By Deborah Davis, Director Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center

Hi Cincinnati! Welcome to business highlights

Meet Jerome Napier, executive member/CEO of Advanced Mechanical Insulators

By Deborah Davis,

Director Cincinnati MBAC

African American Chamber


       This month I am featuring business owner Jerome Napier, executive member/CEO of Advanced Mechanical Insulators (AMI), LLC.

Before I tell you about his business, let me tell you about the businessman.  Jerome Napier is a man who showed grit and determination in making something of his life; he went from “negative to positive.’’  

     AMI was formed by an entrepreneur who gained his business intelligence not by attending business school but by hustling on the city streets of Cincinnati. Never wanting to end up on welfare and working several odd jobs as a youth, Jerome Napier wanted to be his own boss he wanted

His dream took shape while spending six months in the penitentiary for drug possession, it was his third number and he knew he had to make a change.  He knew that the path he was taking was going to lead to his death or a long stay in the penitentiary. 

“Going to the penitentiary was the red flag for me – I love money, but I didn’t want to go to jail for it or die for it” Napier said.  His decision to change led him to a three-month construction program in Cincinnati.  After completing the program, Napier attended a job fair where he signed up with all of the contractors in attendance.  The Insulators and Stone Masons were the only contractors that called him for an interview. After successfully passing the Insulators and Stone Mason exams to become an apprentice he chose to pursue the path of becoming an Insulator.  Because he said, “he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life doing back breaking work as a Stone Mason.’’

As an apprentice, Napier endured more than six years of being subjected to harsh discriminatory practices, which would have left many young men resentful and angry.  But not him, he endured the pain, because he knew at the end of the tunnel was a light – there was success; an opportunity to have his own business and be in financial control of his life.

Two and half years ago, Advanced Mechanical Insulators, LLC was established. AMI is a local commercial and industrial insulating company whose workforce has the advanced skills and training that is needed to assist with the delivery of services that include, but are not limited to, mechanical insulation, fire stopping, sound proofing and specialty fabrications required in custom mechanical insulation installations. AMI also utilizes best practices for green installation and are most qualified for LEED certified projects.

Utilizing the lessons learned as an apprentice, Napier was relentless in building his customer base.  He attended Blue Book Building & Construction Networking events, made numerous phone calls to companies which ultimately placed him face to face with key decision makers. Although, his business began to reap the benefits of his tenaciousness he was still having difficulties pushing the door of opportunity fully open because he said, “it’s almost impossible to get into this field of business because contractors use the same subcontractors that they are used to dealing with and to be the new guy on the block it’s like, who are you.’’

On June 23, 2016, one final push occurred, Jerome became MBE/EDGE certified with the State of Ohio.  In just a couple of weeks after becoming certified, Napier states that bid invitations, connections and contacts tripled.  “The opportunity is there to make money and grow my business – its more than I expected.”

He credits the Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center as helping him through the certification process and in assisting him in becoming the professional business owner that he is today.  His advice to entrepreneurs who may want to give up is to “get connected, network and take advantage of all of the opportunities that are available to you.’’ 

Napier’s long-term goal is to grow his business so he can create jobs and opportunities for people who have traveled similar paths – going from “negative to positive.’’  

Jerome Napier is a Gold Medal Winner!

For more information about Advanced Mechanical Insulators, LLC contact Jerome Napier, Executive Member/CEO:

260 Northland Blvd. Suite 304A

Cincinnati, Ohio 45246

(C):513-371-0851

(E): ami.inc@outlook.com


6071 Branch Hill Guinea Pk. Bldg. A

Milford, Ohio 45150

Warehouse: (O) 513-630-1340 (F):513-722-1100


www.advancedmechanicalinsulators.co

For more information about Cincinnati MBAC contact:
Deborah Davis, Director Cincinnati MBAC
African American Chamber
Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky
2945 Gilbert Ave., Cincinnati, OH
513- 751-9900

African American Chamber Business Highlights

Byna Elliott. Photo provided

Cincinnati - Fifth Third Bancorp and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) signed a landmark $30 billion community development plan through 2020. The plan builds on the $27.5 billion community commitment that Fifth Third announced in February 2016, and is the largest by a single bank in recent history.


The full press announcement can be accessed at www.53.com/commitment.

The plan covers the 10 states in which Fifth Third has branches and follows weeks of discussions and six meetings between Fifth Third and community groups working with NCRC in Cincinnati, Chicago, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Washington, D.C.

The plan calls for Fifth Third to invest $30 billion in its communities over a five-year period, which began January 1, 2016.


Sister Barbara Busch, executive director of Working in Neighborhoods in Cincinnati, said, “I am glad to see that Fifth Third is willing to work with communities to provide equal access to mortgages and other banking products at a competitive rate. I am looking forward to seeing changes in Fifth Third’s products and programs to achieve equity for low- and moderate-income and minority communities.”

Brian Lamb, chief corporate responsibility and reputation officer for Fifth Third Bank, said, “The commitment itself demonstrated a higher level of focus and energy,” explaining that this investment is a long-term multi-year investment in key areas such as mortgage lending, and increased access to capital by small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Rather than telling the community what was needed, Lamb said that 200 organizations in six cities have been involved in shaping Fifth Third’s long-term strategy. Some of the common themes expressed by the community groups include first-time homebuyers, affordable housing, access to local banking professionals, and financial empowerment.

“This is year one of a five-year commitment,” Lamb said, adding that updates will be shared by the first quarter of next year. He said that the community advisory forums will augment Fifth Third’s commitment, transparency, and engagement.


