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OTR Line app crowdsources wait time info for Cincy diners

Scott Miller doesn’t like waiting in lines. Not for his driver’s license. Not at the doctor’s office. And not for a meal at one of his favorite restaurants in Cincinnati's popular Over the Rhine neighborhood.

So Miller and fellow software geek Scott Avera designed a new mobile app to leverage the power of crowd-sourcing and help diners get a real-time sense of the minutes they could spend waiting for tables in the city’s popular urban restaurant scene.

After calling OTR restaurants hourly for weeks to gather preliminary wait-time data, OTR Line launched last Friday to the public in both Apple and Android versions. It's a simple, streamlined app that offers information and a process for gathering in put in clear, easy-to-follow formats.

“The app calculates average wait times based upon history,” explains Miller, who grew up in Anderson Township and now lives in Blue Ash. “But we really want people to report. As people report wait times, the app gets better. The more input you get, the better predictability.”

Avera, a Springboro native who now lives in Hyde Park, brings his experience as former owner of Ascent Solutions to the new business venture. 

“We have been software entrepreneurs all of our lives,” says Miller, 52. 

The key to OTR Line’s success lies in users’ willingness to log wait times, he says. 

The app allows users to scroll through a list of eateries and compare wait times, and it also offers space for restaurants to place ads. “The restaurant will get to play the game as well,” he says.

Miller and Avera plan to approach restaurateurs with OTR Line window stickers later this week; the free app is available for download now.


Writer: Elissa Yancey

 

Cincinnati Digital Xchange explores latest strategies, techniques in digital marketing

Top digital marketing trends, techniques and strategies are ever-evolving. New tools, networks, devices and technologies make the rapidly changing space competitive and dynamic. You master one (or five) techniques, and then a new one comes along.

Keeping up with those tools and getting the best out of them is the foundation of a new group, Cincinnati Digital Xchange, which meets once a month to explore the ins and outs of the digital marketing space.

The Xchange was founded by a group of local digital marketing experts as an open place where people can learn and swap ideas. It began as a web analytics group but expanded to include other dimensions of digital marketing as well.

"We decided we wanted to bring in more people in the digital industry," says Xchange's co-founder Russ Shirley, a digital marketing consultant. "We'd focus on social, local, mobile—anything trending or coming up."

The group meets the last Tuesday of each month at Cintrifuse, the region's newest corporate-backed startup investment fund and incubator.

The group has had some impressive, on-trend speakers, including inaugural speaker J.B. Kropp, Brandery co-founder and Twitter V.P. of Strategic Partnerships (and Cincinnatian), who spoke about engagement and how brands are leveraging the platform.

Other speakers include marketing pros from Cincinnati powerhouses like dunnhumby, Possible, Empower MediaMarketing, Rockfish Interactive and Procter & Gamble.

The group has grown quickly—some months, meetings attract more than 100 people. The meetings are free, and Xchange receives major support from Cintrifuse, Empower MediaMarketing and CincyTech.

"The main goal is kind of self-serving," Shirley says. "I wanted to get information that I want to learn, find out things that are not usually accessible to anyone who is outside of an agency."

The next meeting is set for July 30. Details are available on the group's Meetup page.


Writer: Feoshia H. Davis

TL2 pairs teens with local businesses, teaches economics

Most high school students count down the days until summer vacation, but for those participating in the Economics Center’s summer program—Today’s Learners, Tomorrow’s Leaders—the countdown continues.  

TL2 students spent the first month of their summers back in the classroom as they took a microeconomics course and visited local businesses to earn both high school and college credit. 

Economics can be an abstract concept, says Daniel Barkley, University of Cincinnati adjunct professor and Economics on the Move founder. 

“When I was in undergrad, some of my professors would take us to buildings that were being worked on so you could see how they were being constructed, and I learned a lot that way, so I figured why not do it with economics?” he says.  

