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Cincy high school students earn college credit with video distance learning

Students at 10 Cincinnati area high schools are earning college credit through a new dual enrollment program at the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS).

It's the first step in a wider plan that will allow incoming UC engineering majors to complete their freshmen year of college before high school graduation.

The dual credit program grew out of a longer collaboration between CEAS and area schools that started in 2007. That's when CEAS began offering an introduction to engineering course to high school seniors. The course is offered through an educational video platform called Mediasite, which is designed specifically for educational use.

That collaboration started with four schools—Harrison, Mother of Mercy, Mt. Notre Dame and Princeton high schools—and now more than 13 participate (however, not all offer the dual credit option). The 2012-2013 school year was the first that students could take courses for credit at UC, says College of Engineering Academic Director Eugene Rutz.

Not all students take the class for dual credit, but out of the 500 who did, about 140 of them earned credit, Rutz says.

UC faculty and the high school teachers work together to deliver the course. UC provides lessons via videos, which students can watch from home. In the classroom, high school teachers assign projects that require students to find solutions to questions by creating an engineering-based solution that builds on what they learn in the videos.

"They build a prototype for the solution, test it, report it and defend," says Rutz. "There's a verbal presentation of it as well."

During the school year, students complete several projects—some could take a week, some could take a month. The focus is on applied learning.

"This is a course that helps students see and appreciate why they learn math and science," Rutz says. "They are also learning critical thinking, and that there are multiple ways to solve problems."

CEAS plans to add more high schools to the program next year, and add an additional engineering course, says Rutz.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Five Cincinnati Uptown organizations receive awards for community commitment

Earlier this month, members of Cincinnati's Uptown community gathered for the Uptown Business Celebration, presented by Uptown Consortium and Uptown Rentals/North American Properties. Five Uptown organizations walked away with awards for business excellence and commitment to the community.
In order to be eligible for an award, businesses demonstrated strong commitment to the Uptown community, success in meeting the organization’s mission and sustainable businesses practices. They also encouraged others to follow their lead. Awards were given in five categories: Small Nonprofit of the Year (25 of fewer employees), Large Nonprofit of the Year (more than 25 employees), Community Champion, Small Business of the Year (50 or fewer employees) and Large Business of the Year (50 or more employees).
The Small Nonprofit award went to the Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation and Large Nonprofit to Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center. Avondale resident and avid volunteer Patricia Milton won the Community Champion award; the Small Business award went to UC's DuBois Bookstore; and the Large Business award to Uptown Rental Properties.
Keynote speaker Benjamin Carson, Sr., M.D., who overcame poverty and a difficult childhood, is currently a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has directed the pediatric neurosurgery program at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for more than 25 years. Carson's many awards include 60 honorary doctorate degrees and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor.
Carson encouraged those at the awards ceremony to “elevate themselves” to make things better. He also shared his philosophy of success, which is “THINK BIG—talent, honesty, insight, nice, knowledge, book, in-depth learning and God.”
Uptown neighborhoods are Avondale, Clifton, Corryville, Clifton Heights, Fairview, University Heights and Mt. Auburn.
By Caitlin Koenig
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AAF Cincinnati and dunnhumby partner to start Cincinnati Digital Dialogue

American Advertising Federation Cincinnati is partnering with dunnhumbyUSA to set the stage for the city's first consumer-focused digital marketing conference.

D2, or Cincinnati Digital Dialogue, will be held Sept. 11 and 12 at the Horseshoe Casino downtown. The conference will focus on putting consumers at the center of digital marketing and business planning.

"If the customer is not at the center of your marketing, then what is?" says dunnhumbyUSA Executive Vice President of Communications and Media Matt Nitzberg. "I think people can get caught up in technology and technique because of the interesting things that can be done. But the techniques that will work are the ones that will connect with customers."

Digital marketing through websites, social media and video is more accessible and available than ever. And businesses large and small are using digital media to promote their brands with varying levels of success. The conference will help businesses and agencies focus those efforts to their particular customers.

"This is for professionals who want to put the consumer at the center of their digital marketing strategy," Nitzberg says. "It's for everyone, from the big retailer to the small ad agency."

