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Northeast Ohio wins Build Back Better Regional Challenge Phase 1 Grant

Akron, OH – The U.S. Economic Development Agency selected an Industry-led effort as one of 60 national finalists, and the only in Ohio, for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) grant. The coalition represents a regional effort by the Greater Akron Chamber, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Stark Development Board, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Team NEO, and others with MAGNET filling a central role in the effort. The coalition’s proposal outlines ways to fortify supply chain resilience through the growth of smart manufacturing and polymer materials and a sharp eye toward equitable outcomes. The phase 1 grant will support further planning of projects across Northeast Ohio, including entrepreneur and commercialization support, workforce development, and a pilot facility to innovate and test new polymer materials.
The Greater Akron Chamber has worked diligently throughout 2021, with a number of partners, to advance a polymer industry cluster for NEO, centered in Greater Akron. In this effort, we have convened industry leaders to identify shared challenges, design potential solutions, and pursue catalytic funding to implement some of those solutions.  This includes the regional collaboration we formed with MAGNET and other partners in designing a proposal for the US Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which was submitted on October 19th on behalf of Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing sector and polymer industry. 
“From the legacy of manufacturing to the reality of a deep ecosystem of distribution, thought leadership and advanced applications, our work with polymers seeks to drive a new wave of innovation, research and product leadership for Northeast Ohio, centered right here in Greater Akron,” shared Steve Millard, President and CEO, Greater Akron Chamber.  “We have world class polymer manufacturers in this region to build on and innovate with as well as one of the country’s top research universities with a focus on polymer science at the University of Akron.  We are well positioned to develop global solutions and innovative applications right here in Northeast Ohio.”
Yesterday morning, we learned that our proposal has been selected as a finalist in the program – one of 60 out of 529 submissions.  Advancing to the finalist round comes with a $500,000 grant for technical assistance to further develop the overall proposal, and we’ll be working hard with our partner organizations to complete the next round of submissions due in March 2022.  If all goes well, then we may be awarded up to $75 million next September.  A short description and 5-page narrative of the NEO proposal can be found here.
Equity and inclusion is an important focus of the EDA as a part of the criteria for selecting potential recipients.  The collaboration engaged a number of organizations with focus and expertise, like the Akron Urban League, to ensure that workforce and talent, entrepreneurship and investment initiatives within the proposal are grounded in equity and inclusion.  “The Akron Urban League is excited to be a part of this monumental collaborative effort in Northeast Ohio.  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is an imperative for the manufacturing and polymer industries. As we work collectively to foster an inclusive environment, recruit and retain diverse talent, and upskill our workforce for the future, it is critical to understand that we cannot have a robust talent strategy without a robust DEI strategy. During the planning phase, we have the opportunity to ensure equity is intentionally threaded into every facet of the proposal with the goal of addressing issues of social and racial inequities and create sustainable upward mobility,” said Teresa R. LeGrair, President & CEO, Akron Urban League.
This is a broad regional effort spanning many ecosystem partners.  Within Greater Akron, this work is grounded in the collaboration formed around the feasibility of a polymer industry cluster.  Led by our Senior Director of Research and an industry veteran we’ve engaged as lead consultant, that work was formed through a collaboration with the University of Akron, Team NEO, the County of Summit, City of Akron and the GAR Foundation.  That led to the creation of a Polymer Industry Advisory Council which has helped us further develop the ideas.  It positioned us well for the proposal submitted in collaboration with a broad number of ecosystem partners and led by MAGNET. 
“When we look at the assets already present in Northeast Ohio – R&D, infrastructure, natural assets, talent pools, entrepreneurship and capitalization – we simply need to put it all together to propel massive growth and we believe this grant can help us do just that,” said Ethan Karp, PhD, President and CEO of MAGNET. “This planning grant will help us prepare for the second phase of BBBRC which could mean up to $75 million in support for these projects which will boost our regional economy.”
With many partners involved in this work and with over 125 letters of support for the proposal, this was truly a regional effort that has great promise for NEO and Greater Akron.  We believe that the collaborative environment in which we have all decided to invest and operate in is a big part of how we made it to the finalist stage of this program that’s designed to strengthen regional clusters. We look forward to keeping our stakeholders apprised and engaged in this work as we move forward, and appreciate their continued support. 
“We are pleased that the EDA recognized the important role Northeast Ohio can play by strengthening and building greater resilience in our nation’s supply chains,” said William Koehler, CEO, Team NEO. “This planning grant is a unique opportunity to further highlight ways Northeast Ohio businesses, public sector leaders, philanthropy, and economic development organizations can make lasting impact on our regional, state, and national economy.”
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Leveraging FirstNet for Medical Communications Webinar: Three Ohio healthcare agencies share experiences on COVID-19 response


