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David Bowie tribute will be the focus of Dinner Labís next CLE event

Last July, Cleveland became the 33rd location in the country for Dinner Lab – a social dining experiment that hosts regular pop-up dinners in unconventional, undisclosed locations as a way for participants to meet new people, try new food and provide feedback to up-and-coming chefs.
 
The first Cleveland Dinner Lab was held at smARTspace in the 78th Street Studios and the group has held 15 subsequent dinners in the 216 since then. The upcoming event on Saturday, Feb. 20, will honor the late iconic musician David Bowie with “Let’s Dance: A Celebration of the Man Who Sold the World.”
 
"For 2016, Dinner Lab is taking a new, more conceptualized approach to our dinners, explains Elise Baros, Dinner Lab’s media relations manager. "So, rather giving members great chefs, we are now, also giving them great chefs and innovative menu concepts."

The Bowie theme seemed like a timely notion. "For the David Bowie tribute dinner, we thought it was a great opportunity to show admiration for such a legend and provide diners with a really cool menu concept, " Baros says.
 
The accompanying cuisine will be made by one of Dinner Lab’s house chefs and centered around Bowie songs. Menu Items include Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), a beet salad; Return of the Thin White Duke, a cauliflower velouté; Berlin Era: salmon and bread dumpling; South London, shepherd’s pie; and Blackstar/The Parting Gift, a dark chocolate pound cake.
 
Dinner Lab recently began offering free memberships in addition to its $125 select memberships. The free memberships grant access to all core events, while select members receive discounted dinner rates, early registration for the events and access to exclusive additional events.
 
Baros says they started the free memberships to make the experience more affordable. “The problem we were finding was that it’s a huge barrier to entry,” she says. “To think about asking people to pay $125 for a membership and then pay for dinner, that’s [a lot of money] before even paying for a product.”
 
Previous Cleveland Dinner Labs have garnered enthusiastic turnouts. “They’ve been received really well,” says Baros. “Cleveland has always had open arms and been very accepting of the concept of Dinner Lab. It’s always really fun to do dinner in Cleveland.”
 
Tickets to Let's Dance are already on sale, $85, or $75 for select members. The price includes the five-course dinner and open bar with themed cocktails and beer. The location will not be revealed until a week before the event.

YWCA tackles racism with Itís Time to Talk forum

On Monday, Feb. 22 the YWCA Greater Cleveland will continue one part of its mission – eliminating racism – at its second annual It's Time to Talk: Forum on Race at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. The point behind the forum is to have an open and frank discussion about race and racism in Cleveland.

“Race is a difficult thing to talk about,” says Heather Steranka-Petit, the YWCA's It’s Time to Talk program director. “We work very hard to create a safe space to talk and be heard and share your thoughts on race and racism.”
 
The luncheon event will include table conversations led by trained facilitators and customized group discussions. “We have 45 to 50 facilitators we have trained here on-site,” says Steranka-Petit. “We have activities to create a sense of safety. It takes time. We’re not asking you when you first walk in the door ‘what’s your perspective on race?’”
 
Part of the conversation will be fueled by the YWCA’s essay contest. Those interested can submit an essay around “Why is an open and honest discussion about race important to you and your community?” Winners will receive a free ticket to It’s Time to Talk. Deadline for entries is this Friday, Feb. 12 at midnight.

Keynote speaker Bernie Moreno, president and CEO of Bernie Moreno Companies, will share his success story in the automotive industry, as well as the challenges he faced along the way as an immigrant from Bogota, Columbia.
 
The work does not end when the event is over, however. Steranka-Petit says it’s her job to follow up with participants after It’s Time to Talk and continue the discussion. “Yes, it’s a big event, but it’s a starting point,” she explains. “This gives people the opportunity to participate.”
 
The idea for It’s Time to Talk came about in 2014 after YWCA Greater Cleveland officials determined they weren't doing enough to foster the organization's mission to eliminate racism. Chief operating officer Sadie Winlock witnessed a similar program in Minneapolis and brought the concept to Cleveland.
 