Lending and investments of $30 billion covered under this agreement include the following categories: mortgage lending, small business lending, including micro-lending; and community development lending and investing. The agreement also covers $158.4 million in community initiatives, including financial services, branch openings, marketing and research, product development and cooperative public policy advocacy for low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities.

“This substantive and detailed community development plan was the result of a collaborative process with community members and bank leaders,” said NCRC President and CEO John Taylor. “We applaud President and CEO Greg Carmichael and the senior leadership of Fifth Third, who after putting out a significant community commitment earlier in the year, was willing and eager to deeply engage NCRC and its member organizations in significant discussions to ensure the commitments made were in areas of the greatest community need and put in place rigorous accountability for their bank and the communities they serve.”

Fifth Third Bancorp President & CEO Greg D. Carmichael, said, “Fifth Third is deeply committed to both investing significant resources into the community as well as engaging community members and leaders. Our objective is to ensure that, together with the NCRC, we meaningfully impact the communities we serve. We appreciate and value the collaboration with John Taylor and all the NCRC member organizations who met with us to enable the expansion of our original commitment in ways that will best improve lives.”

“Fifth Third and NCRC’s investment in Ohio will create opportunities for businesses and families to seek the resources they need to make their communities stronger,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. “I applaud these organizations for working with people across the state, and I’m glad their investment will provide meaningful help to Ohioans."

A summary of the community development plan follows:

Lending & tax credit investments: $30 billion

1. Mortgage lending: $11 billion:
      Fifth Third increased its overall goal for mortgage lending to LMI borrowers and census tracts, and added a home purchase sub-goal. The commitment includes product innovation to address community needs, and includes a Second Look Program, down payment assistance, support for housing counseling, and other activities, including affirmative marketing and outreach, evaluation and improvement of its Fair Housing/Lending program, and the continuation of its current policy of not imposing minimum loan amounts.

2. Small business lending: $10 billion:
     Fifth Third is committed to improving its lending to small businesses with gross annual revenue below a million in all markets and communities. The commitment includes increased support for small businesses, product innovation, and enhanced underwriting and fulfillment.

3. Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Community Development Lending: $9 billion:
     Fifth Third will strive to achieve peer-leading performance in the amount of combined community development loans and investments (CDLI) over the course of the five-year commitment. Increases in CDLI activities will be supported by initiatives in affordable housing, a revolving loan fund, community development corporations, community development financial institutions, community pre-development resources, housing rehab loan pools and land banks.   The Fifth Third Community Development Corporation will also make $1 billion in tax credit investments.

 Fifth Third Impact Programming: $158.4 million

Fifth Third Impact Programming includes: housing-related investments, small business-related investments, philanthropy and community sponsorships, diverse hiring, supplier diversity, financial empowerment programming, services and basic banking, including branches and staffing, and other investments and marketing.

Fifth Third will make housing-related investments that address the gap for consumers who need down payment assistance to achieve homeownership, support housing counseling and financial literacy to help families and individuals achieve their long-term financial goals, and help fund housing loan pools for minor home repairs or gap financing to support neighborhood revitalization. Fifth Third Bank will also make small business-related investments that provide technical assistance for small business development and growth, and support the ecosystem for small business lending. The Bank will strengthen communities through significant philanthropic grants and donations and impactful community sponsorships. Charitable giving will include a focus on providing organizations with resources for capacity building, workforce training, and assistance for older adults.

The Fifth Third Impact programming includes branch and staff commitments. Fifth Third will seek to open at least 10 more branches in LMI and/or high minority communities. Fifth Third will establish the position of Senior CRA Mortgage Lender, and continue to retain and hire mortgage loan originators focused on CRA success. It will expand small business staffing with a newly-created role for CRA Small Business lenders.


Fifth Third’s Inclusion and Diversity Plan supports the Bank’s commitment to ensure that its human capital is inclusive and diverse. The Bank will increase its efforts to support diverse suppliers, minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses.


Fifth Third Impact programming also includes the delivery of Fifth Third’s L.I.F.E. (Lives Improved through Financial Empowerment®) programs, which strive to reach consumers at every age and stage of life through foundational financial education. These programs include, but are not limited to programs for children and teens, including the Fifth Third Bank Young Bankers Club®, and programs for adults like Fifth Third Bank Empower U® adult financial education courses. Fifth Third’s L.I.F.E. programs also include the Company’s Financial Empowerment Mobiles, or eBuses, which deliver financial education, job training, tax preparation and other assistance directly to low- and moderate-income communities on their own and in partnership with local community organizations.


In addition to NCRC and Fifth Third Bank, the agreement was signed by 145 member organizations, including Cincinnati NAACP; Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency; City of Dayton Human Relations Council; Collective Empowerment Group of Cincinnati; Community Matters, Cincinnati; Community United for Action, Cincinnati; Comprehensive Valuation Services LLC, Florence, Ky.; County Corp., Dayton; Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce; Friends of the African Union Chamber of Commerce, Cincinnati; Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative; Greater Dayton Premier Management; Hamilton County Community Reinvestment Group, Cincinnati; Home Ownership Center of Greater Dayton; Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Greater Cincinnati; Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, Cincinnati;
Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation, Cincinnati; Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Inc., Dayton; Miami Valley Urban League, Dayton; Montgomery County, Dayton; Ohio SBDC at The Entrepreneurs Center, Dayton; Price Hill Will, Cincinnati; Small Business Development Center at Wright State University, Dayton;
The Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati; The Omega Community Development Corporation, Dayton; UMADAOP, Cincinnati;
Wesley Community Center Dayton; and Working In Neighborhoods, Cincinnati.

By Deborah Davis

MBAC Director

African American Chamber of Commerce

Hi Cincinnati! Welcome to Business Highlights. This month, I would like to introduce you to the Sudduth Society program and two of its participants.  Currently, Sudduth Society has six business owners who are attending weekly business classes to enhance their expertise and create strategies to grow their business.

Just a little background on the Sudduth Society:

The Sudduth Society, named after influential Cincinnati African American hotelier Horace Sudduth, is a 90-day business hyper growth program. It helps existing businesses build capacity to become the region’s next set of high-growth, minority-led businesses. A key component of the Sudduth is the African American Chamber’s Procurement Advisory Council. Participants are directly connected with the procurement teams from some of the region’s more prominent firms.  Weekly sessions are led by subject matter experts allowing the entrepreneurs to gain a deeper understanding of their businesses and explore new tactics for growth.  The program ends with a Pitch Day to the Procurement Advisory Council as well as local business and community leaders.  

Sudduth Society focuses on next level companies, that are already generating revenue.  These entrepreneurs are Cincinnati’s next set of business and community leaders which the Sudduth and the many resources of the African American Chamber, SQUARE1 and the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC), are utilizing to fuel their success.

For more information and to become a Sudduth Society participant, please email keith@startatsquare1.com.

To learn more about the services offered by the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC), please contact Deborah Davis, MBAC Director, at 513-791-9900
deborah@african-americanchamber.com

       About The Sudduth Society The program is named after Horace Sudduth, a successful Cincinnati African American businessman in the early 1900’s.   A strong supporter of progressive business thinking, Sudduth owned the Manse Hotel, a prominent area hotel known for hosting influential African American visitors such as Sammy Davis Jr. Sudduth also served as president of the Industrial Federal Savings & Loan Association, the National Negro Business League, and the New Orphanage for Colored Children of Cincinnati, among other civic organizations. 

About the African American Chamber, The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce is the largest African American Chambers in the State of Ohio.  We are as committed to inclusion as we are to business development; and as focused on advocacy as we are on building capacity.  We will leverage regional partnerships and collaboration with organizations and supplier diversity and inclusion experts to empower your business to succeed. 

About SQUARE1, SQUARE1, Inc. is an entrepreneurial education and business accelerator services nonprofit providing resources to a broad range of individuals interested in turning ideas and research into business startups.  The mission is to work collaboratively to grow the ecosystem that supports their efforts.  This revolves around educational opportunities and the optimization of resources to better support individuals seeking to improve their personal situations or contribute to the growth of our community through new business creation. 

Brian Lamb. Photo provided

Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau Forms Task Force

Deborah Davis. Photo provided

Susan Thomas, executive vice president of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, discusses property disposition strategies at the inaugural Quarterly Real Estate Forum, held November 14.

This month I wanted to share some very important information about what the Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center is doing and how it can benefit you.  Enjoy the read and next month, we’ll be back on track highlighting the successes of a business in your community.   


The Hispanic business community is growing and the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce can help. With no-cost business counseling and trainings available, Hispanic-owned businesses and entrepreneurs can create jobs, increase sales and reach their full potential.

“The increased population of Hispanic businesses throughout the state represents a great opportunity to develop and grow a more diverse workforce and business community in Cincinnati,” said Deborah Davis, director of the Minority Business Development Center (MBAC) at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce.

Since 2000, the Hispanic community has grown significantly, with an increase of the Ohio population by 89 percent. According to the most recent report by the Ohio Development Services Agency, more than 16,000 Hispanic-owned businesses operate in Ohio, generating $2.8 billion to Ohio’s economy and employing 23,600 workers. From construction to healthcare professionals, the MBAC can help Hispanic business owners and entrepreneurs get access to the resources they need to develop and grow their business, whether it’s through state, private and local contracting opportunities.

Recently, the State of Ohio spent more money with minority-owned businesses than ever before. Through the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program, the State spent nearly $300 million dollars with certified-MBE companies, 23.63% of the total budget. The State is required by law to spend 15 percent of goods and services with certified minority businesses, including minorities as Hispanic-owned businesses.


“We want more Hispanic-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to participate in the MBE program,” said Davis. “Through partnerships and awareness of our services, we can increase diversity and inclusion of Hispanic-owned businesses that work with the state.”


For more information about opportunities available to Hispanic businesses, visit: www.mbaccincinnati.com or contact MBAC Business Adviser, Carmen Arias at carmen@african-americanchamber.com or 513-751-9900. Spanish translation services available.


For information about our programs, events and services, you can visit: mbaccincinnati.com or you can contact:

Deborah Davis                                                          
Director Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center
513-475-7151
deborah@african-americanchamber.com

Growing our Communities, One Business at a Time


The Minority Business Assistance Center at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce provides no-cost business counseling and workshops to minority-owned businesses.
 

Attending the Real Estate Forum, from left, are Laura Brunner, president & CEO of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority; former Mayor Charlie Luken; Ben Parks, owner of Parks OV Electric, LLC; Eric Kearney, president, CEO of the African American Chamber; and Darin Hall, executive vice president of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority. Photos by Anthony Lowe, A. Lowe Creative Photography

By Deborah Davis,

Director Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center

This month I wanted to share some very important information about what the Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) is doing and how it can benefit you.  Enjoy the read and next month we’ll be back on track highlighting the successes of a business in your community. 

In the last fiscal year, the state of Ohio spent more money with minority-owned businesses and worked with more minority firms than ever before.

The State spent a record-breaking $228.5 million dollars with 325 state certified Minority Business Enterprises (MBE).

The MBE program requires that 15 percent of all state contracts must be spent with state MBE-certified businesses and we want our businesses in Southwestern Ohio to be a part of that. For three decades, this law was not met.

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program with the Department of Transportation has several DBE opportunities.  MBAC is partnering with the Ohio Department of Transportation to support their Disadvantage Business Enterprise program because we want to increase the amount of contracting dollars being awarded to minority and women-owned businesses in Southwestern Ohio.

The Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Procurement Technical Assistant Center are conducting outreach workshops across Southwestern Ohio for small business owners.  These workshops are designed to give an overview of the services offered such as: MBE/EDGE and DBE certifications, federal and state procurement opportunities, financial assistance, business development and one-on-one counseling.

These services are available at no cost to our clients.

If you’re looking to purchase a new building to expand or identify new contract opportunities, we can help.

We can be a great resource to minority-owned businesses looking to grow.

From startup to development, the Cincinnati MBAC is not only connected to seven other MBACs across the state, and covers 13 counties in Southwestern Ohio, but we are also connected to a greater network of Business Assistance Centers under the umbrella of the Ohio Development Services Agency. 

We partner with other state Business Assistance Centers that specialize in manufacturing, technology, capital investment, exporting and federal contract opportunities.

For people looking to secure federal contract opportunities, our partners at the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers can offer one-on-one business counseling to help you navigate requirements, meet government buyers and assist after winning contracts.

These services are all free and at no cost to your business.

You can find more information at: development.ohio.gov.

By connecting your business to the Cincinnati MBAC, you gain access to all the resources we have available in our region.

We partner with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services to help minority-owned businesses become state certified through the Minority Business Enterprise program.

Ohio is strongest when as many Ohioans as possible have the opportunity to share in our state’s economic growth; and this is extremely important for our minority-owned businesses.

By working collaboratively, Ohio is able to break down barriers to make it easier for minority and women-owned businesses to do work with the State.

Last July, ODOT created the Division of Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion and we are hoping to co-host more events in the future.

Our goal is to help minority-owned businesses expand and create jobs in their local communities.

When an Ohio business creates a job, they’re able to give back to their community and contribute to a greater impact of Ohio’s economy. 

For information about our programs, events and services, you can visit mbaccincinnati.com.

 

Contact Information:
Deborah Davis, Director Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center
513-475-7151
deborah@african-americanchamber.com

Growing our Communities, One Business at a Time

Business services available to help grow Hispanic-owned businesses

Fifth Third Bank, NCRC and community partners recently announced plan to invest $30 billion in communities during the next five years. Photo by Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney

Institute for Hospitality Leadership will create larger, diverse work force

Cradle Cincinnati partners transform
Winton Hills Health Center

By Deborah R. Davis, Cincinnati Minority Business Accelerator Director

Business Highlights

Hi Cincinnati! Welcome to Business highlights,

I wanted to share some very important information with you… The Cincinnati Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) is on a mission.  We are collaborating with the Ohio Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), the Ohio Department of Transportation and Make It Plain Consulting LLC to bring business opportunity workshops to 14 out of the 17 counties in Southwestern Ohio.

So why is this important to you? Well, I’m so glad you asked.  Make It Plain Consulting will share information on the Portsmouth Bypass Project highlighting the $429+ millions in contract opportunities.  The Ohio Department of Transportation is going to cover DBE and SBE certifications; and PTAC will walk you through the state procurement process. While Cincinnati MBAC will cover all of the services we offer such as: technical assistance, MBE/EDGE certifications, business planning, capability statements, proposal writing assistance, and much more. 

Hitting 14 of the 17 counties in Southwestern Ohio is a major feat, and we don’t want you to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity.  So join us on the MBAC Commuter Rail, as we travel to Vinton, Clinton, Fayette, Jackson, Lawrence and Scioto Counties all in the month of August!  In September, we’ll be in Highland and Hamilton Counties then stop in Warren and Butler Counties in October.  Oh, in case your keeping count, MBAC, PTAC, and ODOT already stopped in Clermont, Brown, Pike and Ross…whew! What a journey.

We are on the move and want all business owners to grab a seat on the MBAC Commuter Rail and learn how you can help to scale your business.  All of our services are free and open to all entrepreneurs.  So pick a county and show up ready to learn about what MBAC, PTAC, ODOT, and Make It Plain Consulting, LLC can offer your business. 

Check out the schedule below and grab a seat!  See you there.

Hi Cincinnati! Welcome to Business Highlights

African American Chamber Sudduth Society Program

Jerome Napier. Photo provided

Economic Development leaders hold Real Estate Forum

Business Highlights

Fifth Third brings new stars and funds to Greater Cincinnati

By Deborah Davis

Hi Cincinnati! Welcome to Business Highlights!  This month, I would like to introduce you to the Sudduth Society program and four of its participants.  Currently, Sudduth Society has 6 business owners who are attending weekly business classes to enhance their expertise and create strategies to grow their business.

Just a little background on the Sudduth Society:

The Sudduth Society, named after influential Cincinnati African American hotelier Horace Sudduth, is a 90-day business hyper growth program. It helps existing businesses build capacity to become the region’s next set of high-growth, minority-led businesses. A key component of the Sudduth is the African American Chamber’s Procurement Advisory Council. Participants are directly connected with the procurement teams from some of the region’s more prominent firms.  Weekly sessions are led by subject matter experts allowing the entrepreneurs to gain a deeper understanding of their businesses and explore new tactics for growth.  The program ends with a Pitch Day to the Procurement Advisory Council as well as local business and community leaders.  

Sudduth Society focuses on next level companies, that are already generating revenue.  These entrepreneurs are Cincinnati’s next set of business and community leaders which the Sudduth and the many resources of the African American Chamber, SQUARE1 and the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC), are utilizing to fuel their success.

For more information and to become a Sudduth Society participant, please email keith@startatsquare1.com.

To learn more about the services offered by the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC), please contact:

Deborah Davis, MBAC Director
513-791-9900
deborah@african-americanchamber.com


About The Sudduth Society The program is named after Horace Sudduth, a successful Cincinnati African American businessman in the early 1900’s.   A strong supporter of progressive business thinking, Sudduth owned the Manse Hotel, a prominent area hotel known for hosting influential African American visitors such as Sammy Davis Jr. Sudduth also served as president of the Industrial Federal Savings & Loan Association, the National Negro Business League, and the New Orphanage for Colored Children of Cincinnati, among other civic organizations. 

About the African American Chamber, The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce is the largest African American Chambers in the State of Ohio.  We are as committed to inclusion as we are to business development; and as focused on advocacy as we are on building capacity.  We will leverage regional partnerships and collaboration with organizations and supplier diversity and inclusion experts to empower your business to succeed. 

About SQUARE1, SQUARE1, Inc. is an entrepreneurial education and business accelerator services nonprofit providing resources to a broad range of individuals interested in turning ideas and research into business startups.  The mission is to work collaboratively to grow the ecosystem that supports their efforts.  This revolves around educational opportunities and the optimization of resources to better support individuals seeking to improve their personal situations or contribute to the growth of our community through new business creation. 

Deborah Davis. Photo provided

African American Chamber Sudduth Society Program

(Cincinnati, OH – Nov. 17, 2016) The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau has announced the formation of a task force to lead its efforts in creating the Cincinnati USA Institute for Hospitality Leadership.

The Institute will create an education program for students in grades seven through college, preparing them to be career professionals in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Members of the task force include leaders from various fields of the hospitality and tourism sector, as well as educators. They will oversee the creation of the curriculum and its implementation into schools.


“This group represents the best in our business working with educators to create a program that will give students the tools needed for a successful career,” said Dan Lincoln, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are a growing industry and we soon will need a larger, deeper and more diverse pool of talent in our region.”

In Cincinnati, the tourism industry brings nearly $4.5 billion in direct visitor spending and supports 74,000 local jobs. In fact, 1 in 14 jobs in Hamilton County is tourism related.
From 2011-2015, hospitality and tourism grew 12.5 percent.  That is the second fastest growing sector during that time in the state.

“Tourism is a fast growth, big business for our state,” said Melinda Huntley, executive director of the Ohio Tourism Association. “Ohio ranks seventh in the nation in the number of jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry and the members of this task force understand why this initiative is needed.”

Members of the task force range from state and local tourism officials to leaders of hospitality businesses and educators. Jason Dunn, vice president of Multicultural and Community Development for the CVB is leading the task force.


Other members of the task force are:


Jordan Vogel
VP, Talent Initiatives
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber


Matthew Coffey
General Manager
Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza/President Cincinnati Hotel Association Terry Benedict
Chief Administrator
Ohio Tech Prep Southwest Regional Center


Sybil Murphy
VP, Human Resources
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Melinda Huntley
Executive Director
Ohio Tourism Association Bob Bedinghaus
Director, Business Development
Cincinnati Bengals


Fran Santangelo DiBattista
Partner
Santangelo Group, Inc.


Sean Rugless
President
Katalyst Group


Ana Aponte Curtis
Chairman of the Board
National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners


Bleuzette Marshall
Vice President for Equality and Inclusion
University of Cincinnati


Ann Hobing
Senior Director, Business Growth
Cincinnati Museum Center   


Barbara Hauser
Manager, Ohio Community Relations
Proctor & Gamble


Tamiko Mauldin
Employment Specialist
Jack Cincinnati Casino


Rick Pridemore
School Improvement Consultant
Hamilton County ESC


Ric Booth
General Manager
Duke Energy Convention Center


Kelly Broscheid
Compliance Officer, Career Technical Programs
Cincinnati Public Schools


Julie Kirkpatrick
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
meetNKY


Julian Rodgers
Owner
JRODG Productions


Tennel Bryant 
CEO/Founder
Aunty's Homemade Food


Sam Ross
President
Ionic Communications Kathleen


MacQueeney
Owner/Principal Consultant
KR Hospitality Group


Dr. Ty Stone
VP, Business Operations and Enrollment Management
Sinclair College


Constance Cooper
Consultant
Southwest Tech Prep Regional Center, Ohio Department of Education


Debra Way
Professor of Business Management
University of Cincinnati
Clermont College


Dr. Karen Lankisch
Department Chair, Business, Law and Technology Programs
University of Cincinnati Clermont College


Scott Holubetz
Cooperative Education Coordinator
Midwest Culinary Institute Cincinnati State


Dr. Shelley Hamler
Retired Adjunct Professor, University of Cincinnati 
Assistant Superintendent (retired)
Princeton City Schools


Edet Wettee
Owner
PRVLGD Lounge & Bistro


Jim Downton
General Manager
Sharonville Convention Center


Linda Schaffeld
Dean, Business Department
Cincinnati State


Alexis Thomas/Yolanda Sherrer
Office of the President
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center


Margaret Cheatham
Associate Professor/Unit Head
Business & Economics Department
University of Cincinnati
Blue Ash


Ashley Noel
Human Resource Manager
Delaware North


Media Contacts:
Yancy Deering
O: 513.632.5378
M: 513.673.6590
ydeering@cincyusa.com           


Elizabeth Robinson
O: 513.632.5371
M: 319.558.7814
erobinson@cincyusa.com

The good news: the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority -- which operates Metro and Access transit services -- has balanced its 2017 operating budget with no fare increases and no reduction in the overall level of service, although some Metro routes will be changed to increase system efficiency. 