Join my public safety colleagues and I on February 4, 2021 for a webinar focused on how FirstNet users are utilizing wireless communications to meet the mobile healthcare challenges of today. In this webinar we will discuss:

  • How Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, OH) is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution
  • Learn how Kettering Health Network is utilizing wireless communications at mobile testing sites to provide patient test results faster
  • Hear from the OH EMS Chiefs Association President on EMS response in rural Ohio
Register now so you don’t miss out on these important topics and the opportunity to provide feedback.
Speakers include:
  • Adam Griffith, Cuyahoga County Emergency Management Agency
  • Chris Kyer, Kettering Health Network
  • Robert Jacks, Meigs County EMS, OH EMS Chiefs Association President
This webinar is intended for public safety and other government personnel and will be recorded.

G.R.I.T. Fourth Quarter First Aid


Growing Resilient Impactful Teams presents Fourth Quarter First Aid, a workshop with life-saving tools for you and your team. It can happen at work: heart attack, stroke, and other crisis conditions. Learn the common warning signs, how to respond and simple ways to keep your employees healthy and safe. Resource packets will be mailed to all attendees after the event.

Virtual Happy Hour for Young Professionals


Casual happy hour presentation for young professional advisors in Greater Akron. It's a fun opportunity to connect with local colleagues while learning how Akron Community Foundation can equip you to accomplish your clients' goals through philanthropy.


Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 4-5 p.m.


Virtual platform – details will be provided upon registration


Wear your favorite concert T-shirt and BYOB!


Matt Hochstetler, David J. Simmons & Associates Michael McLelland, PNC Institutional Asset Management Brittany Baranowski, CBIZ
Mike Grater, Highland Consulting Associates
Alex Rupert, Sequoia Financial Group
Laura Fink, Akron Community Foundation

Laura Fink | 330-436-5611 | [email protected]

Registration is free. Reserve your spot by Sept. 11 at www.akroncf.org/YPAC.

U of A CBA Business Analytics Innovation Summit


There is no doubt that the Business Analytics (BA) revolution (or hype?) continues at a blistering pace, with machine learning algorithms now taking their place as the "magical" technology of the day. While the initial fears about knowledge worker replacement have abated, many are wondering just how well their decisions can be "augmented" by their pal, the algorithm. And companies are amassing huge lakes of unanalyzed data just in case there are some gems amidst the dross.

Back in the trenches, business must do what they have always done: identify the right problem, gather the right data, perform the right analysis, and make the right decision.

The focus of this year’s Business Analytics Innovation Summit will be on decision–making. How has the use of Business Analytics (BA) changed the way your firm goes about deciding what to do? Specifically:

  • How do you decide what data, and how much data to collect? How long do you keep it, and in what format? What surprising things have you learned about data management in the past few years?
  • How do you prioritize what problems to try to solve using BA? Have you created new governance mechanisms? What makes the BA era different? Is BA just another element in your IT portfolio, or is it managed separately?
  • How do you choose which analyses to do? And how do you ensure that the decisions these analyses recommend are actually carried out in practice? How do you evaluate the risks that come with offloading a certain portion of the decision to a machine?

Emerging Mental Health Issues in the Workplace


Hosted by Portage County Society for Human Resource Management, Summa Health and The NEW Center Emerging Mental Health Issues in the Workplace Join this virtual event discussing emerging mental health issues and concepts in the workplace. The panel of experts will give their insights during a brief presentation followed by an extensive Q&A session where attendees are encouraged to participate! Presenters: Employment Law Attorney Counseling Psychologist Psychiatrist EAP Counselor Occupational Health Physician Cost: $15 When: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 Time: NOON - 1:30 p.m. Where: Zoom link and log in information will be sent prior to the event to registered attendees *Earn 1.5 SHRM Hours for participating Register: https://pchra.shrm.org/forms/september-23rd-emerging-mental-health-issues-workplace

AAF Movie Trivia Night


July 15 | 5:30pm - 6:30pm Zoom Hosted by National CineMedia Topic: 80’s-Disney-Actors/Roles-Marvel-Sports Free to participate. Each player will have their own pen/paper to write down the answers to the questions shown on the screen (and read by the host for those with video issues). At the end of the game, host will reveal the correct answers. It is based on the honor system as to how many each player got correct. Prizes will be mailed to the winners! Limited to the first 25 participants. Registration https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIudu-gqz8jEtXC8cuq6-kGeZ0mLHFS4svq

The CoLounge Tours


Stop in and check out all the amenities that the CoLounge offers. Monday, June 22nd 4-7pm Wednesday, June 24th 10-1pm Friday, June 26th 10-1pm SPECIAL FOUNDERS RATES are now available via www.thecolounge.com. Inquire online and come next week to lock them in!

Kristen Birkbeck
[email protected]com

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