Barrett Thomas, the director of economic development at the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development has been selected one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers of 2019.

Barrett Thomas will receive his award at Consultant Connect’s ECONOMIX event in Charleston, S.C.Consultant Connect is a consulting agency designed to bridge the gap between economic developers and site consultants.“We’re thrilled to have Barrett Thomas included on this list. Since joining the Chamber/RCDG, he has worked hard to lead economic development efforts to better our community," said Jodie A. Perry, President/CEO of the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development.The economic development professionals selected were nominated by their colleagues in both the economic development industry and the site consultant community for excellent practices, innovation and success in building the communities they serve.Each top 50 economic developer will be featured individually, starting May 20, through the selected social media channels of LinkedIn and Twitter. Each award winner will share leadership insights and wisdom for other practitioners in the profession.“This annual list recognizing North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers is designed to acknowledge the hard work of the top leaders in this field and elevate the conversation around economic development and job creation,” said Ron Kitchens, managing partner of Consultant Connect.“Each of the leaders represented on this year’s list are beyond deserving of this recognition for their efforts in building our communities," Kitchens said.

Read more: Former Braintree business advisor Barrett Thomas earns national honor URL:

Three startups featured at SunDown RunDown in Mansfield

May 10, 2019
by Tracy Geibel, Richland source
The Old Bag of Nails Pub was buzzing with activity Thursday evening for Sundown Rundown, where three area entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a mix of investors, business owners and other community leaders. Among the group was Mansfield resident, Trent Balduff, who one day hopes to make a living doing what he loves -- beekeeping.

T's Bees-----Among the group of three pitches at SunDown RunDown Thursday night was Mansfield resident, Trent Balduff, who one day hopes to make a living doing what he loves -- beekeeping. The 23-year-old has already launched one business, called T's Bees and plans to start up a nonprofit, called Have A Hive, which could fund his and other hives. "I'm a hippie. I've always been an environmentalist. If you someone picking up trash on the side of the road, it's probably me. If you see someone recycling, it's probably me," Balduff said. "And so after seeing that bees are dying out, I've been keeping bees for a few years." Through individual or group sponsorship, he explained, his and other beehives could be fully funded. And those who support the beekeepers could receive items like honey, soap and candles in return for their support. Some groups, Balduff said, could even receive all the honey made from their sponsored hives. Balduff was also recently appointed to be Richland County's apiarist. Grub2You---------- Mansfielder and owner of Grub2You, Kyle Miller also pitched Thursday evening. His business delivers from places like Buck's Bar and Grill and The Local at 97 in Lexington, Chipotle and TGI Fridays in Ontario, Bistro 217 and Granny's Kitchen in Galion and a few spots in Crestline and Bucyrus for delivery costs starting at $4.99.A serial entrepreneur, Kyle Miller explained to the crowd how he built Grub2You into a profitable business, but is now looking to sell and move onto other ventures. He believes Grub2You is the ideal model for food service delivery in small cities and towns and hopes someone will consider taking it further. FarmFare--------After pitching at Sundown Rundown, the final people to speak Thursday evening will go on to present their idea to a panel at Google later this year. Co-founders of FarmFare, Cullen Naumoff of New York City and Laura Adiletta of Cleveland Heights, believe their idea will become a major platform for the growing number of food hubs in the U.S. to connect with small-scale growers."We've been taking every opportunity we have to pitch in front of a captive audience. It's really great because it's good practice and a chance to make connections," said Adiletta.Naumoff agreed, noting that the duo has been taking advantage of any pitch event they can find."I think every time you pitch, you hone your message and hone in how you talk about it," she said.

Read more: Three startups featured at SunDown RunDown in Mansfield URL:

A "micro-farm" in Mansfield is helping to bridge the gap for families living in food deserts. Soon, these micro-farms will be sprouting up across neighborhoods in Richland County, bringing fresh food to tables, and in time, jobs.

