WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 06.27.2014 115 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
p.g. sittenfeld.nar

Not-Quite-Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati startups, downtown grocery and income inequality

So I'm a bit late with news this morning, or the morning was a bit early, one of those. It probably has something to do with CityBeat winning six Cincinnati SPJ awards last night. Though I wasn't part of the team in 2013 when those awards were earned, I did my part by putting in extra hours celebrating. Anyway, enough about us. Here's what's going on in the world.Cincinnati’s startup community got some love yesterday when America Online cofounder Steve Case rolled into town with his Rise of the Rest tour, which celebrates entrepreneurs in American cities. Case praised Cincinnati’s progress in bringing vitality back to its downtown area and credited that renaissance at least in part to the city’s startups and young entrepreneurs. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzger, who is riding shotgun on the tour, also praised the Queen City for the level of access startups have to the large corporations in town. She said what the city needs now is a big hit — a startup that really makes it big and shows the world that Cincinnati is a great place to start a business. Mayor John Cranley was in the mix as well, touting Cincinnati’s strengths as a marketing town. He called the city “the best place in the world” for marketing entrepreneurs. While that’s kind of like your parents talking about how awesome you are to their work colleagues (of course he’s going to say that), Cranley’s point holds some weight — with so many big companies in town needing all sorts of fresh ideas, it can’t hurt to be living at their doorstep if you’re hoping to do some business with them.One Cincinnati startup, called Frameri, got $100,000 from Case and an invitation to pitch their business in Washington, D.C. Frameri, which makes high-style glasses with interchangeable frames and lenses, beat out seven other local businesses in a pitch competition. The company is an alum of OTR’s business incubator The Brandery. No word from Case yet on my business idea, which involves a food delivery service that launches burritos from those pneumatic tubes you see in old bank building drive-thrus. Still waiting for that call, Steve…• In other downtown news, Kroger is adjusting its ideas about starting a grocery store in the Central Business District. The Business Courier reports that Kroger CEO Roger McMullen discussed the chain’s plans for a downtown store at yesterday’s annual shareholder meeting, revealing that less may be more in the company’s eyes. Kroger had been mulling a full-size store here but is now considering something smaller and more specialized.• Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and other Democrats held an event this morning near UC criticizing Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio legislature for the low level of funding for higher education in the state. Democrats also gathered in Columbus to protest dwindling education spending, which they say make college unaffordable for many Ohio families. One talking point — Ohio’s budget spends less than 10 percent on higher education for the first time in four decades. Gov. Kasich has acknowledged that college affordability is a problem but says schools need to do more to cut costs and make sure degrees lead to good-paying jobs.• The Associated Press reports that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office is having a difficult time documenting how it goes about choosing law firms for special assignments. DeWine says there’s a rigorous process used to vet firms and decide who gets the lucrative state contracts, but public records request by AP found… nothing. It’s entirely possible that the AG’s dog ate the records or that maybe DeWine just keeps all that info in his head. The revelation comes as allegations are being made that these kinds of contracts are often awarded to firms who donate to the state Republican party. DeWine’s opponent for the AG post, Cincinnati-based lawyer David Pepper, has said DeWine’s office is engaged in a “pay to play” arrangement. DeWine, however, says his office’s choices are transparent and fair.• A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that political polarization, which is at an all-time high, contributes to income inequality. This is kind of like a two-for-one in the “hot political topics” world. The study doesn’t go so far as to nail down why the gap between America’s political ideologies tracks so closely with the gap in rich and poor Americans’ incomes, but it does make a couple guesses, which are worth reading about. Basically, it may have to do with the country’s rightward shift toward policies that tend to benefit more wealthy citizens. Or heck, maybe it’s just a big crazy coincidence and the tea party really will make everything great for everyone if we only embrace their Mad-Max style dreams for a government-less future. Could be.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.15.2013
Posted In: News, 2013 Election, Mayor at 12:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
john cranley

