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Happy birthday to us!

Young Entrepreneurs. Photos Ben French
Young Entrepreneurs. Photos Ben French

When hiVelocity launched on Sept. 24, 2009, our goal was to be a different kind of publication -- one that would tell the story of "what's next" in Ohio in a light and lively way. One that would show why Ohio is a great place to live and work and start a business. One that would showcase the innovative minds, cutting-edge ideas and creative partnerships that are moving Ohio forward.

With this issue, hiVelocity has now published 52 feature stories, 26 Q&As and 260 Innovation & Job News stories -- all of them focused on the people, organizations and partnerships that are powering Ohio's new economy. We've recorded more than 175,000 page views from around the world. Some 63,000 subscribers now receive hiVelocity in their in-box every two weeks.

As with anything new, we had our own ideas about what kind of publication we should be. But the question always remained: Would readers like us? Would they really like us? If so, what kinds of stories would attract them?

For Paul Cohn, vice president and regional director of the Ohio Capital Fund, hiVelocity fills an important niche.

"Before hiVelocity, the exciting developments in Ohio's early stage community had largely gone unreported," Cohn says. "Mainstream media in Ohio were typically reporting on big companies and were focused on Ohio's (and the nation's) financial woes. Lost in the mix was the vibrant and growing mix of young technology companies that are bubbling up at an ever increasing pace throughout Ohio due to programs like the Third Frontier and the Ohio Capital Fund."

Others say they like the variety of our content.

"hiVelocity gives us a glance at the varied and diverse nature of the industry, business and job creating efforts taking place throughout the state," says Lou Ferraro, an economic development consultant for the Dayton region. "You've done a great job this year, and we look forward to your continued success."

We didn't hear from our other 62,998 readers by deadline time, so we took a look at some numbers ourselves. What tales of business daring-do resonated with them? Apparently stories about entrepreneurial acumen. Stories about young people getting traction. Stories about innovation and job growth. 

Don't take our word for it; see for yourself. Following are the five best-read stories of the past year.

No. 1: Ohio's young entrepreneurs prove age no barrier

Published on Jan. 28, this feature story by Douglas Trattner has been viewed more than 2,000 times. The piece looks at six young business owners, all but one of them still in their 20s. It's a classic account of entrepreneurial spirit and a testament to the fact that the opportunities in Ohio are vast -- and so is our brainpower. An excerpt:

When he was just nine years old, Paul Milligan was leading computer classes for senior citizens at his local community center. He estimates that within a couple years he taught basic computer skills to more than 300 people. At the ripe-old age of 16, while still attending high school in Powell, Milligan launched his current video production company. Now called Best Light Video, the Columbus-based business specializes in HD filming and post production.

No. 2: Serial entrepreneur's roller coaster life on way back up with new microwave design

Douglas Trattner also wrote the second best-read story: a feature on Cleveland entrepreneur Phil Davis. Published on Dec. 3, this tale of struggle, perseverance and never-say-die attitude garnered nearly 1,400 page views. Here's a snippet:

Davis's big "ah-ha" moment struck him, like they so often do, while he was in the bathroom. Preparing to shave, he wanted a hot towel for his face. Rather than have to run to the kitchen, he thought how nice it would be to have a microwave in the lavatory. Soon other uses began popping up, from hot oil treatments for hair to warming massage oils for the body. "And then I thought, if it makes sense for the bathroom, why not the office? Where else might a small microwave be useful? It was then that I knew I had a great idea."

No. 3: X-spine's rapid growth mirrors demand for new spine treatment technology

This June 3 article about Miamisburg-based X-spine triggered more page views than any other Innovation & Job News story. It's a good example of the kind of company we want to know about -- and write about. It's a company with a new idea, a practical application for real people and traction in the marketplace. It's also a prime example of why Ohio's entrepreneurial ecosystem has gained attention from other states trying to jumpstart their high-tech economies.

. . .  X-spine is growing 20 percent to 30 percent in both revenues and employment, with nearly 30 employees to date. Along the way, it has benefited from Ohio Third Frontier programs like the Entrepreneurial Signature Program, which provided a $300,000 commercialization investment two and a half years ago, and a current University of Cincinnati-led project funded by a $3-million Third Frontier grant for development of a laser metal processing technology for use in transplants.

No. 4: Carpe Ventum (Seize the Wind)

Trattner also wrote this feature, which examines where Ohio stands in development of wind energy. While the article duly acknowledges the early stage of Ohio's wind industry, it highlights recent developments that could bring you closer to the day when wind helps power your washer and dryer.

Thanks to a combination of factors not the least of which is recently enacted legislation Ohio finally has reached the wind-power tipping point. Even the faintest breeze promises to send Ohio tumbling to the top of the renewable energy heap. Three separate land-based projects in Northwest Ohio, all approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board, are on track to deliver 500 megawatts of clean electricity, enough to power 150,000 homes. But wait, there's more! Four additional projects currently pending approval can raise that total to 1,250 megawatts fueling 375,000 homes.

No. 5: Built on glass, northwest Ohio's Solar industry creates 5,000 new jobs

Colin McEwen's Oct. 8 account of Ohio's solar industry ties together the state's long-held capabilities in the glass industry with new opportunities in solar. The article says keys to the emergence of solar in northwest Ohio include deep expertise within the University of Toledo and entrepreneurs who used the region's assets to form new, home-grown companies. McEwen writes:

More than 5,000 new jobs have materialized in the Greater Toledo area, thanks to an innovative handful of upstart solar energy companies, in the form of retailers, suppliers, researchers and installers. And the clincher? Most of them are still accepting applications.

While those are the five most-read stories over the last year, other top stories should be noted. Feoshia Henderson's Oct. 8 feature on Blackbook -- a company that connects new Cincinnati-transplants with resources that make them feel at home, Val Prevish's June 3 piece on the Ohio film industry and her March 25 look at the modern face of Appalachian Ohio, McEwen's March 11 profile on entrepreneur Mike Hooven, and Dave Malaska's Jan. 14 feature on Ohio's design expertise all made the hiVelocity top-ten list.

So, if you missed them the first time around, you've got the links right here to read them now. In the meantime, we hope you'll find this week's issue interesting and engaging. Let year two begin!

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