The conference is a good fit for the Queen City, which has the highest per-capita concentration of branding professionals in the world. It's home to P&G, to the largest consumer goods manufacturer; Kroger, the country's largest supermarket retailer; and Macy's, the country's largest department store chain.

Organizers will spend the summer ironing out conference details, including speakers, session topics and registration information. To stay updated on the latest news, or for more information on speaker and sponsor packages, go to www.d2cincinnati.com or follow D2 Cincinnati on Twitter @d2Cincinnati #d2Cincy.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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'Big Idea Challenge' in Cincy offers rewards for innovative solutions

Part crowd-sourcing, part-buzz-generating and all focused on civic progress and innovation, the Greater Cincinnati's Foundation's freshly launched "The Big Idea Challenge" guarantees funding for big ideas with community support and the potential for high impact.

Envisioned as a way to engage the broader community in problem-solving and program development, the Challenge offers a public platform for anyone with an idea that could make the city a more vibrant and healthy place. Online submissions answering the question, "What's your Big Idea for a more prosperous Greater Cincinnati?" will be accepted from June 3 through July 29. In August, the field will be narrowed to 21 finalists; in September, public voting will determine the winners in each of seven categories.

"This is a groundbreaking way for one of the largest funders in our region to connect with the entire community," says Elizabeth Edwards, CEO of Metro Innovation and founder of Cincinnati Innovates. Her web platform, CrowdSpark, will host the Challenge. She's also part of the Big Idea Brain Trust, local thought-leaders who helped shape and refine the project with Greater Cincinnati Foundation leaders.

GCF is looking for ideas that will impact Cincinnati in one or more of seven categories:
• Strong Communities
• Cultural Vibrancy
• Job Creation
• Environmental Stewardship
• Educational Success
• Health & Wellness
• Economic Opportunity

The application process is streamlined — applicants, aged 18 and up, need only submit their contact information, a title, a 140-character description (great for Twitter) and a 2,000-character detailed description. Applicants whose ideas are chosen as winners will receive cash prizes; then, GCF will award $5,000 grants to area non-profits with the capacity to implement the winning "Big Ideas." One overall "Big Idea" will add a $50,000 grant to a complementary non-profit's coffers to "kickstart" the implementation of the idea.

By Elissa Yancey
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3DLT launches online 3D printing template market, gains national attention

3D printing is fast becoming an accessible, affordable way to create products, pieces and prototypes. Machine parts, toys and even jewelry can be printed quickly and with precision using 3D printing.

A new Cincinnati company is leading in the industry—3DLT—an online marketplace where users can purchase and download 3D printer templates. Using home printers or 3DLT's printer network, users can print pre-designed products in a variety of materials—from plastic to metal and even leather.

"We work with industrial designers across the world," says 3DLT's founder, Pablo Arellano, Jr. "They love to design, and we have them build these templates."

Arellano launched 3DLT at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in early May. The Cincinnati native is working with a team of co-founders to get the company off the ground. Arellano has founded several other startups, and is a former Procter & Gamble brand manager.

Arellano described the company as the iStockphoto of 3D printing.

"I'm a big fan of iStockphoto," he says. "I thought the next thing you can potentially download is 3D templates, and I wanted to be in that space. I've been working on this full-time for the past four months."

3DLT templates include bracelets, rings, mesh lampshades, eyeglass frames, shoes and iPhone 4S protectors.

The self-funded company is beginning to seek investors. 3DLT already has gotten national attention, and has been featured in TechCrunch, Wired, The Verge, Fast Company, Venture Beat and Popular Science. It's also a winner of the 2012 X-LAB competition, and has moved into the new Cintrifuse incubator.

Arellano believes most of the companies initial users will be commercial, but as 3D printer prices drop, more consumers will begin to print their own products.

"The prices are dropping very quickly," he says. "It's already happening."

By Feoshia H. Davis
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UC researchers develop smarter, solar-powered water filter

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed tiny, solar-powered water filters that target and remove carcinogens and antibiotics from lakes and streams.