Soon, micro-farms will be sprouting up across neighborhoods in Richland County, bringing fresh food to tables, and in time, jobs.Amanda Stanfield is a proud mother of seven, doing what any mom would: trying to give her kids the best life, filled with quality food. “Our kids — we want them to have that fresh food, but we feel like the access is definitely not there,” Stanfield said. “This is a food desert.”The nearest grocery store is several miles away, making a trip anything but convenient.“We still try to have a healthy options for them, like an apple with peanut butter, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Stanfield said. “Not just chips. We don’t want them to have empty calories.”The fresh fruit in her cupboard and on her cutting board isn’t abundant.“My husband and I tease each other all the time because he will say, ‘You didn’t tell me I wasn’t allowed to eat that,’” Stanfield said. “I know that it’s in the refrigerator because it’s not easy to get to the grocery store.”Now, blackberries, fresh greens, and more will all be in her backyard. This produce is being delivered to homes across the country. Stanfield’s micro-fram is part of a bigger project that sprung up out of a parking lot at Ohio State University in Mansfield.Associate Professor Kip Curtis said the wheels started turning, and the idea sprouted years ago when describing the Mansfield area as abundant with food deserts.Curtis said the “lack of access to fresh foods, the challenges that were presented to families are so insurmountable.” That lack of food, in turn, causes a huge hit to the overall health of an area.“Because they are eating more processed, salty, sugary food, we see higher levels of diabetes,” Curtis said. “We see higher levels of childhood obesity.”A one-third acre of land is where the micro-farm project started, turning bland canned foods into meals vibrant with color, and helping families swap fast food for fresh food.Curtis received a $2 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research. Ten micro-farms are expected to spring up in the next three years during the pilot project, all operated by trained volunteers.At the end of the pilot program, those could become paying jobs.The pilot system represents a scalable fresh produce marketing core for local veggie producers, serving as an example for other cities to follow suit.Stanfield’s micro-farm will be thriving and producing next month.

Read more: News5 featured Mansfield microfarm project that Braintree is a collaborator in URL:

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research has awarded a matching grant to OSU-Mansfield to launch a $2 million urban sustainable food system project that will increase access to fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops, while supporting the local economy.

The project was developed and is being managed by Associate Professor of Environmental History Kip Curtis at The Ohio State University at Mansfield.The microfarm network will progress over three years, allowing for researchers and growers to calibrate the growing, harvesting and marketing processes for the local setting.In the meantime, a parallel interdisciplinary research team will measure the ways in which this embedded local production system impacts a range of local issues from food insecurity, to urban beautification, to food literacy and educational achievement.The Mansfield Microfarm Project will provide both training and microfarm kits to approximately a dozen initial producers, and help them farm cooperatively and aggregate their produce for marketability.The microfarms will create a food production system that, when fully operating, will produce and sell enough fresh produce to become fully-sustainable economic drivers in the Mansfield-area economy.“This pilot effort of microfarms will establish a food system in the city of Mansfield that can collectively generate the volume and quality of specialty crops to compete for commercial markets,” Curtis. said“It will keep local dollars circulating within the community, rather than exporting them out, while promoting healthier lifestyles by providing residents with access to fresh, local produce right there in the neighborhood," he said.The project started in 2016 when Dr. Curtis brought his concept to faculty and staff participating in the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT), an Ohio State Discovery Themes initiative, which then catalyzed a cross-disciplinary conversation to develop the project.Curtis also led a group of six Ohio State Mansfield students in the design and construction of a demonstration urban microfarm on the Ohio State Mansfield Campus, which consisted of two high tunnels, housing raised plant beds, as well as several outside plant beds on a one-third-acre lot. They completed construction in the fall of 2017.When fully implemented, the local production pilot system will represent a scalable fresh produce marketing core for local vegetable producers.“Inconsistent access to affordable nutritious food is a problem that plagues communities nationwide,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “This project has the potential to transform agriculture production while simultaneously fostering local economic development. We are excited to pilot the microfarm model and explore the impact for the Mansfield community.”Curtis said the project is fundamentally focused on developing and fine-tuning an urban microfarm aggregation system designed to create genuine opportunity for participant producers in Mansfield.“The potential impact, however, extends well beyond the original microfarmers and one small urban aggregation system. If successful, such models present opportunities for urban growers in other redeveloping cities across Ohio and beyond," Curtis said.The FFAR grant provides one-to-one matching funding to develop and study a pilot community-based sustainable food production and aggregation system in Mansfield, Ohio.The match was made possible in large part through partnerships with the North End Community Improvement Collaborative, Mind Body Align and Braintree Business Development Center, as well as the generous support of the Fran and Warren Rupp Donor Advised Fund of the Richland County Foundation.The FFAR funding is also matched in part by donations from the new Sustainability Institute at Ohio State, as well as in-kind support from researchers in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Fisher College of Business, Knowlton School of Architecture, Department of History, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and College of Social Work.“This is truly a community effort,” Curtis said. “Our partners really hit it out of the park with their generous support for the vision.”