Last year the event garnered nearly 300 participants despite a snowstorm. This year, Rebecca Calkin, the Cleveland YWCA’s marketing and communications coordinator, says they are hoping to have more than 400 attendees.
 
“We would love people from all walks of life,” Calkin says. “Anyone is welcome.”
 
It’s Time to Talk will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $125 per person or $500 for a group of five and include lunch.

Millennials are flocking to Cleveland, report shows, but city must prepare for the future

Cleveland ranks eighth in the country for population growth among college-educated millennials, a report commissioned by the Cleveland Foundation shows, but officials say the city has to make sure the city continues to make Cleveland an attractive place to this generation going forward.
 
The study, “The Fifth Migration: A Study of Cleveland Millennials,” was done by the Center for Population Dynamics at Cleveland State University and shows that downtown Cleveland saw a 76 percent increase in residents ages 25 to 34 since 2000. The term “fifth migration” refers to the re-urbanization of metro areas.
 
Additionally, the study shows a higher concentration of millennial residents overall in Cleveland, regardless of education. In 2013, 24 percent of Greater Cleveland’s population was comprised of millennials ages 18 to 34, up from 20 percent in 2006. The report notes that Cleveland ranks eighth, tied with Seattle and Miami, for its millennial growth from 2011 to 2013 and for those with advanced degrees.
 
But just because millennials are choosing to settle in Cleveland – 63 percent of the downtown population were millennials in 2012 – does not mean city planners can relax.
 
“This fifth migration, the force of the millennial generation in the United States, is real and powerful,” says Lillian Kuri, program director for arts and urban design at the Cleveland Foundation. “This study makes it clear that we have to start planning. All of the things they’re interested in are different than the fourth migration, or baby boomers. We have to attract them.”
 
Millennials are moving here from places like Brooklyn because of the low cost of living and job opportunities, Kuri says, but officials need to ensure that the opportunities continue.
 
“We need to continue to do that,” she stresses. “There are policy changes we need to think about. This generation finds it easier to work out of the house. We need to not just allow that, but encourage people to start their own home businesses.”
 
Kuri stresses that this is just the beginning of the fifth migration, and Cleveland needs to keep up with the millennial population if it is to continue to attract this generation. “All of the things they are interested in, we have to attract them,” Kuri explains.
 
For instance, this generation demands a variety of transportation options. “Transportation is important,” says Kuri. “Millennials want multiple forms of transportation. They’re okay with having one car and sharing the car. We need to have choices of transportation and be robust in it moving forward.”
 
While the numbers show that well educated millennials are moving to the city, officials need to maintain a diverse population and create an urban environment that attracts all ethnicities, races and education levels. “We have to think about diversity,” she says. “How do we keep millennials here who don’t have college degrees? We have to think about leveraging technology education and creating jobs for these people.”
 
Housing is another factor. Kuri says millennials are marrying later and therefore enjoy the array of rental housing now available downtown and around University Circle. But they may eventually want to buy homes.
 
“How do we create the next generation of products?” Kuri asks. “We don’t think they’re just going to move to the suburbs. Eventually millennials will want to buy [homes].”
 
Kuri cites Lakewood, which has a high millennial population, as an example of a city that’s doing things right -- with a good mix of both rentals and homes for sale.
 
“Lakewood has the highest concentration of millennials, both college and non-college educated,” she explains. “One should understand what’s going on in Lakewood. Their focus on housing there is really interesting.”
 
Kuri stresses that Cleveland has to harness this trend to ensure a prospering city in the future. “The millennial generation is such a large percentage of the population that is emerging as a force in the city,” she says. If we don’t continue this trend we’re not going to see any growth in this region. The question is, who’s going to do it best, who’s going to make it sustainable. If we don’t have good product, they will go to another city.”