Rather than simply reading about economics in a textbook, Barkley says it’s important for his TL2 students to see the business side of things as opposed to the consumer side, which everyone is already familiar with. 

“A lot of companies will open their doors and show you—it doesn’t matter if it’s baseball or you’re making rubber seals—but it’s similar philosophies," he says. "And they’re at the age when it’ll sink in and do well."

Students had the opportunity to experience the inner workings of a variety of places, including Great American Ball Park, Meridian Bioscience, CVG Airport and Sur-Seal—all of which offer different services but operate under similar principles. 

“I realized that a lot of these businesses are alike in so many different ways," says Mozika Maloba, who attends Walnut Hills High School and was a participant in this year’s TL2. "They have so many different things that connect them. At first, I think I neglected to see that, but it’s funny how you can connect CVG to the Reds' stadium or Meridian BioScience, and I think that’s one of the main things I learned. Economics is such a broad field that can connect to every business.” 

And like most cooperative learning opportunities, students have the chance to not only expand their knowledge, but also their social networks. 

“Along with the whole business prospect of it, you are actually getting a group of friends you can stay in contact with for a while, and they all have the same goals and ideas in their heads,” Maloba says. “And after three weeks, there’s so many correlations between you and the 26 others in the same room as you, so it’s really cool how you can befriend people and then later on, after this year, you can talk to them once again.” 


Writer: Brittany York

Ohio Third Frontier targets tech-based economy with new programs

Ohio Third Frontier is enhancing its commitment to innovation, adding three new programs that identify methods to move technology products to the marketplace more quickly, resulting in more jobs and a stronger tech-based economy in Ohio.
 
“Each one of the new programs introduced by Ohio Third Frontier has a specific focus on advancing technologies to a place where they can be profitable in the market, creating companies and job opportunities in the process,” explains Katie Sabatino, Senior Media Strategist at the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Communications. “By designing results-driven programs, Ohio’s economy will benefit and improve our foothold as a leader in innovation and advanced technology industries, which are key to our long-term success."
 
Requests for proposals were released in May for the following:

The Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund offers Ohio tech companies loans to assist in developing products and services where they may otherwise have difficulty securing funding due to the risks associated with developing technologies. Loans range from $500,000 to $2.5 million.

The Technology Commercialization Center program invests in new technologies with the goal of creating companies and jobs while helping businesses attract capital. Centers will commercialize research from universities, medical centers or nonprofit institutions and advance the technology into the marketplace. The program offers up to $25 million to create a center with the expectation that after four years it will be self-sustaining.

The Technology Asset Grant supports shared infrastructure projects needed to develop new technologies. Program funding can go towards facilities and/or equipment when a federal procurement agency or at least two Ohio companies believe it is critical to commercialize technology. The grant program offers up to $5 million per project for up to three years.
 
These programs, the state agency believes, will better streamline the flow of new technology products to the market.
 
“When developing and commercializing new products, roadblocks can slow the process, creating a gap where generating funding can be difficult,” Sabatino explains, adding that the new programs will help bridge the gap between funding and commercialization with the goal of impacting the Ohio economy.
 
Never one to rest, Sabatino says Ohio Third Frontier is always looking for new opportunities. “We are focused on continually evaluating Ohio’s strengths and growth opportunities and creating programs that benefit the state’s tech-based economy and create jobs.”
 
 
Source: Katie Sabatino
Writer: Joe Baur

Fuel the Fire funds startups, betters Cincinnati communities

Young professionals are full of ideas, but turning ideas into fruitful startups takes funding, which is not always easy to come by—especially for recent college graduates.
 
“We have a lot of talent in Cincinnati, and we don’t want that talent to leave this city," says Tangela Edwards, communications chair for FUEL Cincinnati. "We want to keep it here."
 
FUEL Cincinnati, which is a division of Give Back Cincinnati, is a local micro-grant funder that provides philanthropic entrepreneurs with the ways and means to kick-start an idea that will impact the city for the better.
 