The bad news: SORTA’s budget is not structurally balanced and deficits are projected every year beginning in 2018. 


The total SORTA budget for 2017 is $109.1 million, of which $96.1 million is for operating expenses and just under $13 million for capital expenses like bus replacement.

To balance the budget for 2017, SORTA made a number of non-recurring changes, including a switch to self-funded health insurance and one-time savings.  Capital projects have been deferred.  Four management positions were eliminated in early September.  The belt-tightening included exploring all options for reducing expenses without impacting service.  The budget also assumes full use of the City Transit Fund, except the 10 percent reserve.

SORTA is considering service changes to begin in mid-2017 that will shift under-used service to routes that need more service in an effort to boost ridership and bring in more fare revenue. Plans are being developed to address the projected 2018 deficit, which could include service reductions and fare increases.

SORTA also continues to struggle with replacement of old buses and replacement of basic capital items needed to operate the system.  Of its 357 buses, in 2017 Metro will have 8 buses that are 16 years old and 63 total that are past their 12-year useful life.  Older buses cost much more to maintain and operate, adding to the expense of operating the system.

“We will run to the problem and not kick the can down the road.  Our organization is at a crossroads.  We need more funding not just to address this budget issue, but to grow the system to meet the community’s need for better access to jobs,” said Jason Dunn, chair of the SORTA Board.  “The SORTA board has directed staff to explore the possibility of a levy in 2017.  We’re reaching out to elected officials, community groups and leaders, and the public to get involved in this process. Now, more than ever, we need a long-term plan to provide and fund a sustainable transit system that spurs growth and improves mobility across the region.”


“We can’t relax now that the 2017 budget is balanced.  SORTA’s 2018 budget will be extremely difficult and some hard decisions are ahead in the very near future,” said Dwight A. Ferrell, Metro’s CEO.  “At the same time we are working aggressively to change our system with a new strategic plan and a thorough analysis of how to improve service to the community, our funding is not keeping pace with the rising costs of operating our current transit system.  The old model is broken, both in terms of service delivery and funding.  We need to reinvent Metro.”

City Makes it Easier for Small Businesses to Invest in Cincinnati 

CINCINNATI – Beginning Monday, the City of Cincinnati will offer three unique initiatives geared toward providing more guidance to small business owners interested in investing in Cincinnati. 

These initiatives include a new: 

 Same Day Review process for select developments seeking a permit for alterations. 

 Review by Appointment service for small commercial projects. 

 Courtesy Inspection program giving new business owners a list of items needed to open and operate their business. 

In addition, the Department of Buildings and Inspections (B&I) has hired the City’s first Development Services Facilitator (DSF) to help guide business owners through the City’s permitting process. 

These enhancements will make it easier for business owners and investors to open their doors in less time allowing them to focus valuable resources on what really matters, running a successful business. 

“These efforts are part of our ongoing commitment to make city government more customer friendly and efficient,” said Mayor John Cranley. “Government exists to serve citizens. We need to do all we can to assist our residents and businesses, and eliminate bureaucratic obstacles.” 

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods and we are doing everything in our power to make sure they have everything they need to be successful,” added City Manager Harry Black. “These new initiatives are a continuation of our efforts to allow new business owners to achieve their dreams as quickly and seamlessly as possible.” 

These moves are an indication of the City’s growing commitment to supporting and encouraging growth in the business community. 

Over the past year, the City has placed extra emphasis on improving the overall efficiency and customer service levels of the City’s permitting operations. These new initiatives build upon recent improvements including implementation of a new fee schedule, reorganizing the permitting process and combining staff from various departments into a centralized Permit Center located downtown. 

About the Initiatives 

To improve service and provide faster review times to those smaller projects, the Permit Center will now offer a Same Day Review service to customers. This service is focused on commercial projects 5,000 square feet or less seeking a permit for an alteration or fire protection system alteration, including change of use and signs. This new review model will allow the applicant to obtain a permit for their project the same day they walk through the door. 

This is a first-come, first- serve program and will be offered from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and will not carry a premium service fee. The Permit Center will also offer a Review by Appointment service for commercial projects between 5,000 – 20,000 square feet and residential projects over 400 square feet. This will be offered by appointment only for projects that meet the criteria and will carry a premium service fee. 

Along with the new permit plan review model, B&I will offer those looking to lease or purchase commercial space for their business the opportunity for an inspection team to walk-through the space before signing a lease or purchase agreement. The Courtesy Inspection program will provide the client a list of items needed in order to open and operate their desired business. By providing this service, business owners have the potential to save time and money up front and allow them to make educated decisions on what space best fits their needs before it is too late. 

Rodney Ringer was hired as the City’s first Development Services Facilitator. His focus is to lead the Courtesy Inspection program, help clients map out what their process will look like from start to finish, provide clients with resources from other partner agencies as well as lead other development programs in an effort to help them in opening their business successfully. 

To schedule an appointment or talk to the Rodney Ringer, Business Development Coordinator, call 513-352-4847 or email at rodney.ringer@cincinnati-oh.gov. 

You can find out more information about these initiatives and the permitting process on the Department of Buildings and Inspections website. 

By Herald Staff


Greg D. Carmichael, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bancorp, and John Taylor, president & CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) made a stunning announcement in November: Fifth Third will invest $30 billion over the next five years in inner city communities in 10 states, including Ohio, to increase homeownership, boost small businesses, and empower consumers. The investment was made after the NCRC and Fifth Third Bank brought together 200 organizations in various cities to give input on community needs, and shape Fifth Third’s long-term strategy. Heading Fifth Third’s new initiative are Brian Lamb, the new chief corporate responsibility and reputation officer, and Byna Elliott, senior vice president and director of community economic development.

