin pastries and empanadas. Otero took the leap with a little help from the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), an organization that in August announced more than $530,000 in loans to 21 Cleveland-area businesses.
 
Nineteen of those loans were to new minority- or women-owned ventures, with Puerto Rico native Otero receiving $50,000 for equipment and improvements to her 1,200 square-foot space at 3800 Pearl Rd. Otero and husband Gerson Velasquez are using the funding to pay contractors and architects, as well as buy stove hoods and other gear. ECDI also provided the couple with financial management and computer classes.
 
Otero is aiming for an early November launch for a bakery offering a dozen types of empanadas. The new entrepreneur looks forward to stuffing the half-moon shaped pastry turnovers with endless combinations of meat, vegetables and fruit.
 
"It will almost be like a pizzeria, but with empanadas," says Otero. "Everything you put on a pizza can go on an empanada."
 
Vegan and gluten-free empanadas will be on the menu, joining Latin cuisine like rice and tamales. Fresh bread, cupcakes and other delectable confections round out the selection. Otero will create the bakery's pastry products, with her husband serving as chef. During the next month, she expects to hire on two cashiers and an additional cook.
 
While the smaller space will focus on take-out orders, patrons can eat inside on stools along the window. Outdoor seating, meanwhile, is a possibility for warm-weather months.
 
Opening the business has been both exciting and nerve-wracking. Though no stranger to the restaurant industry - past employers include Zack Bruell and Michael Symon - there's nothing for Otero like working for herself. Friend Wendy Thompson, owner of A Cookie and a Cupcake, encouraged her to start a bakery with a unique Latin flair.
 
"We're focusing on gourmet empanadas, which nobody else around here is doing," says Otero. "You never see a place like this where there's so many different kinds of empanadas."
 
Ultimately, Otero wants to leave a delicious, profitable legacy for her three children, ages 4, 6 and 7.
 
"I've always dreamed to do this," she says. "I had to step up and follow my dreams, because nobody was going to do it for me." 

ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Area students connect with seniors via Aeronauts project

The U.S. has 78 million baby boomers either entering or approaching retirement, a trend presenting an enormous challenge for the nation's healthcare system. Area young people are learning about this demographic shift through a program that, if successful, will teach them to develop high-tech tools enabling seniors to age in place.
 
Students from Shaker Heights High School, North Olmsted High School, Cuyahoga Community College and the University of California, Irvine, are part of the Aeronauts 2000 Intergenerational Project, which engages science-based learning to understand the aging process and identify technological solutions that foster independent living.
 
Led by the Center for Intellectual Property, Technology and Telecommunications, Inc. (CIPTT), the program draws a correlation between aging and the physiological effects of outer space travel. Student-led field work resulted in a board game where players young and old acquire the resources needed to survive on Mars through questions on aging and the effects of space exploration.
 
This summer, young contributors also began drafting a multi-purpose vehicle, deep space habitat and diagnostic tools for a video game on long-term spaceflight's relation to the aging process. Student-produced 3D design images will be presented this fall at senior community events as well as a Tri-C conference, notes program director Andrea Johnson.

Johnson, director at CIPTT, says research has made her students sensitive to challenges faced by older generations. As space flight can accelerate health and cognitive issues for astronauts, seniors as they age experience sensory impairment, diminished mental performance and brittle bones. Project participants witnessed these impacts first-hand via bonding exercises with seniors at Eliza Bryant Village, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and the Tri-C-sponsored Encore Program.
 
"Many seniors feel invisible, disrespected or like they don't have a role in society," says Johnson. "We asked ourselves how kids would respond to a group they would usually dismiss."
 
Ultimately, the project is preparing "Aernoauts" for technology and healthcare employment, Johnson says. With increased nationwide interest in gerontechnology -  the interdisciplinary academic and professional field combing gerontology and technology - students are ready to create innovations that increase quality of life for an aging demographic. Program members are currently designing a cane with a built-in heart rate monitor, representing only one way tomorrow's technology leaders can improve the lives of older adults today.
 
"Students have creativity that can be harnessed to come up with solutions," says Johnson. "It's a matter of engaging them to get them to focus on an aging population. That kind of innovation is going to position them for future jobs."  

High-tech rebranding initiative markets Cleveland as a 'medical capital'

Cleveland is home to more than 700 bioscience companies, a powerful ecosystem that draws strength from a clinical, research and educational foundation dedicated to growth and medical innovation. A new rebranding initiative led by a host of area institutions is ready to send this message out into the world.

Called "The Medical Capital," the campaign's centerpiece is a website where visitors can access information regarding biomedical investments and start-up activity in the region. Organizers are also offering a video showcasing the region's burgeoning tech-based assets, complete with testimonials from investors and CEOs. Social media is another facet of the effort.

BioEnterprise president and CEO Aram Nerpouni, whose not-for-profit business accelerator is helping to administer the project, says the website will aggregate locally generated biomedical industry news to share Cleveland's rebranding story all in one place.

"Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have an incredibly rich history in healthcare innovation," says Nerpouni. "Over the last 10 years, (biomedical) has become an important part of the economy where you're seeing investors commit capital to the region."

According to BioEnterprise, Northeast Ohio has attracted more than $2 billion in biomedical start-up equity funding since 2002. About $1 billion has been raised by 160 biomedical companies in the last four years alone, which proponents view as a sign of an increasingly robust innovation economy bolstered by research and commercialization.

Organizations collaborating on the new initiative include BioEnterprise, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland State University. Though Cleveland is not the first city to promote its high-tech attributes online, the venture is unique in its collaboration of multiple nationally ranked and independent institutions, all striving to promote a unified biomedical environment.

"There's a breadth of participation through industries and philanthropic and civic support,"  says Nerpouni. "Everyone in the region should know that healthcare and biomedical are key to our economic growth."

The Medical Capital campaign will also push Cleveland's story outside of Northeast Ohio, adds the BioEnterprise official. Long term, a sustained influx of funding and talent will further nurture the area's biomedical network.

"It's about creating a critical mass that's self-sustaining and thriving," Nerpouni says.

"It's a remarkable time for Cleveland. We want biomedical to continue to be part of the city's renaissance." 

Cleveland Codes graduates its first class from intensive tech program

Nonprofit coding camp Cleveland Codes celebrated its first graduating class on June 30, a milestone that founder and social entrepreneur Matt Fieldman says is only the first of many for the tech-based certificate program.
 
Eleven of the coding school's initial 14-member cohort will move onto paid internships at companies including Medical Mutual, Third Federal Savings & Loan and Hose Master. As the venture seeks to place its last three graduates -  which, like their compatriots, are low-income adults from Cleveland -  Fieldman is confident area businesses will want coders with the skills his former students possess.
 
Over the 16-week class that began in March, participants learned coding languages in an intense, demanding environment, says Fieldman. Students were also taught critical soft skills such as resume writing and interviewing.

A high-pressure atmosphere creating a potential labor source has already been proven by Edwins Restaurant and Leadership Institute, an upscale restaurant co-founded by Fieldman that trains and employs the formerly incarcerated.
 
"If you give people the right training and support, they're going to rise to the challenge," he says.
 
About 120 applicants were pared down to 15 for the coding camp's first year. Though one student dropped the course, the remainder stayed on to harness free schooling, transportation and meals, paid for through grants from the Tri-C Foundation and the state's OhioMeansJobs program. Forty percent of participants were women, while 40 percent of the entire cohort represented minorities.
 
Newly-minted grads showcased the fruits of their hard work June 29 during an event at the Advanced Training & Technology Center (ATTC) on Cuyahoga Community College's metro campus.
 
As part of a class capstone project, students built an app based on NEO+natal, a proposal that took second place at the Cleveland Medical Hackathon last year and is designed to combat the region's high infant mortality rates. The project features a unique risk profile for mothers based on publicly available demographic and geographic data. With this information in hand, the Cleveland Codes app creators drew up a short questionnaire that could be used by a community health worker to assess a mother's risk level.

Efforts such as NEO+natal, says Fieldman, are emblematic of a talent pool ready for full-time technical work that can earn them upwards of $50,000 at the entry level.
 
"When you learn a skill that will propel your career for the next 50 years, that's really exciting," he adds. "It's great to see people who work with their hands have a bright future."
 
Cleveland Codes' second cohort starts in August, with two more planned for the fall. Fieldman envisions bigger classes that, upon graduation, move on as a whole to companies such as Hyland Software.
 
"We want to see this model grow and serve more communities," he says. "Companies complain about the lack of coding talent. This is an alternative where we want them to say, 'Yes, we want to work with you.'"

Summer program for collegians to foster area 'brain gain'

Over the next nine weeks, 70 college students from eight campuses will intern at 46 Cleveland-area companies as part of Summer on the Cuyahoga (SOTC) program. Should all go well, a percentage of those students will return to town one day on a more permanent basis, organizers say.
 
SOTC, an economic development initiative designed to connect talented young professionals to Northeast Ohio, kicked off its summer program last week with a reception at Pura Vida in Public Square.  Students from this year's group hail from eight SOTC partner schools: Case Western Reserve University, Colgate, Cornell, Denison, Ohio Wesleyan, Smith, University of Chicago and Yale. They come to Cleveland from 24 states and five foreign countries.
 
SOTC is the only college internship program where participants fully immerse themselves in a downtown environment, says executive director Jean Koehler.  By day, students will work full-time at companies and organizations such as KeyBank and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Nights and weekends will be spent exploring the city's cultural, civic and recreational amenities before settling in at the Fenn Tower dorms on the Cleveland State University campus.
 
"These students are living as young professionals; it's real-life living," says Koehler.
 
Program officials will take their charges on behind-the-scenes tours of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Students will also engage in discussions on community development, and meet other YPs who chose to launch their careers in Cleveland.
 
SOTC's long-range goal is to have interns build networks and relocate to Greater Cleveland. To that end, the program matches new recruits with area alumni from their respective schools, some of whom are also graduates of the internship venture.
 
"Our interns always have a great experience," she says. "One hundred percent of last year's group had an affinity toward Cleveland and would recommend the program to their friends."
 
The return to the North Coast of 21 interns from last year's cohort - including 12 college graduates who accepted full-time positions here - reflects the strength of a talent-gathering effort now in its 14th year, says Koehler.
 
"We want to keep Cleveland on the radar of people who wouldn't come here (without the program)," she says. "If we can keep interns engaged enough to move here or even do business, our impact is going to be that much greater."
 
Cleveland's smaller size makes it an attractive option for a generation keen on making a difference in their community, Koehler says. SOTC leaders make sure to introduce interns to local changemakers, yet another way to ensure the program's influence lasts well beyond the summer.
 
"You can be a big fish in a small town here," says Koehler. "If you want to make that kind of impact, it's easier to do it in Cleveland than in New York or Boston."

Bloom Bakery raising 'dough' to help others

"Creating jobs is our secret ingredient."
 
Such is the slogan of Bloom Bakery, a downtown entity that offers premium pastries and breads as well as opportunities for Clevelanders facing employment barriers. Now the social venture is asking for a little extra "dough" to continue its mission.
 
Last week, Bloom Bakery launched a $25,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to provide capital for its Campus District location at 1938 Euclid Ave. (The bakery has another shop at 200 Public Square.) Funding will go to hiring additional staff, says Logan Fahey, Bloom Bakery co-founder and general manager.
 
"Our reason for doing (crowdfunding) was to get the community involved," says Fahey. "We rely on the consumer to find us and appreciate the mission."
 
Supporters can pre-purchase coffee, lunch, corporate catering, and exclusive baking lessons before the campaign ends June 10. Bloom Bakery is a benefit corporation - essentially a hybrid of a standard corporation and a nonprofit - owned by Towards Employment, a Cleveland nonprofit that offers job training and placement as well as removal of employment barriers for people previously involved in the criminal justice system.
 
All revenue from Bloom Bakery goes to Towards Employment's job readiness programs. Meanwhile, the bakery educates, trains and employs low-income and disadvantaged adults for work as bakers, baristas and other positions. Entry-level jobs pay $8 to $10 hourly, with opportunities available for upward mobility within the company.
 
"Our sole purpose is to give a second chance to individuals who otherwise wouldn't get one," Fahey says. "These jobs can be resume builders or allow people to move onto supervisory positions here."
 
Bloom Bakery currently has 15 staff members, ranging in age from their 20s to early 60s. New employees are vetted through Towards Employment programming, then undergo another month of training at the bakery.
 
As of this writing, the social venture's crowdfunding effort has reached 10 percent of its goal. Fahey and his fellow staff members will spend the next couple of weeks pushing the campaign via social media and word-of-mouth. The ultimate goal is to become the state's best bakery while continuing to operate as a "business with a heart."
 
"There's a large segment of the population in need of an opportunity," says Fahey. "If we become the best bakery, then we can create as many jobs as we want." 

The ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support community.

Cleveland's growing 'maker movement' the focus of TV host's visit

In recent years, Cleveland has demonstrated itself as an early adopter of the "maker movement," an umbrella term for the convergence of independent inventors and designers who relish the creation of new high-tech devices as well as tinkering with existing ones.
 
An April 27 visit by movement advocate and former Mythbusters host Adam Savage put a national spotlight on the North Coast's growing DIY fervor, with Savage meeting area stakeholders and community leaders to help foster support for the next generation of innovators. The day-long event was designed as a lead-up to the 2016 National Week of Making (June 17-23), announced earlier this year by the White House.
 
“This visit was intended to highlight the growing ecosystem of making and fabricating in Cleveland," says Lisa Camp, associate dean for strategic initiatives at the Case Western Reserve University school of engineering, who prepared the day's activates along with Sonya Pryor-Jones, chief implementation officer for the MIT Fab Foundation. "There's lots of excitement from people who want to work together because of the potential of these spaces."
 
Savage's first stop was Case's think[box], tabbed by the school as an open-access center for innovation and entrepreneurship. The 50,000-square-foot space in the Richey Mixon Building invites would-be creators to realize their ideas through digital prototyping or traditional fabricating. A $35 million renovation of the seven-story building began in 2014. The upper three floors are scheduled for completion this fall.
 
Each floor represents the order of the product design process, with new entrepreneurs receiving the necessary technology and guidance as they work their way up.
 
"The concept is to begin with a product idea, then come out with a company," says Camp.

Other stops on Savage's Cleveland makers tour included Design Lab High School, Cleveland Public Library's TechCentral maker space, the MC2 STEM high school at Great Lakes Science Center, and several fabrication locals in Cleveland's Slavic Village and Central neighborhoods.
 
"It was a robust visit," says Pryor-Jones. "From our perspective, the best opportunities for education, entrepreneurship and  development exist when we figure out how to engage all communities."
 
During an outing to the City Club of Cleveland, regional higher-education students showcased potential products they fabricated themselves with 3D printers and laser cutters. This kind of collaborative ingenuity will be needed to drive Cleveland's economic engine, spinning out companies that build everything from heart-rate monitors to fuel-cell powered bicycles.
 
"Keeping up that collaboration is the challenge," says Camp. "Cleveland is a manufacturing city and working together can bring innovation to that space." 

New CSU engineering building to emphasize high-tech teamwork

Enrollment at Cleveland State University's engineering school has doubled over the last five years, making the program's planned $46.2 million new building a necessity. The facility, which is scheduled to open in 2017, will offer spacious, high-tech work areas to accommodate the recent influx of students, school officials say.
 
Though the proposed 100,000 square-foot facility is about 10,000 square feet smaller than the engineering college's current location at Fenn Hall, its open floor plan will better meet the demands of an academic environment where collaboration is key, says Anette Karlsson, dean of the Washkewicz College of Engineering at CSU.
 
Fenn Hall will remain, while the new building will be erected nearby along Chester Avenue just west of East 24th Street. Architects for the project include Harley Ellis Devereaux and Cleveland firm CBLH Design Cleveland-based Knight & Stolar is on board as the venture's civil engineer. 
 
Unlike the closed-off, column-filled classrooms at Fenn, the facility will have a 6,000-square-foot "makerspace" boasting a variety of machine-shop gear as well as 3D printers, laser cutters and other tools.
 
"It's one big area that will be divided into compartments," says Karlsson. "We're very excited about getting students a space that will give them the hands-on experience they need."
 
New engineering majors, meanwhile, will interact and create in a specially designated design area for freshman.
 
"It's more of a prototyping room where they can build light materials like plastics and paper," says Karlsson. "The idea is to teach the concept of design."
 
Other building plans include a hydraulics lab and classrooms. The larger design spaces will be separated by glass walls, which will let in natural light and further emphasize a sense of DIY ambiance. The new facility's interactive trappings were inspired by, among other projects, the Sears think[box] innovation center at Case Western Reserve University.
 
"We want the space to be open because were doing all these fun things," Karlsson says. "We want to show off what we're doing."
 
Ideally, students from all majors will use the facility to collaborate and build whatever their imaginations conjure.
 
"The first thing an employer asks about is a graduate's interpersonal and communication skills," says Karlsson. "Those (skills) are what students can learn by working in groups." 

RTA on track for new East 34th Street rapid station, say officials

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is making progress on a new rapid station set for the site of the current station at 2830 E. 34th St. A community meeting to discuss the proposed improvements will take place tonight at 6 p.m. at Cuyahoga Community College's Metro Campus Student Center.
 
The preliminary design for the $7.5 million project was shown to RTA's board of trustees on March 1, while an updated station design proposal was completed earlier this month. The new station, which like its current iteration on East 34th Street, will serve all three rapid lines, and be upgraded with better lighting and ADA-compliant features.
 
Attendees of tonight's get-together will see the same design concept presented to board members, says Mike Schipper, RTA assistant general manager of engineering.

"Our next step is to get feedback from the public," says Schipper.
 
The plan's design phase will wrap by December, when RTA also expects to begin the construction bidding process. Work is scheduled to start next spring and will take a year to complete, officials say.  
 
Plans for the new station include relocating the main entrance to the intersection of East 34th Street and Broadway Avenue, a space which will also offer a covered waiting area for riders, says Schipper. New LED lighting and a disabled-accessible ramp are among the project's other highlights. 

Though close to Tri-C's metro campus, the East 34th Street station currently does not get much use, Schipper says. However, thanks in part to the advocacy of Campus District stakeholders, RTA agreed to design and build a new facility instead of closing it altogether. 
 
The district's community development group has committed to work with RTA after the new station is finished to promote increased ridership. Proximity to Tri-C as well as special rates for students could give those figures an additional boost.
 
"We hope as we rebuild the station Tri-C will engage surrounding businesses and the Campus District as a whole," says Schipper, adding that a built-out rapid facility can also compliment a community that's undergone heavy development in recent years.
 
"This is our investment in the area," says Schipper. "We look forward to growing with the neighborhood."

Tri-C instructor wins award for drawing students into unheralded profession

 
Stenographic court reporters must have quick fingers, exceptional listening abilities and a microscopic attention to detail. Over the last 10 years, Kelly Moranz has been creating the programs and curriculum that teach these skills to potential stenographers attending Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C).
 
Moranz's decade of service was recognized  last month with an award from the the Journal of Court Reporting (JCR), a publication of The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). The award highlighted the longtime program manager and Tri-C faculty member's work in leading students to lucrative jobs as court reporters, legal videographers and voice captioners.  
 
Moranz is also in charge of recruiting trainees for a profession that is not exactly at the top of a job seeker's most-wanted list. "People don't roll out of bed and say they'll be a court reporter," says the Old Brooklyn resident. "We have to get out there and make it known."
 
The JCR award is student-driven, making the honor especially meaningful. "I can't put into words what it means to be nominated by a student," Moranz  says. "Giving them the drive to succeed is just my job."

In court reporting, professionals use a stenotype machine or voice-writing technology to instantaneously capture words spoken at a legal proceeding or other event. Tri-C offers training on steno and specialized voice-capturing software that allows individuals to transfer speech into shorthand at a minimum of 225 words-per-minute. Students spend two to three hours daily sharpening both their speed and accuracy to keep pace with an average rate of speech that clocks in at 160 to 180 words-per-minute.
 
"It's a rare skill that's in demand," says Moranz of a vocation projected to have 5,500 new openings nationwide by 2018. "You've got to listen and write everything being said in a language we teach you. I like to say that court reporters are the original texters."
 
Moranz spearheads mentoring efforts as well as a 45-member captioning and court reporting club. She's also presented information about court reporting to Tri-C's Women in Transition program, which addresses women changing occupations or pursuing second careers.
 
With outreach being a key aspect of the job, Moranz has spoken at high schools to recruit those interested in the opportunity. Program grads may move into a court setting to record real-time transcriptions of a deposition or trial. Outside a courtroom, stenographers are employed by businesses, where their work is used for meetings and events. Closed-captioning for live television programs, speeches and religious services is another expanding area of the field.
 
Whatever job a graduate chooses, they should have a solid grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling, along with high concentration levels and a willingness to spend hours polishing their skill set, says Moranz. The end result can be a career with an initial salary of $45,000 to $55,000, with top stenographers earning up to six figures.
 
For her part, Moranz will be happy if her award sheds some light on an oft-underappreciated career path.
 
"I'm proud to have the opportunity to change peoples' lives with an exciting profession," she says. 

This story was made possible by a partnership with Cuyahoga Community College.