Get a history lesson on Cle's lighter side, eat dinner and have a bit of fun at Music Box

Mike Miller has a long history with Cleveland. His grandfather was mayor of the city in the early 30s and is a self-proclaimed story teller.

So it’s only fitting that when coming up with new programming ideas at Music Box Supper Club, the venue’s vice president decided to do a history series on Wednesday nights.
 
But Music Box’s new Cleveland Stories Dinner Parties series, in partnership with Cleveland History Center, isn’t your run-of-the-mill lecture series on general history. It’s designed to be fun and light, at an affordable price.
 
Admission is free and a rotating weekly prix fixe, three course dinner is only $20. “This is an opportunity to have a fun dinner,” Miller says. We wanted to make this outrageously affordable and fun.”
 
The topics are designed to provide behind-the-scenes insight from speakers who know all the gritty details about Cleveland’s landmarks, celebrities and even the city’s pioneers.
 
The first event on Wednesday, Feb. 17 features Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, who will talk about how Cleveland landed the Rock Hall and what goes on when the cameras aren’t rolling in “Backstage Shenanigans at the Induction Ceremony – yes, it is all sex, drugs, and Rock & Roll.”
 
The menu that night will have a psychedelic theme that includes ‘shroom soup, pot roast and a cosmic brownie sundae. “It isn’t going to be real mushroom soup,” Miller jokes in regard to the drug references. The other talks have equally witty titles for the food prepared by chef Dennis Devies. “He knocks people’s socks off,” says Miller.
 
On February 24 Cleveland historian Dan Ruminski will speak on “The Vixens of Millionaires Row,” during which he’ll share stories about Cleveland’s wealthiest founders of the 20s and 30s and the parties their antics. “They used to throw some wild parties,” says Miller. “”There were wild shenanigans.”
 
Three months of lectures have been booked, including journalist Mike Olszewski, who will discuss the final interview with Cleveland celebrity Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson) and other untold tales of Cleveland television, and John Gorman will share stories from his time at WMMS radio in the 1970s.
 
“He’s going to tell some crazy stories,” says Miller of Gorman. “Some speakers will be fun, some educational. They will run the gamut.”
 
Another upcoming talk will feature a Metroparks ranger, who will share how Whiskey Island got its name.
 
Miller, who grew up in Cleveland, moved away for college and a career in Chicago, returned to Cleveland in 2010 after 33 years. He says he wanted to share some of Cleveland’s lighter moments in history and encourage Cleveland pride.
 
“Clevelanders are fiercely proud of being from Cleveland,” he says. “We always have that burning rive thing and losing football teams hanging over us, but there’s a real renaissance going on. The pride is coming back.”

Startup Vikes invites entrepreneurial minds to build a business in one weekend

Entrepreneurs, inventors and startup fans will gather at Cleveland State University’s Fenn Tower Ballroom Friday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 21 to pitch business ideas, build a team, create a business and compete for cash and prizes at Startup Vikes – all in just one weekend.

Now in its third year, Startup Vikes originated out of the CSU Monte Ahuja College of Business’ entrepreneurial program to attract a new generation of entrepreneurs.
 
“More and more [people], especially millennials, are turning down pathways where they don’t want to work for companies,” explains Heather Schlosser, marketing communications manager for CSU’s Ahuja College of Business. “There’s an entrepreneurial spirit that runs through Cleveland so it makes sense to foster that.”

Four of the six companies that were created during last year’s event are currently in various stages of development. Last year’s winners include Studio Stick, a portable music studio for cell phones; Coffee Drop, a pop-up  custom catering business; and  Puppy Match, a concierge pet service.
 
This year's Startup Vikes kicks off on Friday with pitches Schlosser encourages anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit to join the fun. “You can have an idea or not have an idea to participate,” she says. “Some people use it for their resumes.”
 
Participants will then vote for the top ideas before forming teams. The teams will then attend workshops that guide them through building a business – from business modeling and customer development to financial models, legal pointers and pitching to investors.
 