Cranley Unveils Innovation Plan

Mayoral candidate hopes to continue Cincinnati’s tech startup momentum

Cincinnati mayoral candidate and ex-Councilman John Cranley today announced his two-part innovation plan, which he said would boost government transparency and help continue the nationally recognized momentum Cincinnati has recently gained as a tech startup hub. The plan would take $5 million over four years from the capital budget and ask local startup incubators Cintrifuse, The Brandery and CincyTech where they would like to see the money going. As one example, Cranley said the money could help host an annual “hackathon” in which savvy innovators compete to create apps that could better connect residents and city services. When asked specifically where the money would come from, Cranley said it would be part of the $30 million the city allocates each year to capital projects. Cranley also remarked that the city will have more capital funds if he dismantles the streetcar project, which he has long opposed. Cranley’s innovation plan also calls for hiring a chief innovation officer (CIO) and creating “CincyData,” a transparency initiative that would gather and publish city data to create “a more efficient, effective and user-friendly City government.” “This is about improving customer service for city services,” Cranley said. The CIO and CincyData would also help find new ways to carry out city services in the hopes of running the local government more efficiently. Cranley said he’s in preliminary talks with Cincinnati Bell to see what it would take and how much it would cost to establish CincyData. As for the CIO, paying for the position’s salary would cost the city about $50,000 to $60,000 a year, according to Cranley. That’s about 0.01 to 0.02 percent of the city’s operating budget. Cranley said he currently has no one in mind for the CIO position. Cranley is running for mayor against fellow Democrat Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who has publicly supported Cincinnati’s startup incubators during her time in City Council; Libertarian Jim Berns; and Independent Sandra “Queen” Noble. Cincinnati recently gained national recognition for its tech boom in Entrepreneur and CNBC, with Entrepreneur calling the city “an unexpected hub for tech startups.” City Council on Aug. 7 approved using $4.5 million to help move Cintrifuse, The Brandery and CincyTech to new Over-the-Rhine headquarters. Cintrifuse claims the new home will make it easier to attract and keep businesses in Cincinnati, especially since Over-the-Rhine is currently undergoing its own economic revitalization. An Aug. 14 study from Engine and the Kauffman Foundation found high-tech startups add jobs more quickly than new businesses in other sectors, but the startups are also just as likely to fail as other businesses in the long term. The study also found that tech startups are more likely to cluster, so establishing a city or other location as a hub can help bring in more similar businesses.
 
 

City to Cut Ties with Local Startup Incubator

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The city of Cincinnati is suspending its relationship with SoMoLend, the local startup that the city partnered with in December to connect small businesses and startups with up to $400,000 in loans.   
by German Lopez 08.13.2013
Posted In: News, Abortion, Business, Pensions at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
vote logo

Morning News and Stuff

Pension amendment to appear on ballot, city cuts ties with SoMoLend, heartbeat bill returns