The nonprofit funds projects year-round, but its second annual fundraising event, Fuel the Fire, takes place tonight, June 27. That event enables five projects to not only have the opportunity to receive funding, but also to gain recognition and exposure so that other interested individuals become aware of their concepts.
 
“Major donors might not want to give initially—they want to see how well you do,” Edwards says. “And sometimes that takes a small amount of money to help a startup get off the ground. Our main focus is to give awareness to five groups—they’ll be able to fundraise outside of this—but this is one thing we’re able to do for them.” At the event, participants will present their ideas, and the public will vote on its favorite project.
 
This year’s entries span a wide range of concepts, and cover everything from indoor composting, bike sharing, leadership and training for adolescent males, edible landscaping, and even a series of pop-up biergartens in the intersections of five alleyways in Walnut Hills.
 
“Community building, education, environment, diversity—the idea is that if they can fit into any of those categories, we want to hear from them,” Edwards says. “If someone has a great idea that they feel will impact Cincinnati in a positive way but they don’t have the funding or need additional ideas and support, then that’s what we’re here for.” 
Interested part.

Purchase a ticket for tonight's event here.


By Brittany York


Innovative Cincy company rethinks the box, markets through 2,700 retailers

The old cardboard document storage box is getting a makeover, complete with ergonomic design, through the work of a Cincinnati startup.

Blegalbloss founder and president Will Scott has created a line of office products that make document storage, organization and use easier.

The company's signature product, BOXIE, is an ergonomic, lockable file box. The tough, rip-resistant boxes have a handle that is curved and slanted to make the box easy to pick up and carry. The box also has a locking feature, is made from 65 percent recycled materials, and is 100 percent recyclable.

Scott previously owned a record management company, and had worked in the financial service industry in sales and accounting.

"When I was in the record management industry, I had some time to think about how people use these storage items, and had a little black book of ideas," Scott says. "Looking at the boxes themselves, I realize they hadn't changed in nearly 100 years." That's when he went to work and began making the boxes better through design.

"I went about the task to redesign these sorts of things, and to make them stronger," he says. "It wasn't until I watched someone carrying the box that I realized that had been designed totally wrong."

Blegalbloss (pronounced Blee-guhl-bloss) was launched in early 2011, and the BOXIE was first delivered in January. In addition to boxes, the company sells Roo brand document organizers and DominoTwin office supply organizers. The products are sold through 2,700 retailers. The company's goal is to be in 4,000 retail stores by year's end and 10,000 by 2014, Scott says. Blegalbloss is working to expand the brand globally, and launch other products. Among Blegalbloss retailers are AmazoneBay and Office Depot.

Since most of the innovation is in the products' design, their costs are competitive with traditional storage boxes, Scott says. His company currently has about 45 patents pending and 10 already issued.

"We've built a better mousetrap," Scott says. "We're selling this at the same pricing (as competitors) in the marketplace, with better value and features."


By Feoshia H. Davis

Design "thinking" spurs change makers, helps nonprofits

Design isn't just about how something—like a mobile phone or a vacuum cleaner—looks, but how it works and how users receive and interact with it.

Creative design is most often applied in the consumer-marketing world in product development, including packaging and marketing. But a Cincinnati couple is taking design thinking into the nonprofit world through their own nonprofit, Design Impact.

The organization works with social change organizations to help address local and global social issues through creative design thinking. Design Impact has applied this concept to organizations both in Cincinnati and in rural India where the founders first began testing their ideas.

Design Impact was founded by husband-and-wife team Kate Hanisian and Ramsey Ford. Hanisian's background is in the nonprofit and education sectors, and Ford is a designer with extensive consumer product experience.

Design thinking can help nonprofits meet challenges by giving them a different way to solve, test and measure ideas, says Ford.

Key aspects of design thinking include:
  • Identifying opportunities to innovate 
  • Applying empathy and creativity to change problems into breakthroughs
  • Uncovering hidden insights and unarticulated needs from your customers
  • Quickly and inexpensively prototyping new ideas
  • Initiating design thinking in your business, organization or community
Design Impact is holding a two-day seminar for nonprofits that are interested in learning more about incorporating design thinking in their own problem solving challenges. Design Impact for Change Makers is Aug. 1 and 2, at the Kaleidoscope building in downtown Cincinnati.

Design Impact for Change Makers will be workshop-based and participants are being asked to bring a real challenge they'd like to solve or idea they'd like to explore. It could be anything from offering a new service to better engaging donors, Ford says.

"It's about idea generation, and staying in a creative state of mind so you don't always rely on the same old solutions," he says. "We'll be working through the entire creative process from discovery to creation and verification."

Event and registration details are available here, and the cost is $275 for both days.


By Feoshia H. Davis

Empower MediaMarketing creates Disruptive Media Fellowship

Independent media agency Empower MediaMarketing recently created a new Disruptive Media Fellowship at The Brandery, Cincinnati's consumer brand business accelerator.

The $10,000 fellowship will go to a Brandery startup whose idea is most disruptive to the media landscape. The fellowship recipient will be announced later this month, as The Brandery's incoming 2013 class begins, says Empower MediaMarketing's Director of Content Strategy Kevin Dugan.

"It seems that disruptions are taking place almost every day as consumer habits change," Dugan says. "We feel that for companies reacting to that is really more of an opportunity than anything else. If you are helping create the disruptions, it can become a competitive advantage."

Empower MediaMarketing is an independent media agency that plans, buys, creates and proves media impact for its clients. Dugan and CEO Jim Price are also Brandery mentors.

The Brandery launched in 2010 to offer funding, mentoring and partnerships for consumer marketing businesses. Brandery companies receive $20,000 in startup funding, and pitch their companies to potential investors at a Demo Day at the end of the four-month program.

The Brandery is a member of the Global Accelerator Network, and companies from across the country apply to the emerging accelerator. It is annually recognized as one of the elite startup accelerators in the country. More than 60 mentors work with the companies, with leading Cincinnati-based agencies offering participants free marketing and media guidance.

"As a company, we have been mentoring startups since 2010," Dugan says. "We really enjoy the process and wanted to increase our support (of The Brandery). This allows us to increase commitment and help startups."


By Feoshia H. Davis

Venture for America inspires two Cincy entrepreneurs to keep their talents in Ohio

When James Fayal and Ricky Ishida moved to Cincinnati last summer to focus on start-ups, they had given little thought to launching their own.

But less than a year later, the Milton Street housemates have embarked on one of eight national Venture for America initiatives (two from Cincinnati) that demonstrate just how much they have come to embody the entrepreneurial spirit. As members of the inaugural Venture for America class of fellows, the Zest Tea founders exemplify the essence of the national, startup-generating project designed to attract and retain top collegiate talent in “flyover” cities like Cincinnati.

Both moved to Ohio to work for startups that intrigued them. Fayal, a University of Maryland grad, chose to work with CincyTech, while Ishida of Cornell landed at ZipScene

Given the intense work schedules of startups, it’s no surprise that their idea for their own start-up grew out of a blend of personal experiences and frustration. Both preferred tea to coffee -- Ishida based on experience dating to his childhood in Japan and Fayal from his high school days. Still, neither could locate traditional teas with enough caffeinated punch to help them get through the extended days of the startup world.

Instead of complaining, they began a search for a coffee alternative. They found no tasty tea product on the market that provided coffee caffeine levels. That's when Fayal and Ishida knew they were on to something. They just didn’t know what.

“We started developing our own [tea] blends,” Fayal says. There was Cinnamon Apple Black Tea and Pomegranate Mojito Green Tea; Blue Lady Black Tea and Moroccan Mint Green Tea. “We started playing around with some tea extracts, with additional antioxidants, and caffeine,” he adds.

By blending tea extracts with high quality teas, they focused on good (read: not bitter) taste while boosting caffeine levels. 

What began as a beverage born of personal interest became a business plan very quickly over the last month thanks to another VFA innovation. The non-profit launched a national awareness campaign through RocketHub aimed at nurturing their young Fellows’ community involvement and startup aspirations. Members of the first class of VFA fellows were encouraged to enter a startup competition of their own, with cash prizes awarded to the top three already crowd-funded ideas. 

They created a RocketHub site for “Zest Tea - Bold Teas With An Energizing Kick,” and started raising money. To sweeten the pot, they turned the very funding process into a bit of a game, wherein folks who donate get to help decide which teas will make it to market first. 

"We figured we’d let the funders make the final decision on the first four," says Fayal, who enjoys all eight of the blends on the ballot, but admits to a particular fondness for Pomegranate Mojito and Cinnamon Apple blends as well as the more traditional Earl Grey.


Writer: Elissa Yancey
 

Cincy students learn biz basics in Market Madness program

For the past seven years, Cincinnati area elementary students have been learning about personal finance and the ways a market functions. 

“A lot of adults don’t understand how a market works, and these kids can tell you exactly how a market works,” says Julia Heath, director of the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati. “A lot of people think the government controls prices or the sellers control prices and nobody else controls it, but that’s not true—it’s a market that determines the prices—and these kids know that.”

The students know the principles of a market because each year, they get to participate in the Student Enterprise Program’s Market Madness, where they’re given the opportunity to create and sell products. 

This year’s theme was based on recyclable materials and re-use, so students created things like bookmarks, bracelets, stress balls, notebooks and magnets.

“Some have their products laid out and are walking around with sandwich boards marketing their products, while others are buyers," Heath says. "Then halfway through the round, an air horn sounds, and the sellers then have an opportunity to change their price. So they see a market at work, and they know that if they’re selling things like crazy off their table, then they need to raise their price. If nobody’s coming by, they need to lower their price or increase their marketing.” 

Students also have the opportunity to take a college tour at UC, which Heath says is important because it allows them to envision themselves on a college campus and see if it’s the right fit for their own futures.

Market Madness is an annual event, but throughout the year, StEP’s director, Erin Harris, is busy with the program’s student-run businesses within their own classrooms. 

“They can earn money through their business by good behavior, good attendance and good grades,” Heath says. “And then four times a year, we go to the school with a truck that’s got a bunch of stuff in it, and students then make a decision about whether they want to spend their money, save their money or donate their money.” 

For Heath, it’s wonderful that students are learning economics principles, but the most gratifying aspect of StEP, she says, is students’ willingness to donate rather than save their money for a big purchase like an mp3 player or digital camera at the end of the year.

“Our most economically challenged schools are often our highest donators,” Heath says. “The class suggests the organization that will get their donations, and often it’s something they’ve had direct contact with—like they’ll choose the Alzheimer’s Association because one or two of the kids has had a grandparent that’s been stricken, or they choose Children’s Hospital because they had a classmate who spent a lot of time there, or they’ll choose the March of Dimes because their sibling has been affected. It’s really quite remarkable.”


By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies.

LOC Enterprises to launch universal loyalty card

Today, it seems that every retailer has a loyalty card leading to wallets stuffed with plastic and the potential for confusion. Cincinnati startup LOC Enterprises hopes to replace all those cards with the launch of its LOC Card.
 
The LOC Card is the first truly universal loyalty card that will not only allow consumers to stop carrying around handfuls of cards, but it will also allow them to manage all of their loyalty programs on one website.
 
While holiday shopping for his now 12-year-old son in 2011, LOC’s CEO and founder Jack Kennamer realized the problems of loyalty cards.
 