At the end of the weekend, the top three businesses will receive $2,000, $1,000 and $500 cash infusions, respectively, as well as business advising and services from organizations like Flashstarts Labs, the Small Business Development Center at the college and access to the 3D printing lab at the CSU Washkewicz College of Engineering.
 
The community is invited to participate in Startup Vikes. Registration is required. Tickets are $49 for CSU students and $99 for community members. The cost includes all workshops, meals from Friday night through Sunday night, snacks and beverages. 

Flashstarts Labs offers a fast track to starting a business

The technology and software business startup accelerator Flashstarts  will now offer a way for companies in the formulation phase a way to speed up the process.

Starting today, the organization will begin taking applications for Flashstarts Labs – a way for startups to prepare for the accelerator program.

“It’s a formalization of something we’ve been doing for the last couple of years, where we can work with teams before they are accepted in to the accelerator,” explains Flashstarts co-founder and CEO Charles Stack.  “A lot of teams are missing something – skill sets, market validation, strategy, a co-founder – this will help them get into the accelerator program.”
 
The idea behind the Labs is to offer the fastest path between business concept and startup formation. Companies accepted into the three-month program will receive access to more than 40 mentors, consulting, business tools and office space in StartMart, Flashstarts’ 35,000-square-foot entrepreneurial co-working space in the Terminal Tower.
 
Stack explains that in Flashstarts’ three-year history, he has found that a lot of startups need help getting things organized. “We learned that a lot of people and ideas need a high-speed on-ramp,” he says. “Now we have StartMart, so we have a lot of space to bring in Labs. When a good idea bubbles up from the goo, we grab it and put it in the accelerator.”
 
There's room for 50 people in the Labs, and accelerator companies will be chosen from the Labs teams. "I don't know how many we'll pick for the accelerator, but we will pick from these teams,” Stack says. “We will spend a lot of time working with these teams.”
 
Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Selection criteria will include uniqueness, market opportunity, team background, and likelihood of success.

Cleveland Coffee and Dellavedova create a buzz with a new blend

Just in time for Australia Day today, Tuesday, Jan. 26, Cleveland Coffee Company yesterday introduced a new coffee blend in honor of Australian native and Cavs point guard Matthew “Delly” Dellavedova, called G’Day Mate.

Created by Delly himself, the blend is of Sumatra and Peruvian coffees – Sumatra, which borders Australia, and Peruvian, which is known for its velvety texture, create a rich aroma and bold flavor.
 
After going through the chain of command, Cleveland Coffee owner Brendan Walton first invited Delly to come to his roaster back in December, after taking note of the basketball player’s love for coffee during the NBA Playoffs.
 
“It seemed to be his beverage of preference before, and sometimes during, the game,” says Walton. “So I invited him to our warehouse to do coffee roasting 101, which was cool because he’d never seen it done before. He was very interested and asked a lot of questions, so we had him do one of the roasts.”
 
Walton says Delly, who drinks his coffee black, prefers a dark roast with bold flavor. So after tasting a few blends, Walton and Delly developed a suitable flavor profile in G’Day Mate.
 
Walton delivered the new blend to 40 area retailers yesterday. The G’Day Mate blend will be available through the end of June in stores, online and at Walton’s cafe in A.J. Rocco’s, 816 Huron Road.
 
Furthermore, Walton announced that Cleveland Coffee Company will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from G'Day Mate sales to All Faiths Pantry, a non-profit organization in Old Brooklyn that works with the Cleveland Food Bank to deliver groceries to seniors and other people with limited mobility.
 
“I think it will go over well, and Delly was very receptive to that,” says Walton. “[Executive director] John [Visnauskas], he’s a good soul working to help people out. I’m sure it will sell.”
 
The Cavs played their first "Australia Day" game last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves and wore their gold uniforms to honor Australia’s colors, gold and green. The Cavs won, 114-107.

Team Promotions is prepared for business boom with the upcoming Republican National Convention

Team Promotions in Beachwood has been helping businesses promote their names and ideas for 28 years. 