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress announces finalists for Vibrant City Awards

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) has announced 21 finalists for its 2016 Vibrant City Awards. Winners will be revealed on May 2 at the second annual Vibrant City Awards Lunch, hosted by CNP and presented by Key Bank and Community Blight Solutions.
 
“We are proud to convene community partners and stakeholders to celebrate city neighborhoods. These leading efforts in neighborhood revitalization are what help us all create a vibrant city,” says Joel Ratner, president and CEO of CNP. “The organizations and individuals being honored have displayed tremendous passion, dedication and collaboration. We’re excited to recognize them for their successful efforts in community development.”
 
CNP received more than 70 nominations for this year's awards.
 
“The complete list of nominations tells an inspiring story of neighborhood transformation that is taking place in Cleveland," says Jeff Kipp, CNP's director of neighborhood marketing for the organization. "From community development corporations to corporate partners and everyone in between, there are amazing people performing incredible work in our neighborhoods.”
 
Additionally, CNP will present the Morton L. Mandel Leadership in Community Development Award and the first ever Vibrant City Impact Award at the May 2 luncheon. During the event, civic leaders, community development professionals, local developers, investors, realtors and passionate Clevelanders will gather to celebrate neighborhoods at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium, 3615 Euclid Ave., an iconic structure located in Midtown on the RTA Healthline. A locally sourced meal catered by chef Chris Hodgson of Driftwood Catering will be served. This event is open to the public. More information and registration details are available online.
 
The 2016 Vibrant City Awards finalists include:
 
• CDC Community Collaboration Award
 
Ohio City Inc. – Station Hope
Held in May 2015, Station Hope, a collaboration of Ohio City, Inc., Cleveland Public Theatre, Saint John’s Episcopal Church and Councilman Joe Cimperman, was a free multi-arts event that celebrated the history of St. John’s Church, the triumphs of the Underground Railroad, and contemporary struggles for freedom and justice. Station Hope featured a diverse selection of theatre and performance ensembles, including more than 30 companies and 150 individual artists.


 
Slavic Village Development – Cleveland Orchestra at Home in Slavic Village
In spring 2015, The Cleveland Orchestra At Home in Slavic Village residency brought a world-class orchestra to the Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood. Partners included Slavic Village Development, the Cleveland Orchestra, Broadway School of Music and the Arts, the Broadway Boys and Girls Club, cultural organizations, and area churches and schools. In April, the orchestra performed a free public concert for an audience of 1,000 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The residency continued throughout the year with a host of events.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office – La Placita
In 2015, the Stockyard, Clark Fulton and Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office partnered with the Hispanic Business Center and local businesses and entrepreneurs to launch La Placita, an open air market near the intersection of Clark Avenue and West 25th Street that featured 24 local vendors and cultural offerings for five Saturday events that attracted thousands. The events also served as an effective venue to showcase “La Villa Hispana,” which is home to a growing ethnic population in the City of Cleveland.
 
• CDC Placemaking Award
 
MidTown Cleveland – East 55th Street railroad bridge mural
The railroad bridge above the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 55th Street has been transformed into a symbol of the innovation and emerging economy embodied in the MidTown neighborhood and the Health-Tech Corridor. The mural, designed by Twist Creative, Inc., includes a graphic of DNA molecules, and logos of MidTown Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, BioEnterprise and the Cleveland Foundation.


 
Slavic Village Development – Cycle of Arches
The Cycle of Arches installation evokes allusions to nature such as trees or grasses bending in the wind, while nodding to the industrial heritage of the community by representing the neighborhood's "steel roots" with its steel tube construction. Part of the $8 million Broadway Streetscape and Road Improvement Project, the installation is located at the intersection of E.49th Street and Broadway Avenue. Jonathan Kurtz, AIA, designed Cycle of Arches. Partners included Slavic Village Development, Land Studio and the City of Cleveland.
 
University Circle Inc. – Wade Oval improvements
University Circle Inc. recently invested in several improvements to Wade Oval including a permanent musical park that offers four large-scale instruments, benches, Adirondack chairs and a chalkboard with the “This is CLE to Me…” tagline emblazoned across the top. Visitors are encouraged to creatively express themselves in this eclectic area.


 
• CDC Economic Opportunity Award
 
Famicos Foundation – Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program management
Famicos Foundation weaves together a diverse portfolio of economic opportunity programming to aid family financial stability in the Glenville neighborhood. In 2015, the organization helped complete 1,917 tax returns with a total refund of $2.3 million for residents. 549 of those returns were for EITC clients and those individuals received $869,000 in refunds. Also in 2015, while participating in a pilot program, Famicos referred 90 tax preparation clients interested in receiving one-on-one financial counseling to the Community Financial Centers.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office – La Placita
The Stockyard, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office was instrumental in the planning and implementation of "La Placita," which served as a catalyst project encouraging collaboration between the local CDC and stakeholders in the community. This initiative served as a business incubator for new businesses with free business training and as an accelerator for established businesses. Situated in an economically challenged food dessert, "La Placita" also served as an access point for fresh, affordable produce and culturally relevant prepared foods and ingredients.
 
University Circle, Inc. – Business outreach and development efforts
In 2015, University Circle Inc's business outreach and development efforts included three key components: the Uptown Business Association (UBA), NextStep: Strategies for Business Growth and a financial literacy and QuickBooks bookkeeping program, all of which fostered networking amid business owners in the greater University Circle area. UCI consistently convenes the 17 NextStep alumni, a current class of nine business owners, 65 UBA members, and seven bookkeeping program participants at UBA meetings to network, enhance their skills and find new opportunities. 
 
• CDC Neighborhood Branding & Marketing Award
 
Northeast Shores Development Corp. – Welcome to Collinwood website
With the help of the CDC, the neighborhood has taken its brand as Cleveland's premiere artists’ neighborhood to a new level with the Welcome to Collinwood website. The homepage offers an artistic display of images and designs, and visitors are met with compelling copy that boasts the compelling opportunities available to artists in Collinwood. 
 
Slavic Village Development – Rooms to Let
St. Rooms To Let, a temporary art installation in vacant homes created by Slavic Village Development, was a successful marketing event that changed perceptions about the surrounding neighborhood. In May 2015, more than 1,000 visitors toured St. Rooms to Let, which included installations by 30 artists, live music performances and activities for children.


 
Clair Superior Development Corp. & Campus District, Inc. – Night Market Cleveland
St. Clair Superior Development Corp. and Campus District Inc. teamed up last summer to spark awareness, foster a creative economy, and bring attention to the hidden gems of AsiaTown and the Superior Arts District with Night Market Cleveland - a series of four summer events with local art vendors, Asian food and cultural entertainment. The inaugural season attracted a staggering 50,000 attendees and garnered coverage in 22 media publications.
 
• Corporate Partner Award
 
Community Blight Solutions
Community Blight Solutions focuses on understanding, solving, and eliminating blight. Prominent solutions currently include promotion of the organization's SecureView product and the Slavic Village Recovery Project, which aims to align demolition and rehabilitation to eradicate blight one block at a time and fosters corporate volunteerism amid the area's for-profit partners. The project is also focused on gaining access to a critical mass of real estate owned properties and those that are abandoned with the intention of either demolition or rehabilitation.
 
Dave’s Supermarkets
Dave’s Supermarkets' portfolio of stores sells products that match the profile of the communities they serve while their employees and customer base reflect Cleveland’s diverse population. Asian, Hispanic, African American and Caucasian residents all feel at home at Dave’s Supermarket. Dave’s has provided significant financial support in the form of food donations to community organizations, churches, and neighborhood groups. The local chain employs over 1,000 people in 14 stores, providing health care and retirement benefits to hard-working Cleveland residents.
 
PNC Bank
PNC was the lead sponsor of UCI’s summer concert series, Wade Oval Wednesdays – WOW! - a free weekly concert that draws up to 5,000 attendees. In addition, PNC supported UCI’s Clean and Safe Ambassador program expansion from seasonal to year-round with twice as many staff.  Additionally, PNC supported the creation and development of a children’s map and activity book to complement UCI’s newest education initiative, Circle Walk, a 40-point interpretive program set to launch in May 2016.
 
• Urban Developer Award:
 
Case Development – Mike DeCesare
Mike DeCesare of Case Development has been a pioneer in residential development in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, which he also calls home. He successfully finished the Waverly Station community in 2015 and completed the Harborview development at Herman Avenue and West 54th Street.
 
Geis Companies – Fred Geis
Fred Geis instigated the MidTown Tech Park, which boasts nearly 250,000 square feet of office and laboratory space leased to health and technology firms, and is part of the growing Health-Tech corridor. One of Geis’s most transformational projects is The 9, into which Geis moved its headquarters from Streetsboro. This spring, Geis will break ground on an Ohio City project converting the industrial Storer Meat Co. facility into 67 market-rate apartments. Fred Geis was also recently appointed to the Cleveland Planning Commission and will donate his stipend to the Dream Neighborhood refugee housing initiative.
 
Vintage Development Group – Chip Marous
Vintage Development Group provides well-built multi-family residential properties in Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City, thereby helping to support the associated commercial districts with residential opportunities and financial support. Not to be content with the footprint of his Battery Park project, Marous has executed plans for expanding it. His passion for complete, walkable urban development is made possible through established relationships in Cleveland’s urban neighborhoods.
 
• Civic Champion Award:
 
Joseph Black – Central neighborhood
Joe Black is committed to Central neighborhood youth. He is currently the Neighborhood Engagement Manager for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. As the leader of the engagement team, he is responsible for fostering a seamless experience for youth and families to progress through their education from cradle to career. Black’s passion was sparked by personal experiences with the inequities linked to men of color, and has since matured into a responsibility to serve “at risk” communities. He is a tireless, dedicated community volunteer, mentoring youth at his day job as well as during his free time.
 
Charles Gliha – Slavic Village neighborhood
Lifelong Slavic Village resident Charles Gliha strives to improve the neighborhood with art, civic engagement and business development. As founder of Broadway Public Art, he has championed the Warszawa Music Festival, is the founder of Street Repair Music Festival, organizes the Polish Constitution Day Parade, and volunteers at Rooms to Let. Gliha is an active member of the Slavic Village Neighborhood Summit planning committee and hosts cash mobs and live music events in area retail establishments. He also created a printed business directory and garnered $25,000 in grants for the neighborhood.


 
Alison Lukacsy – Collinwood neighborhood
A Cleveland transplant turned North Collinwood artist, advocate and promoter, Alison Lukacsy sees opportunities where others see problems. She has secured over $20,000 in grants, resulting in projects such as Storefront Activation utilizing debris from Adopt-a-Beach cleanups, Phone Gallery - Cleveland's smallest curated art gallery, a Collinwood Vibrancy Project, Yarn n’ Yoga on Euclid Beach Pier, Euclid Beach Book Box, and Bus Stop Moves RTA shelter exercises.
 

Forbes editor: Cleveland must foster rise of the "digital native"

Not long ago, young entrepreneurs were designing software or other technological advancements far away from the old-guard industries that didn't rely on high-tech innovation to succeed.

Now that technology has infiltrated most every business, these youthful "digital natives" have a professional advantage, and it's up to Cleveland and similarly sized cities to be part of this powerful sea change, says Randall Lane, editor of Forbes.

"It's not just a Silicon Valley, or Austin, or Boston phenomenon," Lane says of what he believes to be a historically unprecedented event. "It can be a Cleveland phenomenon, or Minneapolis, or any city that wants to grow and tap into this audience."

Tech-savvy millennials grew up never knowing a time without the Internet, meaning their brains are wired for the intricacies of digital entrepreneurship from the jump, Lane told Fresh Water during a March 15 interview, a day before he spoke on the topic at the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center on the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) campus.

"This is a generation that no longer thinks that working for a big company is the be-all and end-all," says Lane, creator of Forbes'  popular 30 Under 30 lists as well as author of You Only Need to Be Right Once, which chronicles the rise of the young tech billionaire. "They understand there's no lifetime job anymore. The safest career move is becoming an entrepreneur and building an opportunity for yourself." 

The fact that high-tech ideas can take root virtually anywhere is a potential boon for Northeast Ohio, Lane says. Cleveland already has a critical mass of talent from CWRU and other nearby universities; it's a matter of convincing a sizeable percentage of these go-getting agents of change to stick around.  

Ultimately, Cleveland faces the same talent recruitment challenges as Pittsburgh, Columbus and other mid-sized cities that host academic institutions, Lane says.

"Regional schools here are already a national draw," he says. "The easiest thing for these smart, ambitious people to do would be to stay."

A walkable urban city has long been in Cleveland's plans. Creating that exciting culture, along with an environment that nurtures entrepreneurship, can help attract and keep the bright millennial tech heads who are transforming the business world.

"You've got to have enough for young people to say, 'I can plant a flag and grow with this place,'" Lane says. 
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