NCRC was formed in 1990 by national, regional, and local organizations to develop and harness the collective energies of community reinvestment organizations from across the country to increase the flow of private capital into traditionally underserved communities. NCRC has grown to an association of more than 600 community-based organizations that promote access to basic banking services, including credit and savings, to create and sustain affordable housing, job development and vibrant communities for America's working families.

Brian Lamb

Giving back to the community has been Brian Lamb’s focus for as long as he can remember. Fifth Third’s new Chief Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Officer grew up in Tallahassee, Florida. He says his mom worked in the Department of Corrections and his dad was a school teacher. “He was a teacher and father to many,” Lamb says of his dad who also served as the high school basketball coach, mayor of the Florida city of Midway, a commissioner and member of many boards. “Growing up, I saw what ‘giving back’ looks like,” Lamb added.

After graduating from Florida A & M with a major in accounting, and being a star player on the FAM U basketball team, Lamb went to work in investment banking, specializing in mergers and acquisition. Lamb also studied at the Stonier Graduate Banking School at the University of Pennsylvania. He did not consider working for a traditional commercial bank until a member of Fifth Third’s board and a fellow FAM U alumnus approached him. Lamb joined Fifth Third in 2006 as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay region. Before being named regional president, Lamb served as the head of Business Banking for that market. “Fifth Third is a good fit for me,” Lamb said, explaining that Fifth Third is committed to investing in the communities it serves.

Fifth Third brought Lamb to Cincinnati a few months ago to serve in the newly created role of chief corporate responsibility and reputation officer. He reports to Teresa Tanner, chief administrative officer, and will be accountable for the comprehensive strategic framework of the bank’s civic commitments and reputation management. He will oversee multiple areas, including Community Economic Development, the bank’s Community Development Corporation (CDC), Corporate Communications, Diversity & Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics.

 “We are thrilled to name a leader with Brian’s experience and track record to this newly created and key position at Fifth Third,” Tanner said. “He brings a high degree of personal passion in serving and collaborating with the community. Brian is an outstanding banker who has produced stellar results for both the Bank and the community.”

Greg D. Carmichael, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bancorp, said, “I could not be more pleased to place Brian in this critical role. At a time when industry reputation and community commitment are paramount to our customers and stakeholders, Brian is not only a demonstrated civic leader, but also a model of personal integrity and tireless customer focus. He leads by example every day and has earned the respect of our leadership, our customers and our communities.”

Lamb discussed Fifth Third’s blockbuster announcement in November that the bank is investing $30 billion over five years in the communities it serves.  “I am excited to serve Fifth Third in an entirely new capacity and lead a team dedicated to improving the lives of those in our community,” Lamb said. “The commitment of the Company to its civic and social responsibilities has never been higher, and I am looking forward to delivering strong and positive outcomes for all of our stakeholders.”

The multi-year commitment demonstrates a higher level of focus and energy,” Lamb explains. Key areas that the bank’s investment will cover include mortgage lending, more capital to small businesses, and increased access by entrepreneurs to local banking professionals

Lamb says that the bank’s long-term strategy is being shaped by input from more than 200 community organizations in six cities that the NCRC brought together to identify community demand and needs, especially needs in inner city communities. Lamb emphasized Fifth Third’s commitment to more engagement and transparency.

Lamb has been active in a wide variety of civic activities in Florida. He serves as chair of the University of South Florida and holds board positions on the Tampa Bay Partnership, Enterprise Florida, Florida Council of 100 and Florida Bankers Association. He has been recognized on numerous occasions, including recently receiving an honorary doctoral degree from Bethune-Cookman University. This year, he was named to the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame.

Lamb is excited that he, along with wife Paulette and young daughters, 15-year-old Senai and 2-year-old Ava, are joining the Greater Cincinnati community.

Byna Elliott

Byna Elliott is the newly appointed senior vice president and director of community economic development for Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati. In her new position, she will be supervising the bank’s landmark $30 billion, 10-state, 5-year community development plan that the bank, along with partner National Community Reinvestment Coalition, announced in February 2016.

This long-term, multi-year program that began in January 2016, provides investments in key areas such as mortgage lending, and increased access to capital and technology for small business and entrepreneurs. The Fifth Third initiative includes a significant financial and technical assistance commitment to small businesses, with $5 million available for small business lending and a $10 billion goal of direct lending to minority-owned businesses.

 Fifth Third and NCRC have been working with more than 200 organizations in six cities, including Cincinnati, in shaping Fifth Third’s long term strategy for the program.


“My responsibility is to make sure that every dime of those funds is applied to improving communities where it is being invested, and to ensuring that businesses and residents in those communities have greater access to financial services,’’ Elliott said. “The proof of our success will be in the increase in home ownership, especially in the growth in first-time homebuyers, and in the success of small businesses in those communities.’’

‘This is a historical commitment being made by a large bank, with a 5-year commitment from the top down’’ she said.  “It reflects well on Fifth Third Bank.’’ Elliott is a community reinvestment professional with over 20 years’ experience, including five years’ experience in administering all aspects of consumer compliance programs and Community Reinvestment Act initiatives.        

A graduate of Eastern Michigan University in the late 1980s, Elliott, who has a degree in accounting and finance, immediately became a bank regulator during the banking crisis, overseeing financial institutions.

She started her career in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan, at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in 1993 and moved into the financial services industry in 1998.  She most recently held the position of Senior Vice President, Regional Community and Economic Development Director for North Markets, which includes Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Chicago.