“I would consider ourselves to be a dimensional advertising agency,” says company owner and president Hank Frisch. “We’re helping people promote their companies through products.”
 
From coffee mugs to adult coloring books, Team Promotions has thousands of products to promote a company or event. “We’ve sold steaks and delivered them to people’s addresses,” says Frisch of one of the more outrageous promotions he has done. Other times, Frisch has shaped T-shirts into the shape of a realistic replica his client is promoting.
 
“There are just a million different things – crazy, crazy things – you can do. It’s a matter of creativity.”
 
With the Republican National Convention coming to town in July, Frisch has already gotten inquiries from convention officials. “We’ve done some business as it relates to the Republican National Convention,” he says. “[They’re] interested in the variety of things, some tech products.”
 
As the convention nears, Frisch says he is prepared for the increased business. “We hope to do more,” he says. “We’ve shown our ideas to them and we hope as things get closer we’ll be able to do more for them.”
 
Frisch expects the pace to be hectic, but he’s ready. “There’s a lot going on and it’s interesting to wrap your arms around who’s doing what,” he says. “There’s a lot of opportunity for local businesses. It’s a fast-paced business. We just have to be prepared. We’re ready to be there when they need us.”

Cocktails and classic films help cure the winter blues at the Capitol Theatre

Beginning next Wednesday, Jan. 27th, Gordon Square’s Capitol Theatre will launch its monthly Happy Hour cocktail party – a classic film paired with cocktails and appetizers from local restaurants.

"An evening at our Happy Hour Film Series is a great way to warm up the winter with a drink as you mix and mingle with friends both old and new," says David Huffman, director of marketing for Cleveland Cinemas.
 
The idea came about last fall when theater officials realized they were not using the full potential of the theater’s liquor license. “We were serving beer and wine, but no mixed drinks until last September,” explains Huffman. They tried out the concept with a showing of “Some Like it Hot” last summer during the brunch series. “When we were doing Sunday mornings, a lot of films wouldn’t work with brunch,” Huffman explains
 
So officials then decided to run a recurring cocktail hour series, showing a few contemporary classics. The Happy Hour Kicks off on Wednesday with “Fargo” – a nod, in part, to the Coen Brothers’ upcoming release of “Hail, Caesar!
 
Future showings include “The Sting” in February and “Network” in March.
 
The $10 admission ($8 if you buy in advance) includes one cocktail and complimentary appetizers, catered by local restaurants.  Capitol Theatre’s current cocktail selections include a Moscow mule, whiskey sour, pomegranate gimlet, and a chipotle bloody mary, as well as beer and wine.
 
Cha Spirits and Pizza Kitchen will cater Wednesday’s showing. Toast, which catered the trial run in September, will be at the February event and Luxe will cater the March film.
 
Drinks and appetizers are from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Patrons are welcome to refill their beverages before the showings.
 
The Happy Hour series is in addition to the Capitol’s regular Wednesday happy hours, which offers a $1 discount on drinks from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Valet service makes cruising Lee Road nightlife a snap

The Tavern Company owner Chris Armington and his fellow business owners along Lee Road in Cleveland Heights were tired of hearing their customers complain about how difficult it is to find parking on the weekends.

So they got together to solve the problem and, hopefully, increase their business traffic.

Most of the restauranteurs, bar owners and the Cedar Lee Theatre got together and hired VIP Valet to park customers’ car on Fridays and Saturdays. “It’s a convenience for customers,” says Armington. “Everyone’s biggest complaint is parking, walking, getting tickets.”
 
For $5, patrons can park at any of the four valet stations located in the business district along Lee Road – from Taste and Brennan’s Colony  to Parnell’s Pub. When they are done eating, drinking and catching a movie, they can pick their cars up at any station – regardless of where they dropped it off. Even establishments like Lopez, which has its own lot and valet, are participating.
 