These protein-based filters are smaller in diameter than a human hair, and work differently than current surface water filters that are made of activated carbon. Those carbon filters work much like the ones in home water filtration systems.

"In Cincinnati, we have one of the largest activated carbon treatment facilities in the United States," says David Wendall, a faculty researcher and environmental engineering professor at UC. "But what the current filters do is bind a lot of different [non-dangerous] compounds; it will will coat the filter very quickly."

UC's research was published in the "Nano Letters" journal. It showed the new filters absorbed 64 percent surface water antibiotics, compared to 40 percent absorbed by current filtering technology.

The research is important because there is growing scientific evidence of harmful effects of the hormones and antibiotics that work their way into our lakes and streams.

"We're starting to understand that birth control is feminizing fish, and antibiotics promote resistance in certain organisms," says Wendall. "It's what is contributing to superbugs that resist to antibiotic treatment. We're learning more about what happens when we dump antibiotics into the environment."

Generally, the contaminates arrive in waterways from runoff through farms or when we flush or trash our medicines.

"The main sources are from farms," Wendall says. "They put antibiotics in animal feed so they will grow fast and stay healthy. But some of their waste ends up in the rivers as runoff, where [the antibiotics] don't break down, and it ends up contaminating our water."

The filter at UC was developed in 2010. Testing has proven successful in specifically targeting antibiotics and other harmful materials.

Wendall describes the filters as "selective garbage disposals." Filtering ability is fueled by sunlight, and the filters actually preserve antibiotics in a way that famers can reuse if filters are recovered.

The university's research is continuing to be tested and refined, Wendall says. But current work could be used practically in three to five years.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Arcade Legacy in Cincinnati is a destination for gamers

Arcade Legacy is a mecca for gamers, with more than 68 arcade machines ready to be played and no quarters needed. Gamers can pay at hourly or monthly rates. Arcade Legacy also buys, sells and trades pretty much anything that has to do with gaming and movies.   

Old-school and high-tech at the same time, Arcade Legacy is a veritable museum of video game history. Classics like the Missile Command arcade cabinet and the Jurassic Park pinball table sit in the same room as Guitar Hero. There’s also the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles side-scrolling brawler game, which could be found in nearly every respectable pizza place 25 years ago.

There are also more than 1,000 console games that guests can play on TVs or on a giant wall. Visitors can essentially visit  the coolest nerd on the block—in this instance, Jesse Baker. Baker, the store’s founder, grants them unlimited access to his massive gaming treasure room for a nominal fee.

Located in the sparsely populated Cincinnati Mall, Arcade Legacy is a beacon for dedicated gamers and shoppers. High demand for birthday parties and social events has led Baker to consider expanding his business to a larger location in the mall, which is undergong a major overhaul.

In celebration of its first anniversary, Arcade Legacy launched a mission to offer every single Nintendo Entertainment System game that’s been made—something like 760 titles—in alphabetical order. Baker has just hit the letter “B.” Since January, gamers have met at Arcade Legacy on Wednesdays for “Beat it or Die Trying.” Anyone can sign up to play their favorite games in the NES’ massive library and show off in front of a crowd.

By Sean Peters

Life Blinx helps users turn Facebook pictures into actual photo albums

Made for people who don’t want to store all of their recorded memories digitally, Life Blinx offers a tangible way to preserve photos—by creating real-life photo albums right from your Facebook account.
Created by Darcy Crociata, who also works as a marketing and networking consultant, Life Blinx was propelled by The Brandery and CincyTech

“So many people are living their life on Facebook with nothing outside [of the site] to show for it,” Crociata says. “This is digital scrapbooking meets the real world.”
To create an album with Life Blinx, you simply register through your Facebook account and select which photos will go into your book. It’s a very quick process that Crociata says is best fitted for busy people -- not those looking to painstakingly plan out every single detail of the book.
The books are created by Print Management in Fairfax. Crociata describes the partnership as a blessing to the small business, because they have a professionallly equipped staff and facilities at their disposal. The two companies connected through the Brandery as well. 
The service is not without its hiccups, of course. 
“Every time Facebook changes, we have to adapt,” Crociata says. Users of the massive social network will know Facebook’s platform seems to change as frequently as the weather forecast. Life Blinx struggles to maintain composure amid Facebook’s many bugs. So far, they’ve been successful.
A growing company, Life Blinx is on the lookout for new staff. Interested applicants should have a technology background and experience maintaining company websites. 