Elliott said she is very passionate in working to provide quality housing for families and closing the educational gap for youth. Her volunteer involvement in Habitat for Humanity in Michigan was statewide.

In her new position, Elliott will be involved in five statewide community stakeholder organizations, as well as a community advisory forums. She will connect with residents through community engagement meetings and through other means to determine the opportunities the bank can provide and the success of the programs.

“The challenge is getting the word out about the opportunities this huge community improvement program offers,’’ says Elliott.  “Community organizations are our true partners in helping organizations and individuals become qualified to participate in the programs.’’

While in Detroit, she was involved in several community organizations, including serving as chair of Greater Works Foundation, and a board member of

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, Habitat for Humanity, Wayne County Development Entity, Woodstock Institute (Chicago), and the Detroit Neighborhood Forum. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Links Inc.        

Elliott is married to Anthony Elliott, who is a teacher and football coach. They have two children, Aaron, 13, and Imani, 17. She continues to be an avid reader, she said.

Carmen Arias. Photo provided

$130,000 makeover encourages moms to seek
prenatal care early and regularly

Cradle Cincinnati, a collaborative focused on reducing infant deaths, recently re-dedicated the Winton Hills Health Center at 5275 Winneste Road with more than 100 volunteers and 15 local businesses contributing to a months-long transformation designed to encourage moms to get more prenatal care.


A partnership between Cradle Cincinnati and ArtWorks, this transformation is the second of its kind in Cincinnati. Projects included 4 custom-made, large-scale digital wall vinyls, 30 works of art created in collaboration with neighborhood families, over 100 gallons of fresh paint, 14 exam rooms with new ceiling tile and signage, updated furniture and a redesigned office for moms and babies.


Forty-four percent of women on Medicaid in Hamilton County do not receive adequate prenatal care, putting them at a higher risk for preterm birth and infant death. Creating a more welcoming environment for care has been shown to increase patient engagement.


“Engaging patients in art-making activities helps to reduce stress,” said Marie Krulewitch-Browne, Director of ArtRx for ArtWorks. “Research shows that installing works of art in healthcare environments not only helps to beautify the space, but it also improves patient and staff morale. By partnering with Cradle Cincinnati, we hoped to improve the healthcare experience for moms in our community.”


The partnership totaled $130,000 in donations and included: LPK Design and RCF Group, KDM P.O.P. Solutions Group, United Maier Signs, Inc., TriVersity Craft Force, Messer Construction, The Nelson Stark Company, B.L. Spille Construction, Inc., Interface, Tepe Landscape and Design Group, Sherwin Williams, SBM Management Services, AJ’s Tree Service, Southern Ohio Door Controls, Planes Moving & Storage and the P&G Fund.

ArtWorks engaged local artist and art therapist, Holly Risch, to lead 4 youth Apprentices in co-creating art with local families in the community. Together, they produced 35 original artworks for the health center.


Winton Hills Health Center is one of three centers run by the WinMed Health Services. WinMed Health Services provides holistic health care to families throughout Cincinnati.


“The staff of the Winton Hills Health Center strives to deliver exceptional care to patients every day,” said Miriam Crenshaw, CEO of WinMed Health Services. “We’re thrilled that our new interiors reflect the care and love that our patients deserve.”


Last September, Cradle Cincinnati transformed Price Hill Health Center run by the Cincinnati Health Department.


“This work is far from over,” said County Commissioner and Cradle Cincinnati Chair Todd Portune. “Every woman in Hamilton County deserves a world class prenatal care experience. And, the amazing nurses, doctors and staff that dedicate their lives to serving women in our community deserve to work in a space that reflects their love. With that in mind, we plan to continue this important work at more centers.”

Fifth Third invests $30 billion in communities

Business development opportunities for minority owned businesses

Deborah Davis. Photo provided

Deborah Davis. Photo provided

On November 14, 2016, about 65 members of the regional African American Chamber joined Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority staff and leadership for the first Quarterly Forum. Developed as a lead-sharing membership benefit, the Quarterly Forum was designed to reveal opportunities for partnership to drive equity and innovation throughout all levels of development – from supplier, to contractor, to owner / investor.


“This is a very important and historic event because it is two economic development organizations in our community sharing information for the benefit of our members and for the benefit of the community,” according to Eric Kearney, who was named President and CEO of the African American Chamber in April 2016.

The meeting was held at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s large learning center, and featured presentations from business line leaders from the Port Authority’s Industrial Revitalization, Neighborhood Revitalization and Public Finance practice groups.

“We want more friends, we want more partners, and we want to demystify what we do and how to work with us,” Laura Brunner, Port Authority President and CEO, said during introductions. She said the timing of the Forum is especially important because the Port Authority has accelerated its pace of predevelopment, site development, renovation and new construction activities, driven by a 7-year strategic initiative to transform the region through the acquisition and repurposing of real estate.

“We can turn information into participation through regular, meaningful conversation,” she said.

Darin Hall, Port Authority Executive Vice President, said the goal of the Quarterly Forum is to be “informative and collaborative.”

“This is an opportunity for African American Chamber members to be on the inside of what is happening in economic development in the County and the City,” Hall said. “So often, you hear that is not the case. We want to be more intentional, providing a space for us all to get to know each other better and do some business.”

“Ultimately we hope this leads to business opportunities,” according to Charlie Luken, Port Authority Board Chair. “As a quasi-governmental public entity, we have an obligation to do this – not only to do the right thing, but with the right people. This will help us move forward on economic development in some of our neighborhoods that have seen struggles over the past couple of decades.”

The presentations were followed by a networking reception. The next Quarterly Forum will be held in March 2017. Registration information will be available in early 2017.

Transit budget balanced next year, deficit looms for 2018