Customers do not have to specify where they are heading to use the service. “They won’t turn anyone away,” says Armington. “The business owners are paying for it [the up-front costs] so people can have fun all evening at the restaurants and bars.”
 
Of course, the convenience also means better traffic for the business owners. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” Armington says, adding that the LED “valet” sign cones VIP uses make the valet stations easily identifiable, “inviting and safe.”
 
The service, which began on Friday, Dec. 18, is slowly catching on, according to Armington, with more people using the service as word spreads. “Every weekend is a little better and better,” he says. “Ideally, we want to make Lee Road a destination where people can go, park and then go anywhere.”

East Tech High School sets the pace in CMSD graduation rate improvements

The State of Ohio last Thursday released the report cards for school districts, as a benchmark as to how the state’s public schools are performing.

While graduation rates in Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) high schools rose to 65.9 percent, up from 64.3 percent and up 14 percentage points since 2011, East Tech High School in particular showed stellar results.

In just one year, the school went from a 46 percent graduation rate to a 72.9 percent rate for the 2013-14 school year, the most recent reporting year. “It’s been a process,” says Paul Hoover, East Tech’s co-principal with Temujin Taylor. “We’ve turned it around using a couple of strategies to build the graduation rate at East Tech.”
 
One of those strategies is moving to an innovative support model with full inclusion, says Hoover, where regular education students and special education students are in the same classrooms. With both a regular teacher and a special education teacher in each classroom, the data proves that all students do better academically.
 
“It benefitted both groups because all the students have the opportunity to work with two teachers,” explains Taylor. “It’s individualized one-on-one learning. You can walk into a classroom and you won’t know the difference between teachers or students.”
 
Furthermore, the school has assigned “near peers” – AmeriCorps volunteers in the City Year program – to every core classroom. These volunteers work with students who are struggling through tutoring, mentorship and after school programs. “It’s a very targeted approach,” says Hoover. “It’s not just this year’s graduation rate. We’re setting it up [for continued success].”
 
Part of that setup is a “no nonsense nurture” approach, explains Taylor, which entails incentives and merits for good performance. Students can earn monetary “Scarab Bucks” (the school’s mascot) based on academics, attendance and behavior. The bucks can then be used at the school store. This year, students can even use their rewards to buy homecoming and prom tickets
 
“We’ve seen decreases in the number of discipline incidents we’ve had happen in the building,” says Taylor. This is to get back on track.”
 
Being a CMSD investment school under the Cleveland Plan, Taylor and Hoover say efforts are paying off. “Prior to the Cleveland Plan, everyone got the same resources,” says Hoover. “The Cleveland Plan has given us the flexibility we needed to align the right support with what our students needed.”
 
Hoover says the jump in graduation rates is just the beginning of good things to come for East Tech students. “This is not a blip, it’s significantly impressive with what’s going on here,” says Hoover. “It’s a good plan, but we have a really fantastic team here. All these people really worked hard.”
 
The current numbers indicate that this year’s seniors should show a 72 to 73 percent graduation rate, says Hoover, while the upcoming senior class is on track to exceed 80 percent.

Pieces of rust belt history come to life at Heights Arts' Remade in Cleveland show

Local artisans who upcycle industrial materials from the rust belt into imaginative, yet functional household objects will be kick off the 2016 Heights Arts season with the gallery’s “Remade in Cleveland” exhibit.
 
The work of Doug Meyer’s Rustbelt RebirthKevin Busta, and designers with Rustbelt Reclamation will be showcased in an exhibit that features everything from furniture to accessories using repurposed materials dating back to 100 years ago in Cleveland’s history.
 
The artists use locally sourced wood and metal to create items such as custom tables, seating, lighting, mirrors, wall features, and tabletop objects such as clocks, serving boards and wine caddies.
 
“Cleveland is in its second cycle,” says Greg Donley, head of the gallery committee, founding Heights Arts board member and assistant director of creative services of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “One hundred years ago it was in its first boom. All of these things used to build Cleveland are seeing second lives.”

Meyer fell in love with ceramics while in high school, but instead turned to welding through a Job Corps program. He led the metal fab shop at furniture maker Cleveland Art before starting Rustbelt Rebirth in 2009.
 
“Things that get my creative mojo going: Science fiction movies, surrealist landscapes, googie architecture, electronic music, art deco and mid-century modern design, the streamlining movement, quantum physics, and mysticism,” Meyer says of his inspiration.
 
Meyer says he is glad Heights Arts is exploring the  upcycle trend with Remade in Cleveland. “I'm glad to see that the movement is gaining traction and champions,” he says. “It's forced us all to look at things in a different light in terms of quality, design, and creative re-interpretation.” 

Donley defines Meyer’s work as combining raw materials with bent metal. “Meyer simultaneously uses mid-20th Century modern design in a combination of raw materials,” he says.

Busta creates items like lamps made of industrial cast iron fixtures, while Rustbelt Reclamation takes mahogany molds used to make cast iron fixtures and turning them into art.
 
“Cleveland has a long history of making objects with function and design,” says Donley. “Almost everything in [the show] is stuff you live with – chairs, tables you can eat on.”
 
The show opens on Friday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. and runs through Saturday, Feb. 27. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
 
On Thursday, Feb.11 at 7 p.m., an  artist talk and ekphrastic poetry event will be held, during which the artists will share their inspirations and challenges from working with salvaged and repurposed materials, while local poets Terre Maher, Mary Quade, Barbara Sabol and Barry Zucker will respond with original verse inspired by select objects in the exhibition. 

Casey Foundation grant will help young adults develop skills, find meaningful jobs

Towards Employment, the non-profit organization that helps low-income people find jobs through training and job readiness programs, recently announced that Cleveland is one of five cities to receive part of $6 million in grants over a four year period from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The focus will be on helping young adults, age 18 to 29, develop employable skills, build careers and find jobs.

Towards Employment is the lead organization in a collaborative effort on the jobs front. Other organizations include Cuyahoga County; the local OhioMeansJobs and the local Fund for Our Economic Future. The program, which is just in the planning stages now, will be called Generation Work and will be a part of the pilot program TalentNEO
 
“In this planning stage, the collaborative will be working with many partners - providers, funders and employers - to help young adults find more opportunities to prepare for the workforce and find jobs,” explains Towards Employment executive director Jill Rizika. “There is high need in the community because the unemployment rate [among youth] is higher. We will work with employers to work with what young adults have to bring.”
 
Best practices that serve young adults’ needs, like mentoring, internships and access to on-the-job training, will be promoted, says Rizika, especially in industries that show demand for qualified employees. The collaborative will work together to help create more comprehensive programming in the community.
 
“Our collaborative will look at best practices and encourage broad application of them throughout the community,” Rizika says. “No one agency or system can deliver all of the aspects of the comprehensive model by itself  - something that for the young adult job seeker and the employer seems seamless.”
 
Towards Employment will receive $100,000 in the first, year, and the grant will increase by another $100,000 for three subsequent years. After the fourth year, the Casey Foundation will assess whether to renew the grant for another four years.
 
The other cities receiving part of the Casey Foundation grant are Hartford, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Seattle.

For more information, on yong adult job training, contact the Youth Resource Center. For more information on Generation Work, contact Rizika.

Mercury Biomed receives Third Frontier funding for its warming technology

Maintaining a patient’s body temperature during and after surgery to prevent hypothermia and infections has long been a challenge in the medical community. Traditionally, medical providers have used Forced Air Warming (FAW) devices to warm a patient, but these devices often fall short.
 
“Current FAW devices, the standard of care, fail to meet the clinical goal of maintaining normal body temperature during surgery in over half of all procedures,” says Brian Patrick, co-founder and vice president of Mercury Biomed. Furthermore, he says the cumbersome and intrusive systems are wasteful and can make the operating room uncomfortable.
 
