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Little Italy : Innovation + Job News

13 Little Italy Articles | Page:

Partner content podcast: What does Neighbor Up do?

The latest episode of "Neighbor Up Spotlight" is now available.

"Neighbor Up Spotlight: What does Neighbor Up do?" is a 15-minute kitchen table conversation between host Carol Malone and Neighbor Up member Tom O'Brien focusing on how Neighbor Up came together and what members are doing to make change in Cleveland.

Hosted by Malone, a Cleveland resident and activist, each episode of "Neighbor Up Spotlight" focuses on members of Neighbor Up, a network of approximately 2,000 Greater Cleveland residents making positive change in their neighborhoods. This resident-driven social change movement is about bringing equity to all Cleveland neighborhoods.

Listen to “Neighbor Up Spotlight" on Soundcloud or download episodes from iTunes. Or just click below to hear the latest edition right now.

Support for this series, "Grassroots Success: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods," is provided by Neighborhood Connections.

By empowering the people, Neighborhood Connections enables lasting grassroots change

This series of stories, "Grassroots Success: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods," explores how meaningful impact on our communities grows from the ground up. Support for "Grassroots Success" is provided by Neighborhood Connections and NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology.
Increasingly, people are feeling that elected officials, leaders, and large institutions do not reflect or respect their interests, concerns, or needs. People feel polarized, left out, unseen, and not represented. At times, it can even feel like it's us verses them. One local organization, however, Neighborhood Connections and its program director Tom O’Brien, wants residents to know that we are all in this together.
“We don’t need to go into our corners; we need to find common ground,” says O'Brien. "This [organization] is about love and power. The love is breaking down barriers, and the power is creating change.”
Established in 2003, Neighborhood Connections attempts to empower Cleveland and East Cleveland citizens through grassroots programs while working with local institutions to create lasting positive change.
“We want to invest in human capitol,” O’Brien says. "This is neighborhood folks getting together to do good in their own neighborhoods.” He adds that the group tries to help with financial, technological, and community assets to build leadership capacity in local community members.
Neighborhood Connections boasts the largest small grants program in the nation, investing in resident-led projects ranging from $500 to $5,000 per grant, The organization has funded approximately 2,300 projects since 2003 totaling more than $7.5 million. Sometimes a grant is si.ply about brightening up a little corner of the world; others inspire folks to let off steam with old fashioned fun.
Approximately four years ago and with guidance from Trusted Space Partners’ Bill Traynor and Frankie Backburn, the group also launched Neighbor Up, which currently has more than 2,000 members. That effort encourages community members to exchange resources, support each other, and collaborate on transformative projects.
O’Brien says the group formed to change the environment of how people come together. It focuses on supporting individuals, providing timely information and working together to make change in the community. Residents get together to decide what they want to work on, including issues such as health and jobs. There is even an artists’ collaborative.
“Being involved in the public discourse can be very difficult and deflating,” notes O'Brien. “So what we’ve tried to do is change that and provide a space that is more hope-filled – and people actually get value out of it. Creating the space for people to come together to say, 'what’s the reality of what we want to create for ourselves?' instead of institutions saying 'this is what you need' – this is the plan. This is getting the people most affected together to say, 'this is what we want; this is what we need.'”
Organizers strive to help create an equal environment where no one dominates the meeting. There is no agenda as people sit in a circle, raise questions, and share information. Then they break off into smaller groups to discuss grassroots organizing and specifics.
During the initial meetings people were asking how to get jobs with large, local institutions. These discussions inspired the innovative Step Up to UH jobs pipeline project.
“It started as a conversation among people in this network,” O’Brien says of the effort, which identifies good candidates for jobs at University Hospital and then trains them for those positions.
Members also developed the Greater University Circle Community Health Initiative in hopes of lowering the infant mortality rate and abating the hazards of lead paint in Greater University Circle (Fresh Water will take a closer look at this initiative in early January).
During monthly Network Nights in the Greater University Circle and Buckeye neighborhoods (and in Glenville beginning in January), people make exchanges with one another, requesting and offering help and services from a ride to the doctor's office and tips on who’s hiring to assistance on painting projects, etc.
“We make sure there’s a level playing field in the room,” O’Brien says, “and people get value as soon as they walk [in]. It’s a place where people want to be.”
They also invite representatives from local institutions so community members can get to know them face to face, thus narrowing the social distance between people.

“In many ways these practices are an antidote to the rural/urban divide,” O’Brien explains. "They break down the walls between community and institutions to create something new together or get good information. There are people who are part of those institutions who can create real change. We bring people into rooms where these meetings normally wouldn’t happen.”
Members can also build leadership skills at Neighbor Up University, attending workshops on creating meaningful places in neighborhoods, training on community network building, and learning a variety of member-led skills on everything from marketing to running for political office.
O’Brien says they hope to build their network out, expanding west and even into suburbs.
“This approach can really make significant change,” he says. “We want to continue to crate an environment for people to come together while making bigger change. We want to make more spaces like this. We are bridging age, gender, race, orientation, social, economic differences – thousands of people from all walks of life – to make the world we want right here right now.”

University Circle to showcase transportation with new shuttle, walkability, public transit

With newcomers such as MOCA and the utterly transformed Uptown District, University Circle (UC) has exploded with new activity that has easily blended in amid funky Hessler Street, the towering puppets of Parade the Circle and the venerable cultural institutions lining Wade Oval.
If you build it, they will come. So goes the saying and so it is for UC, a development that University Circle Inc. (UCI) and its partners have noted and then some.
"I really think transportation is on a lot of people's minds lately. It's certainly on our minds here in University Circle and the surrounding area," says Laura Kleinman, UCI's vice president of services. "Such substantial growth means a greater volume of people in the area," she adds, noting that the influx increases pressure on the environment, the infrastructure and most importantly, the people.
To ease it all, UCI, along with some 20 area partners, has developed the expansive Moving Greater University Circle's Transportation and Mobility Plan. At more than 140 pages, the document is daunting, but it's implementation and intent are already evidenced in the UC area in the friendliest of ways, starting most notably with a familiar link that's just expanded and aims to make navigating the area easier than ever.
The free CircleLink shuttle has historically catered to the area's education and medical industries. A new yearlong pilot program, however, will expand coverage to the Little Italy neighborhood, complete with a new vehicle.
"We added a smaller bus so it could navigate Little Italy more easily," says Kleinman, noting that the tiny enclave isn't conducive to maneuvering large vehicles.

The new BlueLink, which launched today, will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The free shuttle will circulate every 20 or 30 minutes and will stop at the new Little Italy – University Circle RTA Station; points along Mayfield, Murray Hill and Cornell Roads; and the cultural attractions lining Wade Oval and Magnolia Drive. The addition increases the small but mighty CircleLink fleet from two to three shuttles.
The newly named GreenLink will follow a route similar to that of the former shuttle service, with stops along Adelbert, Juniper and Bellflower Roads, as well as East 115 Street.
Both routes will help promote the "park-once" concept, by which UC advocates encourage visitors to park in one spot and visit the Circle's amenities throughout the day without moving their car. It will also encourage visitors to enjoy the new CircleWalk program, with it's 40 inviting 'Story Poles' that now pepper the area and draw attention to points of interest such as Rockefeller Park and the Commodore Hotel.
Others who initially travel to the area via RTA's Healthline or the recently improved Cedar – University Rapid or the Little Italy stations may opt for two wheels and partake in the forthcoming bike share program. Initially announced last year, University Hospitals was tapped as title sponsor of the citywide UHBikes program last month. The program will be rolling out over the coming weeks. The University Circle area is slated for 10 stations that will house approximately 50 bikes to let.
"We're encouraging people to use public transportation get to the Circle and either walk or hop on CircleLink to take them anywhere else in Circle," says Kleinman. "We're working closely with RTA to promote that."
To that end, Joe Calabrese, RTA's CEO and general manager, will deliver the keynote at the 2016 Uptown Business Association Showcase in the Circle on Thursday, June 16 from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
With all this talk of how people can get around the Circle, Kleinman sees Calabrese as a perfect fit for the event.

"I think Joe is a super champion of public transit in the region and even around the country," she says. "I know he's excited about the investments that they have made recently in University Circle, particularly with the two Rapid stations. He's just a great supporter and believer in public transportation and the benefits it can have on infrastructure, on our communities, on our health and on the economics in the region."
Calabrese will talk about the Moving Greater University Circle Plan, its components and how RTA has been involved in it all. He'll also discuss RTA's Transit Benefits Fare Program, by which employers can save up to 7.65 percent on average in payroll tax and employees can save up to 40 percent on commuting costs.
"People need to be able to get to their jobs easily and cost effectively," says Kleinman, adding that she believes attendees – employees and employers alike – will appreciate hearing about the program.
The June 16 event will also include announcements of a number of awards:
The Best Nonprofit/Local Business Relationship Award honors a business relationship between a University Circle nonprofit and a neighborhood business. Last year's winners: DeeJay Doc FRESH Camp and Bon Appétit
The Best Start Up Business Award honors a neighborhood business that has been in existence less than three years. Last year's winner: Cleveland Yoga Uptown
The Best Multi-Generational or Family-Owned Business Award honors a neighborhood business that has been passed on from one generation to the next, or in which two or more family members are employed, share ownership, or are primary decision makers. Last year's winner: The Barking Spider Tavern
The Uptown Business Association (UBA) Champion Award honors the UBA member that champions the organization’s mission to promote and support businesses in the Uptown neighborhoods to increase profitability and enhance the quality of life for the community.  Last year's winners: Mark Balogh, The Coffee House at University Circle and Ben Williams Jr., Ben’s Auto Body Specialists
Also last year, the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Neighborhood Leadership Award, which honors the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and her legacy of service to the University Circle community, was given to Sara Mierke, Hawken School, and Sally and Bob Gries, The Gries Center.
"The [UBA] seeks to engage not only business owners from the Circle, but from the surrounding neighborhoods to help them network with one another and raise awareness of the local business community," says Kleinman, adding that this is the fourth year the Showcase event will include awards.
"We'll be celebrating local businesses," she says of the forthcoming event. "We'll also be connecting with a really important topic: public transportation."
Citizens Bank is the presenting sponsor for the 2016 Uptown Business Association Showcase in the Circle event, with additional promotional support from the Council of Small Enterprise (COSE). The George Gund Foundation and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency's (NOACA) Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative funded the Moving Greater University Circle Plan. University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University are funding the pilot BlueLink shuttle program.

This article was made possible by a partnership with University Circle Inc.


Cleveland Education Compact aims to improve relations between charter and district schools

While organizations such as the Transformation Alliance are working to make sure Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools ensures every child in Cleveland receives a quality education with access to a selection of schools, the Cleveland Education Compact is doing their part by helping the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and the city’s 65 charter schools work together to bring excellence throughout.

The Compact is a collaboration between CMSD, the Cleveland Foundation and Breakthrough Schools, which is a network of public charter schools. The group came together last year after the associated schools received a $100,000 planning grant from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2014.
The Compact’s goal with the planning grant is to unite all those partners via a common goal that includes cooperation between the CMSD and Cleveland’s publicly funded charter schools and improve the educational options in Cleveland.
“Essentially, the district and Breakthrough Schools were doing some collaboration already,” explains Lindsey Blackburn, project manager for the Compact. “We applied for the $100,000 grant to get things going.” Blackburn adds that the term “compact” refers to both the group and the document they wrote.
Now the planning is underway and a group of 40 people from a dozen schools and organizations met in February for a brainstorming session and to form subcommittees. The executive committee meets monthly to discuss the subcommittee topics, which include record sharing; professional development; special education; facilities; funding; and policy/advocacy.
The Compact’s executive committee, which consists of five direct representatives and five charter representatives, meets once a month to ensure the planning phase is carried out before the grant runs out later this year.

“The last two areas have a lot of overlaps so it may make more sense to combine them,” says Blackburn. “Each subcommittee has co-chairs: one representative from the district and one representative from the charters.”
The group will meet again on April 5 for additional planning and outlining. “This is an exciting time because this is actual real work,” Blackburn says, adding that they will look for the areas that are easiest to tackle first, then address the more complex issues.
"We will look at the ones we can win first, like sharing professional development resources – if a speaker comes in, opening it up to all compact members,” she says. “There will be topics that will prove to be more complex and may not be solved in this round of collaboration.”
While the Cleveland Education Compact is not affiliated with the Cleveland Plan, the two groups still share common missions. “The Compact is similar [to the Cleveland Plan] in the sense that it is all about finding areas where district and charter schools can work together.,” says Piet van Lier, executive director of the Transformation Alliance, the organization charged with making sure the Cleveland Plan is executed. “But it wasn’t written into the Cleveland Plan.”
However, van Lier does see the two groups complementing each other. “Since the Cleveland Plan envisions a portfolio district with good schools, both district and charter, and allows the district to share levy money with partner charter schools, the two really are different sides of the same coin.”
Blackburn says future fundraising options will be considered to keep the Compact going once the planning grant expires. 

Transformation Alliance is a Fresh Water sponsor.

NOIA celebrates 20 years of Italian heritage, community giving

Twenty years ago, a group of Italian-American business leaders – Umberto Fedeli, Dominic Visconsi, Sr, Nacy Panzica, John Quagliata, Joe and John Miceli, and Sonny Orlando -- wanted to find a way to preserve their Italian traditions while also helping the Cleveland community.

Their idea transformed into the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation (NOIA).
“It started in 1995 with a few businessmen and the organization evolved from there,” explains NOIA executive director Angela Spitalieri. “It started as a group of men getting together to raise money and give it away.”
Today the non-profit organization, based out of the Murray Hill School in Little Italy, has 212 members who gather to network, socialize and raise money for causes they believe in. In its 20 years the foundation has given more than $1 million to causes that fit its mission. This includes donations to four Italian church parishes -- St. Rocco, Holy Redeemer, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Holy Rosary.
Most recently, NOIA established a $200,000 scholarship for Padua High School in Parma to attract Italian American students to the school who wouldn't otherwise pursue a Catholic education.
The scholarship provides qualified students with $5,000 a year, renewable annually. Awardees must maintain a 2.5 GPA, be enrolled in the Italian Language Program, participate in Padua’s Italian Heritage Club, and be active in volunteer activities.
NOIA partners with the Western Reserve Historical Society on many of their speakers and lecture series and on an archive project. The group also hosts Italian classes.
The organization doesn’t look for attention or a pat on the back for its fund-raising efforts. “It’s who we are,” says Spitalieri. “It’s important because it’s something that leaves a legacy and it’s part of our heritage.”
In recent years, NOIA has been a bit more open about what they do, and the group’s leaders try to engage its members more in the community. “We’re a lot more out there and we just do more,” says Spitalieri. “We’ve never forgotten where we came from.”
In November NOIA officially celebrated its 20-year anniversary in Cleveland with a gala at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Each year since 1999 at the annual gala, NOIA inducts local Italian-Americans who excel in education/community service, medicine, sports, business, religion and government into its Hall of Fame. The 2015 inductee was legendary music producer and Cleveland native Tommy LiPuma.

new book illustrates history of lake view cemetery, 'a record of our time as it passes'

University Circle and Euclid Avenue continue to evolve into a world where modern amenities meet historic architecture. Barney Taxel's new book of photographs, “The Lake View Cemetery: Photographs from Cleveland’s Historic Landmark,” is a showcase of where the neighborhood has been and where it's going in Lake View Cemetery, the 285-acre park, museum and burial ground.

“Euclid Avenue is in a comeback – there are a lot of new things on that whole stretch,” explains Taxel, whose wife, Laura Taxel, who wrote the book's essays. “University Circle and Downtown was a place known as Millionaires Row, where the movers and shakers settled. This comeback with Uptown represents just that – a new chapter in the area that was once sought-after in terms of real estate.”
Taxel took 14 years to document some of the characteristics that make Lake View unique. “It was very challenging to create a photographic portfolio that did not follow conventional forms,” he says. “I wanted to do something as it is relative to a person’s experience walking or driving through.”
He points out that Lake View offers an important chronicle of Cleveland history. Its architecture offers a documentation of the city’s impressive business beginnings.
“There are many, many threads to Cleveland businesses,” Taxel says. “Sherwin-Williams, Western Union, the great shipping companies, and of course Standard Oil. You walk through the place and you see names like Halle and Higbee.”
The mausoleums showcase architecture details of the past, and great names such as John D. Rockefeller, Eliot Ness, Carl B. Stokes, President James A. Garfield and Cleveland Clinic co-founder George Washington Crile grace the grounds. Yet the sprawling 145-year-old cemetery, modeled after garden cemeteries of Victorian England and France, also has room left for today’s history makers.
“It is, and always has been, a record of our time as it passes,” says Taxel. “It is timeless.”
Laura Taxel's introduction and six essays weave the photographs with the history and culture of Lakeview. The book is for sale at Lakeview Cemetery’s business office at 12316 Euclid Avenue, Loganberry Books and Macs Backs-Books.
Laura and Barney have upcoming book signings at Loganberry on Saturday at 3pm; at Mac’s Backs on Saturday, December 13 at 1pm; and at The Wine Spot on Sunday, December 14 from 3pm to 5pm.

engage! cleveland launches weeklong series of yp-friendly events

Talent attraction/retention nonprofit Engage! Cleveland has officially kicked off a series of Cleveland-friendly social activities and professional development opportunities through its first annual Cleveland Young Professionals Week.

The weeklong succession of cost-free events aimed at the youthful and talented began Monday and will continue through Oct. 11, says Engage! Cleveland executive director Ashley Basile Oeken. Each day will feature a variety of around-the-clock happenings on both the East and West Side, including fitness classes at local studios, speaker-centric "lunch-and-learn" programs, and nightly networking get-togethers. That's 25 events over six days, if you're counting.

"You hear about other cities and how they've engaged young professionals," says Basile Oeken. "We wanted a signature event to put our name on."

Programming is generally aimed at people age 21 to 40, although the nonprofit is inclusive of anyone who considers themselves a YP. Events are filling up, notes Basile Oeken, so if you're interested in a spinning class at Harness Cycle or listening to a talk by PlayhouseSquare president Art Falco, it's best to act fast.

Basile Oeken views Engage! Cleveland's first-ever CLE YP Week as a chance to show off everything the city has to offer, whether to a lifelong resident or someone who moved here a month ago. Attracting and retaining young talent means linking it to influential leaders and local organizations, she believes.

"It's acclimating people to how much is going on in Cleveland," says Basile Oeken. "There's an opportunity to get everyone living in this community to support it collectively."

While programming will end with a closing party at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the nonprofit director expects the energy generated by a week's worth of events to resonate throughout the year.

"If you're involved, Cleveland can sell itself," Basile Oeken says. "People are more likely to stay when they're engaged."

who's hiring in cle: ganeden biotech, youth opportunities unlimited, opusone...

Welcome to the latest edition of Who’s Hiring in Cleveland?
There are plenty of good jobs to be found here in Cleveland. This is the latest installment in a new regular series of posts in which we feature companies that are hiring, what those employers are looking for, and how to apply.
Global Cleveland and NEOSA will host a virtual IT job fair during NEOSA Tech Week, April 11-18. New this year, job seekers and employers will receive a list of potential candidates and companies that match the job requirements. Top IT talent can sign up here. Employers looking for talent can register here.
Ganeden Biotech, a leader in probiotic research and product development, needs two business development account managers to identify and service new partners.
In addition to hiring youths for its summer employment program, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) has multiple positions open, from administrative team leaders to a database and file captain and a field supervisor. Read about all the open jobs here.
OpusOne Staffing is actively recruiting talented IT professionals, ranging from entry level to senior level. Interested candidates should send resumes to Melissa.
The Cleveland Foundation needs a program officer to review and research grant proposals and community issues, meet with prospective grantees and prepare evaluations and recommendations for funding. To apply, send resume and salary requirements to the hiring manager.

New Directions, a recovery center for teens and their families, needs an experienced planned giving officer to secure major gifts from donors through estate planning and other gifts. The qualified candidate must be a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Have hiring news you’d like to share? Email Karin at Fresh Water Cleveland and send us this information or career links!

bad girl ventures readies launch of fall business plan competition

Micro-lending organization Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) wants Cleveland to connect with the next generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners. That hopefully beautiful friendship will begin on Thursday, October 3, when BGV Cleveland hosts its kickoff event introducing the 10 finalists of its fall business plan competition.

The 10 women will present themselves at Battery Park Wine Bar, pitching their ideas to an audience before embarking on BGV's nine-week course to help tweak their fledgling enterprises. The final class will be in mid-November, with the winner of BGV's $25,000 low-interest loan announced during a "graduation ceremony" the following month.

Financing and mentorship are just two of the benefits for program participants, says Reka Barabas, director of BGV Cleveland.

"Networking is a huge motivating factor for them," she says. "These women are not just sitting in a stuffy classroom, but extending their professional network."

This autumn's class represents a wide range of industries and specialty areas. There's a children's party bus, granola bar company, match-making business, and more.

BGV Cleveland offers business education courses and financing twice per year to help women-owned startups launch, manage and market their businesses. In May, custom cake baker Sugar Plum Cake Company earned the business group's $25,000 loan. Two other ventures -- Journey Art Gallery  and The Agrarian Collective  -- each received $5,000 loans from a private giving circle. 

"We're exposing these businesses to as many resources as possible," says Barabas. "There's a huge value in that."

SOURCE: Reka Barabas
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

techpint event touches on lessons learned from business failures

"Failure" is a tough word, particularly for entrepreneurial types throwing so much of their lives into a venture that might go belly up within a few months. However, Paul McAvinchey, creator of TechPint, believes valuable lessons can be learned from disappointment.

Such is the theme of this fall's TechPint conference, a casual gathering for entrepreneurs and investors in Internet technology. Coordinator McAvinchey expects more than 250 of the region's most innovative tech pacesetters to attend the quarterly-held event taking place tonight (September 26) at Sterle’s Slovenian Country House. Speakers John Gadd of Hotcards.com, Kendall Wouters of Reach Ventures and Phil Brennan of Echogen Power Systems will touch on how businesses can bounce back from seemingly crushing setbacks.

"It's a fact that you must fail many times before you see success," says McAvinchey, who moved to Cleveland from County Tipperary, Ireland, in April 2012 to lead product innovation for MedCity Media. "If you're failing, that means you're trying. That's a good thing."

Even stories of tremendous achievement, like the billion-dollar acquisition of Instagram, began on a rocky road of risk and false starts, McAvinchey points out.

"Failure will work for you if you learn from it," he says.

The informal get-together is designed to connect the region's tech thinkers over a couple pints of beers, says McAvinchey. TechPint's moniker this month is "Techtoberfest," in appreciation of this suds-filled season of the year.

Autumn also is a time for scary stories, and attendees will hear a few frightening business-related tales at TechPint. "It's important to celebrate failure," McAvinchey says. "This is a way to bring positive attention to it."

SOURCE: Paul McAvinchey 
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

entrepreneur turns to botanicals for growing cocktail-elixir business

When Nora Egger returned to Shaker Heights after a decade in Europe, she was looking for her next career move. "I was completely lost," she recalls. Then she started to think about the flavor profiles of cocktails in Europe, compared to what she saw in the states.

"Everything's pomegranate or mango or berries," Egger says of American drinks. "So I said, 'Why don't I do something with flowers?'"

Egger started fooling around in her mother's kitchen and developed her Lounging Gourmet Elixir Collection. The elixirs feature floral essences that can be blended with alcohol to create a unique cocktail, or added to sparkling water for a light, low-calorie soda.

The line features four flavors: Damascan rose, English lavender, Andean fire orchid, and Antillean hibiscus. "They are a strong concentrate made with pure cane sugar," says Egger.

Egger began selling her elixirs out of her car last year, while still making them in her mom's kitchen. Then, in July, she began working with distributors, relocated to a bottling facility, and began to market her product on a wider level. She still mixes every batch by hand -- standing on a ladder to reach -- and individually labels and packages each bottle.

The elixirs are carried in local stores such as Heinen's, Zagara's and Minotti's, as well as through distributorships in California, Oregon, Washington, Las Vegas and New York City. They are also available through Egger's website. She regularly holds tastings around town to familiarize people with her products.

Egger uses all local distributors and operates out of her home office in Little Italy. Although it's still a small operation, she hopes to grow and hire some people.

"I'd love to expand," she says. "It's so exciting."

Source: Nora Egger
Writer: Karin Connelly

business is booming in little italy thanks to slew of new openings

Business is booming in Little Italy, and the past year has seen a slew of new shops open in the historic community. Known for its galleries, shopping and great Italian restaurants, Little Italy welcomes newcomers peddling everything from fabric to vintage apparel.

The new specialty shops and galleries fit right in, embracing the old world feel of the neighborhood. Heartstrings, an antiques, art and unusual gifts boutique, moved from the basement of the former Lycium School building to a larger store in a former church on Murray Hill. Known for having "all things quirky," the store features vintage apparel, art, sterling silver and handmade soaps and oils. "There's so much to look at," says Sue Marrone, president of the Little Italy Merchants Association. "It's pure eye candy."

Bolt and Spool, which sells fabrics, patterns and ribbons for children's clothing, opened in November in the old school on Murray Hill. Owner Nan Webb chose Little Italy because it reminded her of Europe, where many of her fabrics come from. "With the cobblestone streets in Little Italy it kind of feels like you're there," she says. "In the school, it feels like you're not alone. There's a sense of community there."

Serafino Gallery and Design on Mayfield Road features the work of local artists. The non-profit company holds regular exhibits by local artists in various media. The shows promote arts and the community. "They have incredible showings there," says Marrone.

These businesses are just a taste of what Little Italy has to offer. "There's always neat things to do down here," says Marrone. "It's always a great place to be and it's a tremendous source of pride."

Source: Sue Marrone
Writer: Karin Connelly

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