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Nationally Recognized Minority-Focused Startup Accelerator Coming to Akron


Five community institutions partner to bring MORTAR to Bounce Innovation Hub

MORTAR was founded in 2014 in Cincinnati and is a 15-week program that helps both existing and aspiring entrepreneurs learn the fundamental elements of business ownership and build a comprehensive business canvas. A primary goal of the program is to launch businesses that contribute to local economic development and establish a path to generational sustainability and wealth. It has been credited by Essence Magazine with helping Cincinnati become the fastest-growing economic power in the Midwest for minority small business owners.

"It is incredibly important that entrepreneurs who haven't seen themselves represented in the entrepreneurial landscape receive access to the tools and resources that their business counterparts have been given for years,” said William Thomas, co-founder of MORTAR. “MORTAR was founded and exists to provide that access and support, and we are thrilled to join the community of Akron." 

Applications open February 3, and the program starts in early April (bouncehub.org/apply-to-mortar). The cost is $295 for the entire 15 weeks with an 18-month alumni program to follow. Payment plans are available if participants are unable to pay the entire balance at once. The program will be headquartered at and facilitated by the Bounce staff, led by Ace Epps, director of inclusive entrepreneurship. The official name is MORTAR at Bounce, and it is the second track of Bounce’s GROW program. 

“I have been helping individuals grow their businesses in Akron for over 10 years. As a business counselor and facilitator of several entrepreneurial classes, I think it's a monumental time in Akron for small business owners,” said Epps. “For these important local organizations to come together to provide support and assistance to our minority population is an amazing opportunity.”

The MORTAR program found success by focusing on entrepreneurs who are often ignored, and the new program in Akron will strive for the same focus. By targeting underserved and redeveloping communities, the team will be able to offer non-traditional or historically marginalized entrepreneurs the opportunity to use their talents to not just make a dollar, but to positively participate in the rise of Northeast Ohio.

“From the beginning, I have envisioned and positioned Bounce to be a dynamic hub of activity serving entrepreneurs and innovators of all kinds,” said City of Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “This partnership with MORTAR will continue to grow Akron’s support for non-tech and neighborhood businesses, and will engage and elevate some of our community’s most dynamic and promising entrepreneurs.” 

In the spring of 2019, Bounce started looking for ways to expand programs and services beyond tech companies to also support non-tech entrepreneurs and small businesses, such as retail or home healthcare companies. At that same time, inspired by the findings of the Elevate Greater Akron plan, a number of other stakeholders were also looking at programs designed to support minority-owned startups and small businesses, which are under-represented in Greater Akron’s economy. MORTAR emerged as a proven model with strong outcomes. 

“MORTAR at Bounce catalyzes startup activity among Akron’s black population which is a great complement to our ongoing work through the Opportunity Akron economic inclusion initiative,” said Robert DeJournett, VP of Opportunity and Inclusion at the Greater Akron Chamber. “Thus, positioning the region for growth and prosperity.” 

Akron-based GAR Foundation has also come forward with enthusiastic support. “This program gives overdue attention to our community’s minority-owned startups and small businesses, said Christine Mayer, president of GAR Foundation. “MORTAR at Bounce will help strengthen the efforts of entrepreneurs who are more reflective of Akron’s population.”

The initiative is in service to the community’s collaborative spirit and with a vision for a city fueled by diverse entrepreneurs, spurred on by the Elevate Greater Akron initiative.

“Successful entrepreneurial ecosystems are built upon the collaborative interactions between entrepreneurship support organizations, philanthropy, government and others. Ecosystems that boast strong collaboration and trust are more cohesive, adept at meeting the needs of entrepreneurs, and capable of realizing their potential as drivers of innovative ideas and inclusivity,” noted Deborah Hoover, president and CEO of Burton D. Morgan Foundation and board chair of Bounce. “Collective efforts in the Greater Akron area are bearing fruit; Akron is a place where entrepreneurs can grow their ventures. MORTAR at Bounce will build upon the spirit of collaboration already present so that we can all work more intentionally to serve historically underserved entrepreneurs in the non-tech space.”
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Northeast Ohio wins Build Back Better Regional Challenge Phase 1 Grant


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 industry-led coalition will compete for up to $75 million to supercharge regional economy.

Chamber Announces Tia Ramlow as Incoming Board Chair


Today the Greater Akron Chamber announced Tia Ramlow as its incoming Board Chair. Steve Millard, President of the Chamber is excited to have Ramlow in this leadership role, citing her experience, vision and commitment to success as the perfect combination of attributes for all of the critical initiatives the Chamber is driving regionally.

Greater Akron Economic Development Partners Launch COVID-19 Resource Guide for Employers and Employees


On Friday, March 20, Greater Akron’s economic development ecosystem partners launched a one-stop regional guide to assist impacted employers and employees in the navigation of information, guidance and resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its corresponding economic implications. The City of Akron, County of Summit and Greater Akron Chamber, in partnership with a large number of organizations aligned with our Elevate Greater Akron initiative, are working closely together, coordinating resources and focusing efforts to ensure businesses and the people they employ have the access to timely, accurate information through an easily navigable website, gaccovid19.org.

Effort to Increase City’s Economic Inclusion Needs Your Help


Mayor Dan Horrigan’s State of the City address underlined the need for all of us to recognize the value of driving shared prosperity in our region. At the Greater Akron Chamber we have been working closely with Mayor Horrigan, County Executive Ilene Shapiro and dozens of leaders within the philanthropic, business and non-profit ecosystem through our shared Elevate Greater Akron economic development strategy that includes driving action and measurable progress on economic inclusion.

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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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