“There are a growing number of clinicians that question the safety and effectiveness of the current standard of care in perioperative patient warming,” says Patrick. “And that’s why we believe it’s an important problem to solve.”
 
So Patrick and his team have come up with a better way to warm a patient throughout the surgical process. Their better idea earned Mercury Biomed $1.4 million in Ohio Third Frontier funding.

Mercury Biomed’s WarmSmart uses thermal regulation technology to raise core body temperature faster and safely. The technology stimulates the body’s natural thermostat to increase blood flow on-demand -- using blood flow as a short-circuit heat transfer pathway to the body core.  
 
The WarmSmart technology was developed by Kenneth Diller, founding chair of the biomedical engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin. Diller is an expert on bio-heat transfer and the physiological processes that govern temperature regulation.
 
Patrick teamed with Diller in 2010 to form CoolCore to develop and test the technology before partnering with Innovative Medical Equipment in 2015 to form Mercury Biomed in Cleveland.
 
In December Ohio Third Frontier’s Commercialization Acceleration Loan Fund awarded Mercury Biomed a $1.4 million loan to bring its Smart Temperature Management System technology to market.
 
The money will be used to fund the company’s clinical trials, which are currently underway, obtain FDA clearance and refine and build commercial devices using the technology.
 
“We aim to use the state’s award to create high-tech jobs in Northeast Ohio, hire local consultants and commercialization partners, and to bring more prosperity and recognition to the state and the region,” says Patrick.
 
The clinical trials are scheduled to be completed early this year, with the WarmSmart technology due to hit the market later this year. Mercury Biomed is currently working on other applications using the technology, with SmartCool due to begin clinical trials soon and hit the market by 2018.

Restauranteur Zack Bruell dedicates entire month to affordable dining at his restaurants

The holidays are over, and most Clevelanders typically hole-up for the rest of winter while anticipating spring weather.
 
But for the past five years, restauranteur Zack Bruell has held his own Restaurant Week – a three course meal for $33 -- at his area restaurants to drum up business in the slow periods and introduce diners to his menus. 

“Historically, business-wise, this time of year people aren’t going out as much,” Bruell explains. “I’m just experimenting, knowing full-well that in January and February we don’t have anything to lose.”
 
The practice has proven so popular, this year Bruell is hosting a full month of prix fixe menus at each of his six upscale restaurants -- ParallaxTable 45L’AlbatrosChinatoCowell & Hubbard and Alley Cat Oyster Bar – for $33 per person, plus tax and gratuity. The special runs from Monday, Jan. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 7.
 
The budget price does not mean lack of choices or skimpy portions, Bruell promises. “Each restaurant will have a distinct menu of options with three choices in appetizers, entrees and desserts,” he says. “It went so well in the past, I wanted to see if we can continue this.”
 
For instance, at L’Abatros in University Circle, diners can choose from soup du jour, winter salad or ricotta gnudi for an appetizer; market fish, chicken roulade or vegan Himalayan red rice for an entrée, each with accompanying vegetable; and warm brownies with dried cherries and ice cream, crème brulee or apple cake for desert.
 
“We’re trying to do stuff that isn’t necessarily on our menu and we’re giving people a choice,” says Bruell. “We try to be user-friendly. As far as I’m concerned, this is about making friends.”
 
While the prices may lure people to Bruell’s restaurants, he argues the specials also show that fine dining can be affordable. “It’s not just a promotion to drive people through the door, it’s a promotion to introduce people to our restaurants,” he says, adding that his establishments also host year-round half-price food and wine specials.
 
“This is similar to that, but it’s a full meal and we’re not skimpy on our portion sizes or any of the ingredients. It’s the same experience, it’s an opportunity to expose people who may not otherwise come into the restaurant.”
 
The prix fixe menus should be listed on each of the restaurants’ websites soon.
 
Bruell’s restaurants also participate in other Restaurant Weeks throughout the year, such as the ones sponsored by Downtown Cleveland Alliance and Cleveland Independents, which include a variety of area restaurants. 
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