By Sean Peters

Mason Tech Center opens its doors to innovative startups in SW Ohio

The City of Mason is part of a private-public partnership to house and grow tech-based startups in the Cincinnati suburb. In late May, the city will invite businesses and local media to an open house of the Mason Tech Center, a renovated office building just off the Mason-Montgomery Road corridor.

Top Gun Sales Performance, a global sales support organization that provides consulting, training and personnel for Fortune 500 clients, began the $4 million renovation at 5155 Financial Way last February. The growing company, expected to create 500 new jobs in the next five years, occupies the first floor of the tech center.

Through incentives offered by the City of Mason and Mason Port Authority, Top Gun renovated additional space to create the Mason Tech Center for startups in digital IT, biohealth IT and technology sectors.

One company, ConnXus, has already moved into the center. The three-year-old company is an online service that connects diverse and small businesses with companies that are seeking to expand and diversify their supplier bases.

"The Mason Tech Center is a unique alternative to a traditional startup incubator," says Sue Oswalt, vice president of operations and member services at Connxus. "By bringing together public and private resources, the City of Mason is building a location and community that is a great fit for a company like ours. We were excited to be the first startup company in the Mason Tech Center."

The tech center has about 25,000 square feet of available space and can accommodate up to 20 companies.

"Through an innovative partnership with Top Gun Sales Performance, these young companies can access energetic office space at below market rates, tap into a network of peer companies and an infrastructure of resources, which can propel them further, faster," says Michele Blair, director of economic development for the City of Mason. "To use an analogy, we aren't just planting a seed and waiting for it to rain. We've bioengineered the soil and are watering it regularly so the seed can grow faster, stronger."

By Feoshia H. Davis
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DAAP grad embraces innovation, nurtures young Design Geniuses

Rebecca Huffman’s circuitous route to UC’s Fashion Design program both inspired and informed her non-traditional senior thesis, Design Genius. More methodology than consumer good, Design Genius is a learning module that teaches students the value of education and the building blocks of problem-solving as they design their own products.

Unveiled at UC’s DAAPWorks, Design Genius takes a fresh approach to making learning relevant for kids of all ages, which is exactly what recent grad Huffman, 24, who works for LPK, wanted. 

“I knew that I wanted to do something that would help kids,” says Huffman, who spent a year working as a preschool teacher before starting her design training at DAAP.

As she considered what her culminating project for college would be, she thought back to a studio class in which she’d designed and created a real project, then put it up for sale in real life. Through that process, and its embrace of design-thinking, she saw the value of the disparate classes she’d taken through her academic career, from math to marketing and writing to psychology. And she felt empowered.

Her work as an LPK co-op increased her experience with design-thinking, an approach to problem-solving more often seen in Fast Company than elementary schools. 

“Design Genius is an attempt to solve the problem that our kids are facing by instilling a greater sense of educational purpose,” she says. 

She describes Design Genius on her website as “the culmination of five years of study and extensive research on the Creativity Quotient, Design Thinking in education, the concept of ‘failing forward,’ sociocultural trends impacting Generation Z, and the educational and social development of Tweens.”

What that looked like, in the end, were three, one-and-a-half hour sessions in two schools—St. Ursula Villa and Pleasant Ridge Montessori—in three different classes. Fourth and fifth grade students examined case studies in the form of fictional diary entries. Then, they ideated, revised and designed real products to help solve the problems of their fictional “customers.” 

“They learned everything I was trying to teach them,” Huffman says. “It was amazing.”

The students not only learned from the project, they loved it. Huffman received unprompted thank-you notes and testimonials when the students presented their products. She’s convinced that with a little tweaking, she can develop a fully functional learning module that can help young students not only design products, but create and sell them. 