“I was standing in line at a sporting goods store, and I heard the cashier ask customer after customer if they had the store’s loyalty card,” Kennamer says. “Most people didn’t want one, but one lady decided to sign up for it, and I could see the guy behind her huffing and puffing while she filled out the registration form. And when the guy in front of me was asked if he had the store’s card, he held up his keychain and said ‘No room for you.’ I figured there had to be a better way.”
 
After that experience, Kennamer spent hours researching loyalty cards and programs, and found that there wasn’t a “universal” loyalty card.
 
“Consumers love to feel special and get free stuff and discounts, but it’s getting to the point where they have to work so hard to participate in loyalty programs,” he says.
 
Kennamer’s company developed a 100-percent consumer-centric card that allows consumers to tailor how they want to engage with each retailer. For example, a consumer may want to interact with Kroger one way and Best Buy another, so they can pick and choose which retailers with which to share their email address.
 
When a consumer signs up for the LOC Card, they’ll set up an account online, and anytime they go to a retailer that accepts the card, they swipe it once and they’re enrolled in that loyalty program. LOC’s website manages all of the loyalty programs for the consumer, so there’s only one email address and password instead of 100.
 
LOC is working with the companies that handle the analytic side of loyalty programs to better service consumers. The company is also building relationships with individual merchants and getting great feedback about the LOC Card.
 
The LOC Card isn’t just tailored to large businesses, though. “The problem small businesses have is they don’t stand a chance because they’re so far down the totem pole when it comes to loyalty,” says Kennamer. “With the LOC Card, you swipe your card at the retailer once and you’re signed up for their loyalty program. After that, it’s up to the consumer to come back, and the retailer can reach out and give the consumer personalized offers to start repeat behaviors.”
 
The LOC Card isn’t available to consumers yet, but you can pre-register on LOC’s website.
 

Writer: Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber hosts design competition

In partnership with tech entrepreneur Tarek Kamil, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s
C-Change program is requesting proposals from designers from across the region to help craft an unforgettable brand experience for users of the newly launched website, Cerkl.

“This is an ideal opportunity to participate in a high-profile project for one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati region,” says Kamil, Cerkl’s creator. 

Launched in February, the website expedites serendipitous connections between talented individuals and local organizations that are working to improve Greater Cincinnati and the surrounding area. Its online platform serves as a catalyst for offline community engagement by empowering organizations and individuals to cut through the "noise" from existing networks to easily find organizations and opportunities to give back using time and talent.

Intuitive tools and search functions allow organizations to find the right people with specific skills - and help individuals leverage their unique talents and engage meaningfully with organizations they care about. Best of all, the site’s tools and platform are completely free. Cerkl is a gift to Cincinnati from Kamil, who while serving in his own community of Madeira saw the need for an online intervention to help non-profits make meaningful connections with their supporters.

But still in its infancy, the website is ready for its brand to be polished.

In step with Cerkl’s mission, Kamil and C-Change are looking to tap engaged design professionals who want to share their talents with their community in a meaningful way. 

“No other city has a higher caliber or concentration of branding and design talent than ours,” Kamil says. “We want to leverage those assets to bring Cerkl to its full potential. When we’re successful, Cincinnati will be home to the go-to tool created to empower non-profits, inspire individuals and improve communities.”

Designers participating in the request for proposals are asked to develop a refreshed visual look for the nonprofit, specifically a new brandmark and homepage redesign. Responses are due by June 21, and finalists will be notified in the beginning of July. 

The chosen designer or team will have the opportunity to establish a working relationship with one of the region’s most successful startup entrepreneurs. The involved parties will actively promote the contracting designer or firm through the website, social media, at events, marketing campaigns, etc. 

The winner of the competition will receive special recognition from C-Change and Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce, as well as a year’s subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud service or a $600 DCI (Downtown Cincinnati Inc.) Gift Card.