A tea party-backed pension amendment yesterday cleared the hurdle of 7,443 petition signatures required to appear on the November ballot. Cincinnati for Pension Reform, the group behind the amendment, had previously paid nearly $70,000 to petitioners to gather signatures. The amendment would privatize pension plans so the city and city employees hired after January 2014 would contribute to individual retirement accounts that the employee would then manage by independently selecting investments. That’s a shift from the current system in which the city pools pension funds and manages the investments through an independent board. But unlike private-sector employees, city workers might not qualify for Social Security, which means they’ll lack the safety net that typically comes with risky 401k-style plans. If workers do qualify for Social Security, the city would have to pay into the federal entitlement program, which would cost the city more money, according to an Aug. 5 report from the city administration. Cincinnati is cutting ties with SoMoLend, the local startup that had previously partnered with the city to connect small businesses and startups with $400,000 in loans. SoMoLend has been accused of fraud by the Ohio Division of Securities, which says the local company exaggerated its performance and financial figures and lacked the proper licenses to operate as a peer-to-peer lending business. The Division of Securities won’t issue a final order until after a hearing in October. SoMoLend’s specialty is using crowdfunding tactics to connect small businesses and startups with lenders. Ohio Republicans are considering bringing back the “heartbeat bill,” the controversial anti-abortion bill that would ban induced abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which could happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill could be reintroduced next week. That would come just a couple months after Republican legislators and Gov. John Kasich approved a slew of anti-abortion measures through the two-year state budget. The Ohio Senate will today hear testimony from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio about projections that show the state could save money if it takes up the Medicaid expansion. As part of Obamacare, states are asked to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In return, the federal government will pay for the expansion for the first three years and wind down to paying 90 percent of the costs after that. The Health Policy Institute previously estimated the expansion would save Ohio roughly $1.8 billion and insure nearly half a million Ohioans in the next decade. Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan is touting Cincinnati Safe Student Housing, a website that allows university students to pick from housing options that passed a free fire inspection. The website was unanimously approved by City Council following several university students’ deaths to fires, which council members argue could have been prevented with stronger standards. The new owner of the former Terrace Plaza Hotel says he will reopen the building as a hotel. Alan Friedberg, managing principal of the company that bought the building earlier this year, says the process of bringing back the building will take a lot of time and work, considering it’s now been vacant for three years. Four Greater Cincinnati hospitals have been recognized for protecting the LGBT rights of patients and employees by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation: Bethesda North Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Cincinnati Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana in Ohio. DeWine claims the summary for the ballot initiative is untruthful and leaves out various important details. Mason, a Cincinnati suburb, was ranked one of the top 10 places to live by CNNMoney. Maybe CNN really likes Kings Island. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown was in Cincinnati yesterday to call on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to expedite processing on benefit claims. The VA currently has a backlog of 500,000 veterans, according to a press release from Brown’s office. Introducing Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, a proposal for a railway system that would use high-pressure tubes to shoot passengers around the country. It’s estimated traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco, which normally takes about five and a half hours, would only take 30 minutes in the tubes.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.12.2013
Posted In: News, Business, Economy at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
somolend

City to Cut Ties with SoMoLend

Local startup accused of fraud by state

The city of Cincinnati is suspending its relationship with SoMoLend, the local startup that the city partnered with in December to connect small businesses and startups to $400,000 in loans. The broken partnership comes in response to accusations of fraud from the Ohio Division of Securities that have forced SoMoLend to stop giving out loans in the state and could lead to the business’s shutdown. City spokesperson Meg Olberding told CityBeat in an email that although the city partnered with SoMoLend in December, it has yet to give out any loans through the crowdfunding incubator. The Ohio Division of Securities says SoMoLend failed to gather the proper federal and state licenses for a peer-to-peer lending business and falsely inflated its performance and financing figures. SoMoLend gained local and national recognition for supposedly helping foster startup and small businesses by linking them to loans through crowdfunding — a particularly promising proposition given the state of the economy and research from the National Bureau of Economic Research that shows startups are the best drivers for economic and job growth. But with the extent of the charges, it’s questionable whether SoMoLend had any success to begin with. Candace Klein, CEO of SoMoLend, told The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday that the company is currently in talks with the state. She stressed that the Ohio Division of Securities won’t issue a final order against SoMoLend until after a hearing scheduled for October. SoMoLend, which stands for Social Mobile Local Lending, was founded in 2011. The business’s specialty is using crowdfunding tactics to connect small businesses and startups with lenders. It then packages the loans to sell them as notes and charges a fee or commission for its services.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.06.2013
Posted In: News, Business, 2013 Election, The Banks at 09:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Voting begins for mayoral primary, Cintrifuse to get OTR home, The Banks moves forward

Early voting for the mayoral primary election begins today. The top two winners of this round of voting will go head-to-head in the Nov. 5 election. The candidates: Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a Democrat who supports the streetcar and parking lease; ex-Councilman John Cranley, a Democrat who opposes the streetcar and parking lease; Jim Berns, the Libertarian who attempted to withdraw from the race but changed his mind a day later; and Sandra “Queen” Noble, an eccentric Independent candidate who sent an F-bomb-laden email to debate organizers. Cincinnati Council’s Budget and Finance Committee approved the construction of Over-the-Rhine headquarters for Cintrifuse, the startup incubator. The company has been working from a temporary location downtown, but it claims it needs a better space to continue attracting businesses, particularly those in the tech field. Cintrifuse will be joined in its new home by CincyTech and the Brandery. Although all council members voiced support for Cintrifuse, Councilman Chris Seelbach disputed using Focus 52 funds to build the new headquarters. The city administration previously told Seelbach that the Focus 52 money wouldn’t be used to further develop Over-the-Rhine, which has received a disproportionate amount of city funding to spur the neighborhood’s revitalization. The committee also approved changes for the next phase of The Banks, which will include retail space and a nine-story apartment building with about 305 apartments. The first phase of The Banks filled up fast and won a top award — two big positives the city and county obviously hope to replicate with the next leg of the project. It’s now up to the development team behind the project and the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners to approve the next phase. Council members and city officials voiced opposition yesterday to a tea party campaign to change Cincinnati’s pension system. Council members acknowledged the current pension system has problems, but they called the campaign, which is currently gathering petitions to get a proposal on the November ballot, misguided and flawed. The proposal would change the city’s pension system to use a defined contribution model similar to 401k plans that are common in the private sector. But just like private sector plans, the new system might require paying into Social Security, which would make the plan more expensive for Cincinnati. Ohio House Republicans are being asked to hold oversight hearings for JobsOhio, the state-funded, privatized development agency that has been mired in controversy in the past few weeks. Most recently, Dayton Daily News discovered that some members of the JobsOhio board are employed by, on the board of or stockholders in companies that are receiving state aid through JobsOhio. Republicans say JobsOhio’s privatized and secretive nature allow it to move faster with deals that attract businesses and jobs to the state, but Democrats argue the agency is too unaccountable and might be wasting and misusing taxpayer money. Billy Slagle, the convicted murderer who apparently hung himself over the weekend, died without knowing of a plea deal that could have prevented his scheduled execution. CityBeat wrote about Slagle’s case in further detail here. The Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is upset that charges have been dropped against an allegedly abusive Amish dog breeder. The group had pushed for charges against Jonas Beachy, the breeder, after 52 dogs were pulled from his central Ohio farm with dental disease, feces-smeared coats and paws mangled by wire mesh cages. Circleville Law Director Gary Kenworthy conditionally dismissed the charges because of problems securing veterinarian records for the dogs. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced in a statement today that the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, the Ohio Department of Public Safety and ODJFS will be working with the Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers to help minors who are victims of human trafficking. The new collaboration is seen as another step to stop human trafficking in Ohio, an issue that has haunted the state in the past. Metro’s bus service is adding routes and changing connections on Aug. 18. BuzzFeed has a list of “31 Ways To Tell You’re From Cincinnati,” but the list reads like something from 2001. Who’s avoiding Over-the-Rhine with all its new restaurants and after LumenoCity? Popular Science has a rundown on how 3-D printing body parts will revolutionize medicine.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 07.12.2013
Posted In: Culture at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cincinnati innovates

Here Are the Top Five Cincinnati Innovates Entries

Voting on local progressive, transformative ideas ends July 15

There's $100,000 on the line waiting to be handed out to 12 ambitious groups of Cincinnatians with big ideas, and every applicant is hoping to earn your vote. They're all contestants in Cincinnati Innovates, a contest designed to support Cincinnatians with progressive, transformative ideas of any kind — and sometimes they're pretty quirky. This year there's an entry to raise awareness about how to steep tea, one for a woman named Mickey who wants to expand her CheeseSicles (frozen cheesecake on a stick) biz, another proposal that wants to develop a local indoor shrimp farm and one that wants funding to make "Bitch Bras" for dogs. But go look for yourself...there are plenty more, including the folks behind the Please and Carriage House Farm outdoor dinner series, recently profiled in a CityBeat cover story here.Some of the proposals have a potential to impact not just Cincinnati, but also the great, big world outside us. Voting ends July 15, so there's still time to shake up the rankings; the proposal with the most votes when the polls close will win $2,500, but the rest will be doled out by judges after deliberation. Last year the top winner was "Skinny Mom," spearheaded by Brooke Griffin. Griffin won $25,000 to support her network of mom bloggers who share info on food, fashion, fitness and family trends. The applicants who've earned the top 5 votes so far are as follows: 1.) 3DLT.com - These guys want to create an online database based off the iStockphoto model, instead for 3D designs that can be purchased and printed at home, online or at a local 3D print shop. If you haven't heard about 3D printing, you probably will soon — it's what gave Buttercup the duck a new leg and it can also be used to print things like eyeglasses, jewelry, casts and tons of other things. Their website is already up and running, but they're looking for support to work on making 3D printing more accessible to the public. 2.) Fly Up Fitness - Applicant Brent Kruithof's inspiration for Fly Up Fitness, the portable fitness device, arose from his frustration with his busy schedule that made it difficult to make trips to gym. His "Fly Up" device uses body weight as resistance to exercise chest muscle, but the video shows a bunch of other ways to get your fitness on that don't look too terribly intimidating. 3.) Perfect Pass - This one's targeting a pretty specific market: quarterbacks. Pat McLaughlin, football coach at Moeller High School, developed "Perfect Pass" to train quarterbacks to throw a football properly by building muscle memory.  4.) Please & Carriage House Education Kitchen - CityBeat last month covered Please & Carriage House Farm's dynamic outdoor dining series taking place this summer, and now the duo is looking for funding to grow its system into a full-scale facility offering "education kitchen" classes and workshops to encourage the community to use and appreciate local, healthy foods. 5.) Fit Mommies - There is apparently a humongous and very active community of moms trying to get rid of their pooches. Fit Mommies is a local workout program designed specifically for prenatal and postnatal fitness. They're hoping to win so they can expand the business into a mobile app and an online workout platform.
 
 
by German Lopez 12.05.2012
Posted In: News, Government, Economy at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city-somolend partnership

City Partnership to Support Small Businesses, Startups

Cincinnati to work with SoMoLend in lending plan

The city of Cincinnati will be pairing up with a web-based lending platform to help out small businesses and startups. With the approval of the Small Business Advisory Committee, the city and SoMoLend will give up to $400,000 in loans to stimulate economic growth and job creation. The partnership will aid small businesses and startups through crowd funding, which connects multiple potential lenders so no single investor, including the city government, is carrying the a bulk of the burden. Since crowd funding gets more investors involved, it can also raise more money for promising startups and small businesses. Businesses will be picked through SoMoLend’s typical application process, which emphasizes startups and small businesses. Successful applicants usually have 15 or fewer employees, meet a few standards regarding business and personal finances and prove they actually need a commercial loan. In the past, businesses have raised as much as $1 million in loans with SoMoLend. Applicants will also have to go through the city’s application process. The city government will look at how many jobs are created, what’s the capital investment involved, how much the city will give relative to private lenders and other similar metrics. Even as the economy recovers, small businesses and startups are having a tough time getting loans in comparison to bigger businesses. So the focus on small businesses and startups is in part to bring beneficial fairness to the system, says Meg Olberding, city spokesperson. “Access to capital at all levels has to happen. And the city government feels like small businesses are key to growth in our local economy.” The partnership’s focus on startups is economically sound. Governments and politicians love to herald small businesses as the drivers of economic growth, but studies suggest startups are more deserving of the praise. A paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that young small businesses, or startups, are the key drivers to economic and job growth.  As for why SoMoLend was picked over other platforms, Olberding says location and history played a role: “It’s a local small business, so it’s … demonstrating what we’re talking about. It’s also a demonstrated success in terms of bringing viable businesses to the market.” The partnership is part of an ongoing effort to spur small businesses and startups in Cincinnati. SBAC was created in 2012 to pave a clearer, better path that encourages such businesses in the city. SBAC reviewed, gave feedback and approved the new partnership earlier today.Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, head of SBAC, praised the partnership in a statement: “I am excited that the SBAC approved the city’s new partnership with SoMoLend today. By making city lending more efficient and expanding the network of small businesses receiving city assistance, this new partnership fits well into the SBAC’s goal of making Cincinnati a better place for small business.”
 
 

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