By Elissa Yancey
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University of Cincinnati professor leads national PTSD treatment study

University of Cincinnati professor is one of three leading investigators in a national study that is comparing two treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

The 17-site, $9 million study will take about three years to complete, and it will involve approximately 500 veterans at VA medical facilities across the country, says UC Clinical Psychiatry Professor Kathleen Chard.

Researchers will compare two proven PTSD treatments:

Prolonged Exposure (PE), which allows patients to work through painful memories by re-experiencing traumatic events in  safe and supportive environments, and to engage in activities they've avoided because of trauma. Prolonged exposure also emphasizes education about treatment, common reactions to trauma and breath retraining.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), which focuses on patients' thoughts and feelings. This approach emphasizes how traumatic experiences changed the patients' thoughts and beliefs, and how those thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors. Patients identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts through structured therapy sessions and practice assignments.

The Institute of Medicine and the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences have endorsed both PSTD treatments, which are used for both military and civilian patients. One of the study's goals will be to determine which treatment works better when a patient has other problems, like depression or substance abuse.

Chard is co-author of the CPT military/veteran manual and the national CPT implementation director for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Both are gold standard treatments, but what we don't know is, if I have patient 'X,' which one should I put them in," she says. "What we have now is informed patient choice. We tell them about the treatments and they can decide what to do. We don't have solid research about what works best."

Chard is also director of UC's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience PTSD division, which is based at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center facility in Ft. Thomas. It likely will be one of the 17 testing sites.

The findings of the study will have an impact that reaches beyond treatment for members of the military, as PTSD has been diagnosed in people who have never been in the miliary, but who have seen or lived through dangerous events, including survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents and natural disasters.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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EVIS provides emergency evacuation technology for healthcare facilities

In case of fire or some other emergency, the need to quickly evacuate patients from a hospital or nursing home can often create confusion among staff members and rescue workers.
That’s what Saundra Stevens observed teaching and conducting emergency evacuation drills during her 25 years as a hospital R.N. and a nursing home consultant. “To confine the spread of fire, smoke and vapors, staff immediately shut all patient doors when an alarm sounds,” she says. “With all the doors shut, however, the dilemma was always how to identify which patient rooms had been evacuated and which hadn’t.”
Concerned, Stevens turned to her son, Rob Fuller, an engineer, to see if they could come up with a solution. They established EVIS, which stands for Evacuation Identification Systems. The Cincinnati-area company has developed two emergency evacuation products -- the Evacuation Status Indicator (ESI) and the Evacuation Status Module (ESM).
“ESI is a manual device made of metal that’s mounted on the wall outside an occupied room adjacent to the door handle,” Fuller explains. “The device is hinged and held in a closed position. When the device is opened, it reveals an embossed ‘E’ shape that’s tactile, reflective and visual. During an evacuation, the rescuer opens the device after they ensure the room is empty.”
The Evacuation Status Module is an electronic version of the Evacuation Status Indicator.

“The ESM software provides a real-time overhead view of any floor within the facility,” Fuller says. “The floor plan view contains markers for each room and indicates what the status of the room is – evacuated or occupied. It also provides room temperature, hallway temperature and any motion present inside the room. All this information is available to rescuers at a safe location and enables them to better manage the evacuation, making it faster, safer and more efficient.”

The University of Cincinnati Hospital is currently installing the Evacuation Status Module.
According to Fuller, the company’s two emergency evacuation systems are the only products of their kind on the market. 
The company has received funding from Ohio Third Frontier.
Source:  Rob Fuller, Saundra Stevens, EVIS
Writer:    Lynne Meyer

Grupo Xela marketing firm offers insight into Hispanic community

Grupo Xela is a marketing research agency that specializes in Hispanic demographics. Founded by Jose Cuesta in 2003, the company found success in Cincinnati by communicating an authentic and carefully researched Hispanic perspective to Procter & Gamble and QFact, among other locally owned businesses.

Originally from Colombia, Cuesta earned a BA in industrial engineering at Javeriana University. He came to Cincinnati in 1998, where he earned an MBA from Xavier University. Cuesta’s mother is originally from Cincinnati, and he was prompted by his family to move to the Queen City.

“You don’t go to Cincinnati unless you have a reason,” Cuesta says. “But there’s always a reason to go.”

After earning his degree from Xavier, Cuesta began working for Cincinnati Bell as a manager for various departments.

Cuesta founded what would eventually become Grupo Xela with his brother-in-law. Their first business attempt was as coffee distributors for regional restaurants, but their work in the city helped them realize the Hispanic community’s marketing potential. Prompted by the fact that Hispanics were the most rapidly growing minority in the country, Cuesta knew he could offer a very important perspective to P&G—Cincinnati’s powerhouse corporation.

By interacting with Hispanic panelists sourced from Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta and Miami, Grupo Xela’s chief concern is gathering qualitative market research.

The company has since gone international, with a United States' headquarters in Cincinnati, and a Colombian office in Bogota, with plans to expand into more cities and countries soon. 

By Sean Peters

Cincinnati's SocialPoint combines social media into one, user-friendly feed

SocialPoint is a new web-based service that combines major forms of social media into one feed. Users can control what services they’re accessing with simple clicks, which helps make the management of personal profiles much simpler.

Created in Cincinnati, SocialPoint was developed by a local team of techies who wanted to make the social media experience more efficient.

“We found that we were spending a lot of time every day checking in with our friends on all our various social media sites, and that we needed a solution for ourselves, so we developed SocialPoint.Me,” says Chris Burnett, SocialPoint’s vice president of marketing.

SocialPoint makes it very easy to navigate between different profiles on connected accounts, which still provide the standard features offered by the original sites. For example, if you wanted to check your Facebook account, SocialPoint gives you the option to filter specific categories. If you are just interested in seeing photos uploaded by your friends, you’d select the preset on the easy-to-navigate sidebar. Your search can be as specific as you want. Plus, you're still able to chat with your Facebook friends with SocialPoint. 

Similar features are also available for Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare and AT&T.

While most social media apps are aimed at business owners who are more interested in tidying up their “online estates,” SocialPoint is intended for personal users who want to continue sharing and keeping up with friends in the many ways the expanding idea of “social media” allows.

A mobile app will soon be available, along with an early summer update with additional social media customization options.

SocialPoint’s office is in the heart of downtown, and all of their funding comes from Chicago West Pullman LLC, which is headquartered at 600 Vine Street. 

By Sean Peters

Proposal could boost solar panel manufacturing, reduce Cincy's carbon footprint

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls introduced a motion that could change the way residents and businesses pay for powering their spaces with solar energy.

She says the benefits are two-fold -- increasing the demand for solar panel manufacturing and lowering the city's reliance on fossil fuels.

This plan is one of several energy-saving initiatives introduced since City Council adopted the Green Cincinnati Plan in 2008. That plan included a goal of one in every five Cincinnati buildings incorporating rooftop panels fueled by solar power by 2028.

"There's an emerging solar manufacturing sector here, and we would be creating a financing mechanism that would allow the demand to emerge for solar energy," Qualls says. "It's not a viable option for many property owners right now."

Qualls introduced a measure that directs the city to look into working with local environmental organizations like Green Umbrella, the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to help create a Property Assisted Clean Energy, or PACE, financing program.

PACE programs is a public/private initiative that are enabled by legislatures in nearly three dozen states across the country—including Ohio—which help business and homeowners pay for energy upgrades to existing buildings. Typically, participating property owners can finance those upgrades as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years.

"It's tax neutral, promotes 'going green' and reduces our carbon footprint," Qualls says.

The city has used the property tax assessment mechanism before for property owners who have been responsible for other large fixes, Qualls says.

"It has been done to pay for costly repairs over time—that's the same principle PACE follows," she says.

Ohio passed its PACE law in 2009. In 2012, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority issued the first PACE bonds in Ohio for a project to upgrade the City of Toledo’s municipal buildings.

Cincinnati must pass its own legislation for a local PACE program. Quall's motion directs the administration to bring the legislation back to Council within 60 days.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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