The digital version of the RFP and brand guidelines can be found here. To receive a copy of request for proposal, email your submissions or for questions, email virtual.submission@gmail.com by June 21.


Writer: Jenny Kessler

Cincy's Chill Shaved Ice expands

Alia Ali’s business venture, Chill Shaved Ice Bar, began in June 2011 at Findlay Market. Her shaved ice stands out among the rest because the syrups are all natural.
 
“I’ve always been in business,” says Ali. “I flipped cars in undergrad and imported jewelry after I graduated. I’m interested in health and wellness, and decided to marry business and healthy with Chill.”
 
In order to expand her business, Ali looked at local organizations that offer business support to entrepreneurs. She was one of 10 finalists in Bad Girl Ventures last fall. And in November, she participated in business classes at Xavier, and then applied to Xavier X-Lab, which pairs businesses with MBA students. That session just wrapped up, but Ali plans to participate in the summer session as well. Last month, Chill expanded its location options with a Smart car that scoots to area venues such as Kenwood Towne Center and Krohn Conservatory.

“I hope Chill continues to show people that natural and delicious can be in the same sentence,” says Ali.
 

By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

Blue Ash's BCM Ink turns waste product into award-winning packaging ink

Two companies on opposite sides of the Ohio River collaborated to create an award-winning ink product that's made from recycled materials.

BCM Inks of Blue Ash and Close the Loop of Hebron, Kentucky, created a process that turns leftover ink from consumer printer cartridges into an ink that can be printed on cardboard packaging—in industry terms, corrugated printing. The ink is called Post Consumer Recycled Black, and was introduced to the market last fall.

The new product won a gold award at the 25th DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation in the Innovation and Sustainability category. Other gold-winning brands in the same category were Campbell’s Soup Company, Heinz, Pepperidge Farm, Unilever and Gillette. The prestigious international award recognizes industry innovation and collaboration.

BCM Inks is a 25-year-old company that provides inks, services and products to the corrugated printing industry. Close the Loop USA recycles toner and ink jet cartridges. The Hebron facility opened in 2007.

"When people bring their ink cartridges to be recycled, up to 13 percent of the ink is still in the cartridge," says BCM Inks' Vice President Rob Callif. "Close the Loop was recycling the cartridge but extracting and collecting the ink. They didn't know what to do with it. So we took the leftover ink and developed a way to turn it into a water-based black ink that can be used in corrugated printing."

PCR Black saves over 200,000 ink jet cartridges from the landfill for every 450-pound drum of ink made, Callif says.

The entry was reviewed, judged and selected by a 10-member panel of independent packaging industry experts. The award was announced May 16 at the DuPont Awards Banquet in Wilmington, Delaware.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Greener Portions Aquaponics now open for business in Cincy

Greener Portions Aquaponics, Cincinnati’s newest source of locally grown produce using aquaponics, is now open for business in Covedale.

Aquaponics is a growing method that utilizes, in Greener Portions’ case, channel catfish to produce nutrient-rich byproducts that are circulated through the plant’s root systems to be filtered out and pumped back into the fishtank. The circular cycle has been used longer than any of us have been around.


Started by Mary Ann Brinkmeyer and her fiancé Casey Miller,  Greener Portions not only has the capability to provide fresh, locally grown produce on a regular basis, but will occasionally have fish on the menu once they need to change the ranks, so to speak.

Produce will be available for purchase on both individual and wholesale scales.


At this time, Greener Portions has a 2,000-square-foot growing operation, where they are currently growing heirloom tomatoes, coastal star romaine lettuce, bell peppers, wheat grass, cilantro, Genovese basil, parsley and more. Future plans are to harvest strawberries, cucumbers, kale and heirloom orange tomatoes.

The business started as a hobby for the couple, but they quickly realized it  had potential far beyond feeding themselves. With a grand opening  now under their  belts, Greener Portions is confident business will grow as steadily as their produce.

Find out more about Greener Portions Aquaponics here.
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