Read more: OSU-Mansfield launches $2 million food system project. Collaborators are Braintree, NECIC, Mind Body Align URL:

Aspire Technologies is now one of 14 Northeast Ohio startups to receive part of the $737k awarded by the Innovation Fund of the Lorain County Community College Foundation.

nnovation Fund Northeast Ohio, the region’s most active pre-seed fund for technology-based startups, has awarded a combined $737,500 to 14 start-up companies over the past six months. The companies will match the Innovation Fund awards, between $12,500 and $100,000, with non-state funding, enabling them to complete $25,000 to $200,000 projects that will advance their technologies or business models.This represents the 46th and 47th consecutive quarter of funding for the Innovation Fund. Dennis Cocco, director of the Innovation Fund and co-director of GLIDE, the technology incubator at Lorain County Community College that administers the fund, says that milestone is a direct indicator that Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial network is a thriving ecosystem in NE Ohio.“In addition to great new business ideas, the entrepreneurs starting these enterprises are some of the brightest and best equipped people we have funded,” he said. “The competition for our fund requires the entrepreneurs not only have a unique idea but they have to thoroughly understand the customers, the markets and how they are going to attach that opportunity.”Since its 2007 launch, the Innovation Fund has committed $14.062 million to 266 Northeast Ohio startups. Those startups have raised more than $527 million and created over 800 new jobs since receiving Innovation Fund investments.The companies below received funding in the 46th cycle, ending December 15, 2018. They were chosen after a three-month competitive application and selection process:Linear Labs ($25,000 |Cleveland provides AI-powered focus groups as a service. This results in the ability to rapidly conduct market research in a fraction of the time allowing customers to become more agile in product development.Octet Scientific ($25,000 | Cleveland) develops chemicals to improve the performance and longevity of batteries. The additives provide key advantages to promote promising outside technologies, particularly safe and economical Zinc-based alternatives.SeeLife ($25,000 | Bay Village) is a biofeedback game design for children six to eight years old to learn heart rate and self-relaxation control. The visuals change according to the player's heart rate. This is unique because no one has ever combined the expertise of biomedical art and game design as a tool to engage a young child adequately to master biofeedback.TurningMode ($25,000 | Chagrin Falls) is developing Sentinel, a patent-pending illumination system that optimizes lighting through computer vision, gesture recognition, and touch-free controls. Sentinel provides consistent illumination to multiple targets and eliminates shadows in real time, despite obstructions or interferences. The goal is to enhance visualization and automate illumination in the Operating Room allowing surgeons to focus on their critical task at hand.FlutterSocial ($50,000 |Willoughby) is an online platform that helps consumers hire multiple businesses to celebrate major events by matching the users with the local professionals based on their preferences, values, and who is connected through their network.Structured Monitoring Products ($50,000 |Elyria) is SMP is developing a non-contact vital-signs monitor that employs patented Doppler technology. The product detects vital signs--heart rate and respiration rate--without contact (no wires or leads are necessary). The veterinary market is being targeted initially and human applications will follow.Content Status ($100,000 | Mentor) developed automated product page auditing and monitoring This offers anyone selling products online with critical, actionable insights on their product content. The following companies received funding in the 47th cycle, ending March 15, 2019:Aspire Technologies Inc. ($12,500 |Mansfield) is an early stage company specializing in Information technology on wearable devices. Our products eliminate the limitations, both physical and mental, in athletes, law enforcement, and search and rescue personnel all across the world. This is accomplished by smart technology used to provide user specific data and functions integrated into wearable devices such as wristbands and gloves.FishMySpot ($25,000 | Canton) is a sharing economy platform that connects pond owners to people that want to fish. We cover all the marketing, booking, and general liability for our pond owners, while giving anglers a private experience.Datalogic CRM ($50,000 | Strongsville) provides a Quote -to -Cash SaaS application to businesses. The Splash CPQ quote-to-cash is a subscription based SaaS application that improves the productivity and workstyle of sales teams and channels worldwide by virtually eliminating sales administrative tasks, streamlining operational processes and centralizing multi-channel sales management at an affordable rate. The Splash CPQ customers may increase sales productivity by up to 40% by eliminating their sales administrative burden and improving the customer experience by automating and completing the sales process for suppliers, sellers and buyers.T-var EdTEch, Inc. ($50,000 |Cleveland) is developing Read Read - a hard and software solution that allows blind children to learn braille without the assistance of a teacher, but in the same way and with the same quality that a teacher would provide. Ranchbookings ($100,000 |Cleveland) is an enterprise software that helps adventure resorts get online bookings and manage the business. The product addresses unique constraints to the adventure travel industry.Mbrio Tech ($100,000 |Pepper Pike) patented earbud adapter is the safest, most comfortable, most convenient and most economical way for expectant moms to share music with their baby in the womb

Read more: Braintree's Aspire Technology receives regional Innovation Fund grant from Lorain County Community College Foundation URL: