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A local graphic designer is working one-on-one with customers to create custom apparel they love for any occasion.

The focus at Mount Apparel is the customer. “I work with individuals and small businesses to create custom apparel for any occasion,” says Founder Paul Homan. 

The sole employee of Mount Apparel, Homan wanted to provide customers the ability to create merchandise whether they approach him with a polished logo or a vision in their head of what they want to see.

“I work one-on-one with the custom, design their graphic, and lay it out on apparel for purchase,” he explains. “The process is ultimately aimed toward people who want to create custom apparel without having to buy in bulk or pay crazy expensive fees for a one-off order.”

The inspiration for creating a customized apparel business comes from Homan’s passion for sharing his creativity with others. 

“My goal is to use my skill set to fill the gap for custom merchandise for individuals and small businesses,” he says. “Connecting with people and giving them an opportunity to explore and create one-of-a-kind merchandise has been such a great experience.”

Homan’s background provides him with the skills he needs to run Mount Apparel. He works full-time as a product development engineer and operates Mount on the side as a self-proclaimed graphic designer.

Homan says that one of the best selling items from Mount Apparel are the custom vector illustrations of pets.

“The process works like this,” he says. “You send in a picture of your pet, I create a custom illustration of your furry friend, then send you a link for purchase of your pet illustration on merch. It’s that easy.”

Homan says that what makes Mount Apparel unique is its approach to one-on-one customer service, as well as his streamlined purchasing through Amazon.

“My platform is based through Amazon,” he says. “This makes the purchasing process super easy. Once we finalize your design, the product is then available for purchase through Amazon just like you would buy anything else (even Prime shipping).”

Additionally, organizations can find ease in ordering Mount Apparel products through Amazon with a link. “Rather than tracking down sizes, collecting money, ordering in bulk, and making sure everyone gets their apparel once it arrives, the gym owner would simply send out the Amazon link to interested members,” he says. “Mount’s process simplifies the process dramatically.”

The goal for 2021 at Mount Apparel is to work with more small businesses in the Cincinnati area. “Currently our clients are mostly individuals and a couple of places in Mount Adams,” he says. “We are looking to expand our reach and help our more local businesses create their own merchandise. If you are interested or know someone who could be, we would love to talk!”

To learn more about Mount Apparel, visit their website. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

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See how this locally-based Ennegram and quantum energy coach helps you understand your motivations and wiring to truly feel alive - in business, relationships, leadership, and more.

Whitney Ellison, Founder of Wellison Enterprises

We’re all searching for our purpose in this world. But sometimes, we have a tendency to make that search a little more complicated than it needs to be. 

To help us find our “why,” is Whitney Ellison, the founder behind Wellison Enterprises. 

“Wellison Enterprises is the business home to the two-step Wellison Method: 1. Enneagram type development work and 2. Quantum Energy coaching,” she says. “This method is for people who are ready to dismantle their subconscious defense mechanisms and move beyond societal constructs to rediscover what makes them feel alive – in business, relationships, leadership, and/or life.”

Through her business, Ellison hopes to convey her philosophy and message to the world: People overcomplicate the idea of “purpose.” Everyone’s purpose is the same. Our collective purpose on the earthly plane is to experience life. It is what makes us feel alive that is unique to each of us. 

Ellison believes that when people do what makes them feel alive, that is when they full step into their purpose. “This experience of purposeful flow has been called spiritual, holy, religious, divine, The Universe, God, the holy spirit,” she says. “Whatever you name it, it means we are mindfully and presently living and acting from a space of love and abundance. Being loved and worthy is our birthright. We tend to forget this as we move out of infancy and learn to survive in this world – or as I like to say, ‘as the world gets to us.’”

At Wellison Enterprises, you’ll find a focus on their two-prong method called the Wellison Method.

“First, we work on rediscovering the person we were before the world got to us (usually a pivotal moment that happened somewhere in childhood),” she explains. “I use the Enneagram as a tool to do this work. I am an avid proponent of doing Enneagram work without being typed by a test. The Enneagram is a tool based on motivation, not behavior. This is not something easily diagnosed and assigned by a test. This day and age, we all have the expectation to get answers quickly. When we do divine soul work, we need to exercise patience, grace and the ability to dig in and really learn about ourselves and a tool that can be incredibly life changing. It can also be incredibly ineffective when a person is mistyped – which tests often do (being on average about 54% accurate – and yes, I am even talking about the good ones that you pay for – I have coached many people typed by that test who were mistyped too).”

After discovering a client’s Ennegram type, recognizing and dismantling the defense mechanisms associated with it, becoming more self-aware, and opening the repressed child-like energy, Ellison begins part two: the energy work.

With coaching certification in the 7 Universal Laws of vibrational energy, Ellison can work on the vibrational energy that we give off. “We continuously put off a vibrational frequency – not unlike sound waves,” she says. “ This frequency includes even our thoughts and words – hence the word ‘quantum’ – the idea that these vibrations are so tiny we do not even realize they exist.”

Ellison says that when we match our emotions with our thoughts, we begin to manifest. “Mywork in the second prong of the Wellison Method is to help people start consciously understanding their emotions and matching them with their thoughts and desired outcomes to engage in fully living the lives of their dreams,” she adds. 

Wellison Enterprises offers workshops for other to participate in:

The Introductory Enneagram workshop is a 2.5-hour workshop to help people understand the tool, each type, and basic elements that will give them a basic level of fluency in understanding and talking about the Enneagram. Some people leave knowing their types, others continue to do the work to really hone in on what their type is. The objective is to make sure everyone understands each type (because empathy for others is just as important as self-awareness) and is on a solid journey of discovering the Enneagram type they lead with. 

“I am doing an upcoming 7 Universal Law weekly series of virtual workshops with the WISe Wellness Guild, starting 1/7/21 and running through 2/18/21, where we will gather Thursday evenings at 7pm. Each 45 minute-1-hour workshop will be an introduction to one of the 7 Universal Laws, and then we will do an exercise to learn how to open our minds to the energy work associated with that law,” Ellison says. “Exercises include meditations, writing, list making, dialog, breakouts and more. It is going to be so much fun! Limited seats are available.”

Wellison Enterprises offers private events and is collaborating with Maggie Gough of Relize WellBeing to do a 6-month virtual retreat and round table program for 10-12 Executive Women. “This program will be called the Infinity Squad,” she says. “We will provide a restorative path for wellbeing, utilizing the Ennegram, the power of a squad, and transformation of personal growth into influential leadership.” 

Ellison says that what makes her business unique is that she’s combined Ennegram coaching and Universal Law coaching into one. “When I do Enneagram work – people always ask me – ‘what’s next?’ and the great thing is, I have an answer for that,” she says. “In addition, my credentials go beyond coaching – I have excellent training in working with clients of all walks of life and backgrounds because of my success in both corporate sales, as a practicing attorney, and through clinical and human rights fellowship work in law school. Finally, I realize my work and I are not for everyone, and I am completely at peace with this. I know that whomever my work is meant for will find their way to me and it will change their lives.”

Wellison says that she’s looking forward to launching pre-recorded workshops for Ennegram and Universal Law Energy basics for people who want to do the work on their own time. 

Additionally, she will be launching a second Instagram Live Series, called the Ennegram Entrepreneur Interviews, featuring entrepreneurs from all over who know and understand their Ennegram type and will talk about how it relates to their businesses. 

To learn more about Wellison Enterprises, visit You can also follow along on Instagram. They are also on LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook.

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In a school year that’s been unlike any other, a duo of Montessori teachers are changing the way kids learn at home. Read on for more.

The way we’re all doing things now are a little bit out of the ordinary. Schedules, workplaces, and social lives have been flipped upside down and it doesn’t look like we’ll be going back to normal any time soon. 

For parents, remote learning has been a massive adjustment. We’re not just working in home offices anymore, but our homes have also become schools. 

To help families get through this new way of learning, CASA Design Consulting is here. 

“We are child development experts with a passion for transforming the way children’s spaces look, feel, and function,” says CASA Design Consulting Co-Founder Aubrey Wallen. “We take a chaotic playroom, bedroom, or living room, and transform it into a developmentally appropriate, functional, and beautiful space through implementing a sustainable toy rotation system.”

CASA Design Consulting also specializes in creating virtual-learning spaces for families supporting children who are remote or schooling in the home. 

The inspiration for CASA Design Consulting came before COVID, although its benefits have helped families find the calm in the chaos of a global pandemic.

According to Wallen, the inspiration for CASA Design Consulting comes from her and her business partner Christine Trimmer’s experience as Montessori teachers. 

“After years of working in the classroom serving children and their parents, we know how critical a prepared environment is for the developing child, as well as the adult caring for the child,” says Wallen. “When the environment is prepared for the child at their developmental level they improve their independence, executive functioning skills like organization, concentration, and impulse control, as well as their fine and gross motor coordination.”

The duo took that inspiration and saw a need for bringing the principles of their Montessori classrooms into children’s homes to help support their academic and personal growth. Thus, CASA Design Consulting was born.

In the depth of the pandemic and with in-person learning thrown into limbo, CASA Design Consulting turned to home school renovations called “School by Casa.”

“We use our time in your home to organize and ensure that you and your child have the best set-up for virtual learning,” explains Trimmer. “As a full-time teacher in 2020, I know all of the tips to ensure that the home is set-up to promote concentration, motivation, and organization. With our perspectives, you can feel confident that School by Casa will help your child be prepared for whatever this crazy school year may bring.” 

Wallen says CASA Design Consulting took a big hit when COVID arrived, although their services through School by Casa were able to help them start booking clients again in late summer.

“Many families realized the necessity for sustainable ways to maintain order in their homes and reached out to us,” says Wallen. “Now we ensure clients that we take all precautions prior to working with them such as taking our temperature, wearing masks and gloves in the home, and switching to more virtual conversations in order to minimize in-person work.”

Wallen and Trimmer say they are looking forward to what’s to come in 2021. “We have lots of dreams and goals for the upcoming year,” they say. “It was amazing to hit all of our 2020 goals in the knick of time, so we can’t wait to see what 2021 brings. We enjoy being featured on podcasts, and it was such an honor to be named Best of the City 2020. We want our business to continue to thrive while we grow our community through connecting with more families and local businesses.”

To learn more about CASA Design Consulting, visit You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram. For those interested in School by Casa, send an email to to schedule or ask questions.

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Remote work and hybrid offices have become a fixed part of millions of people’s lives. Whether you’re cruising along or still struggling to find a good work from home rhythm, it’s important to find ways that make your day easier. When you’re at a virtual desk, it can be hard to disconnect and recognize that your home really isn’t just a place to do your job. These time-saving strategies will help you accomplish more and achieve a greater work-life balance.

Plan Your Meals

Pre-made salads and sandwiches should always be in the fridge to make your lunches easy and nutritious. Whether you want to get groceries delivered to your doorstep or still enjoy a weekly run to your local supermarket, make sure you take time to figure exactly what’s on the menu every week. This prevents you from overspending on last-minute takeout and eating overpriced, unhealthy frozen meals. Although it might seem like it takes more time at first, meal prep actually helps you stick to a better budget. You’ll be able to know exactly how much you need, how much it should cost and get the bulk of cooking out of the way on weekends so you never wind up standing in front of the fridge wondering what to eat.

Tackle Bills Online at One Time

Cell phone bills, utilities, rent/mortgage payments and other expenses should be tackled as closely together as possible. You’ll save time by ensuring everything is always taken care of before or on its due date, and there will be less time wasted logging into slow portals to make payments throughout the month. You can even use the internet to order essentials like your Ohio medical marijuana card. The ultra-fast process costs $99 and takes 15 minutes. You aren’t charged until you’re approved, and it’s an easy way to simplify your self-care without leaving home.

Mix Exercise with Other Activities

Take the dog for a 30-minute walk or practice some cardio-aerobic moves while you tend to the housework. Chores can pile up when you’re constantly occupied with work, and if you focus too much on what needs to be done around the house, you’ll likely find yourself falling asleep after another long day hunched in front of the laptop with little to no exercise. Fitness doesn’t have to be complex to be effective; do some calf-raises while you wash the dishes, some squats while you’re folding laundry and leg sit-ups when you’re on the couch.

Keep Distractions to a Minimum

Turn off the TV, install a website blocker during work hours and schedule your social media breaks. Remote work-life can quickly become a hub of distraction with so many temptations within reach. In an eight-hour workday, 10 minutes per hour scrolling through your feed costs you an hour and 20 minutes of productivity. If you are prone to distraction, try designating a distraction-free work zone in your house that helps you get into the right mindset. You can also download some apps that make it easier for you to stay on track. Notes, planners and time-trackers are all great tools to improve focus and discipline.

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Learn about a program for leaders through the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber that improves the ability to shift cultural perspective and adapt behavior and communication styles to successfully accomplish business results.

Today’s changing workforce and expanding markets require our ability to bridge across difference and communicate across cultures. The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber offers a Building Cultural Competence (BCC) program to build that bridge.

The program not only builds the bridge, but walks teams of leaders across to deliver measurable improvement on an international standard of cultural competence.

According to Amy Thompson, Senior Director of Leadership Programs at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, “It’s skill building for cultural competence, learning the impact of our emotions (EQ) on how we relate to and deal with differences. We help participants understand how their moral foundations impact decision making,” she adds. “There’s a neuroscience of bias and strategies to mitigate bias. Participants map out SMART goals at the end of the program. The focus on action planning is designed to create system change and impact.”

The Chamber is thankful to partner with the lead facilitator Priya Klocek, CEO of Consultant on the Go and several other experts to deliver the program.

So far, 220 leaders have graduated since 2017, and more than 50 organizations are represented. Thompson says the Chamber defines “leader” broadly for this program: anyone who is leading a team, has influence, and can make a difference. Participants have included business executives; healthcare providers; elected officials; clergy members; educators; community activists; journalists; realtors and more.

Through Building Cultural Competence, we are creating a growing network of leaders who serve as champions for change in our community,” she says. “By increasing the cultural competence of leaders, we can leverage their wide circles of influence to more effectively catalyze change in our region.”

Applications just opened for the sixth cohort. “Every cohort has made a significant increase in their collective level of cultural competencies, proving the program’s effectiveness and methodology,” Thompson says, adding that research based evidence shows the effectiveness. “Cultural competence has increased 11 points overall. Based on the scale used by the IDI, any increase over 7 points is significant and meaningful.”

Thompson says companies are finding it effective to send cohorts of leaders at the same time. “The virtual format has received positive feedback,” she adds. “The program is designed to be interactive and engaging. Through guided activities and interventions, participants have learned from each other in the cohort and build meaningful relationships.”

As a previous BCC cohort participant, Anisha Bhirud, Brand Marketing & Chair of Diversity & Inclusion at Perfetti Van Melle, says her experience “has been a revelation. The medium is very conducive to gaining personal insights through the perspectives of others, particularly the small group discussions,” she explains. “Previously thinking of myself as quite progressive, the program has spurred additional reflection about gaps in my ability to validate other cultures and perspectives. I believe I have developed this skill set during the program.”

Bhirud says the cohort experience provides many alternate perspectives that trigger personal insights and spur growth. “It also helps us with collaboration on the execution of systemic change within our organization,” she adds.

One of the biggest takeaways from BCC for Bhirud was the realization that every person is an iceberg. “So, what you see on a superficial level in the professional context belies that person’s full complex identity,” she explains. “That incongruence between what is allowed to manifest superficially and what is contained underneath impedes honest communication. Understanding each other on this level is crucial to bridging cultural competencies.”

Bhirud says the BCC program has shifted the way she thinks significantly, particularly about equity. “We have focused so much on Diversity and Inclusion in the past, but 2020 has demonstrated the prescience of equity, especially as opposed to equality,” she says. “An example of this is called ‘The Box.’ We are all different heights and trying to look over a fence. Each person is given the same size box, giving each person an equal boost. However, despite equal assistance not everyone may be able to look over the fence. Equity dictates that each person needs the right size box for them in order to truly have an opportunity.”

Bhirud says she highly recommends BCC to anyone interested in expanding their perspectives as it relates to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “You’ll find, as did myself and all my peers, that the DEI journey has only started and there is a long way for many of us to go,” she adds.

The program is open to business, non-profit and community leaders from all sectors. Tuition includes two intercultural competence assessments and two individual coaching sessions as well as all materials, meals and related program costs. The program is delivered in 13 sessions over two months. For more information, visit competence.

Applications are due January 15, 2021.

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If you have started college after a few years in the working world, you probably have a good idea of what you want to do with your life. However, if you are like most freshmen, you have just graduated from high school. Now, you are expected over the course of just a few years to know what you want to do with the rest of your life even though you have very little life experience. This can be daunting, and you may genuinely feel that you lack the tools you need to make this decision. The tips below can help.

Know What You Love

Of course, the first place to look when you are deciding on a career is to the things you love. Some people have it easy. They have known since childhood that they wanted to be an astronaut, a nurse or a computer programmer. Most people are not quite this focused, but you can look at the things you enjoy doing and consider whether you might want to pursue it as a career. For example, if you are someone that people have always come to about their problems, psychology might be the field for you. If you love examining data, a career in statistics or data analysis could be fulfilling.

Know What You Need

It’s great to do what you love, but you need to be able to support yourself as well. This doesn’t mean you should choose the career that will make you rich, but you should be realistic about the lifestyle you want after college and what career path will support that lifestyle. For example, you may have taken out private student loans to pay for the high tuition costs of getting your undergraduate degree. This is often in addition to federal student loans. What kind of a salary will you need to pay those off promptly along with housing, utilities, food and entertainment?

Keep Your Perspective

While it’s important to try to make the right choice and get on the career path you want to be on early in life, you should keep in mind that with a very few exceptions, the choices you make do not have to be permanent. In fact, a few career changes throughout a person’s life is more common these days than staying on the same path, and the mid-life career shift is common. Sometimes, you can put yourself into a position in which you become paralyzed if you place too high a premium on the decision that you need to make. If you are feeling conflicted or even panicked, try to keep the focus on the best choice for right now as opposed to the best choice for the rest of your life.

Know Your Resources

One thing you have on your side is that as a college student, there are an enormous number of resources available to you. Your advisor, professors and the school’s career center as well as professional organizations and the alumni network can all be great sources of information and advice. You may also have the chance to intern in an industry that interests you. Remember, if the information you gather points you away from the career you thought you wanted, there is always time to change course.

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See how this annual event (virtual this year) brings together business and community executives for best practices in inclusion, an inspiring keynote, and an update on how the region is becoming more diverse by design and inclusive by intention.

The community’s largest annual business gathering focused on inclusion, the Fifth Third Bank Diversity Leadership Symposium hosted by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, is coming up Dec. 10. This year, it’ll look much different than usual, but event organizers consider that a good thing.

“Before this, the conversations were happening, the room was full, and we still weren’t reaching everyone we needed to. More people are raising their hands now. Because of COVID-19 and George Floyd along with many others, we have greater awareness coupled with a business community that says we’re going to come out of this COVID depression and emerge a better version of ourselves,” says Jill Meyer, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “Hearts have been changed, awareness has been lifted, and we’re putting tools in the hands of those who will rebuild differently. It’s an opportunity we didn’t ask for but it’s our reality. It’s an opportunity to build things the right away. My excitement is how quickly, and robustly a diverse the group of participants – and not just our usual suspects in these conversations – are coming to participate now.”

The event’s exclusive conversations will be headlined by Greg Carmichael, President & CEO of Fifth Third Bank and David Taylor, President & CEO of The Procter & Gamble Co. Participants will hear directly from these top leaders of the importance of having intentional, committed focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and how the business community can have profound impact on meaningful progress. Additional programing will include panel discussions and breakout sessions. 

Jill Meyer, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

“We are kicking off the conversation with how they have been tackling this, producing results, and how we can all learn from one another,” says Meyer. “Normally, we bring in a national speaker, who’s on the circuit, and usually has written a book about the issues we’re focusing on. This year, we’re focused on Black talent, and hearing from businesses based right here in Cincinnati instead.”

Meyer says that while there’s work to do, there are many good things happening in our businesses – with measurable results – and the Chamber is thrilled to highlight that work to inspire even more. “Things that people can learn from and replicate,” Meyer adds. “What’s happening and going well that people can learn from? Who are our local leaders and resources that can help others lean in and think creatively?” 

This focus on inclusivity, Meyer says, isn’t new for the Chamber. “The work we’ve been doing at the Chamber for more than five years has been centered on the commitment to model inclusion in everything we do,” she explains. “We see the data that says not everyone is participating in our economic momentum and the rise of the community. There’s a big population in this region not participating, not because they don’t want to, it’s because they can’t break through or navigate some of the systems that are in place.”  

Meyer says she’s confident in our collective ability to build differently going forward because it’s in the DNA of this region. “It’s the Cincinnati way. Maybe sometimes we’re too humble. But it’s the willingness to roll up our sleeves and really dig in. There’s a lot of that happening now on the diversity, equity and inclusion front,” she says. “To think about the Cincinnati we knew in February –there was a lot of good stuff happening then. But the Cincinnati that emerges from this is going to be far more vibrant, with an even more lively energy …because there’s an imperative that we must do better. More people are taking ownership of inclusion in an intentional and committed way. It absolutely will bring the community to life in a way it hasn’t in the past.”

Due to ongoing health concerns of public gatherings, this event – which typically sells out with over 800 attendees – will be held virtually. “We see this as an opportunity to reach even more people with a message that’s more important and needed than ever,” says Meyer. The event will take place from 8am-12pm. Click here to learn more and RSVP:

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Learn about the Workforce Innovation Center that now offers more than 120 inclusive best practices, policies, and partnerships to support companies’ unique workforce and talent needs.


It’s no secret that businesses are facing unprecedented challenges in the current economy. People are also struggling. With poverty and disparities, especially along lines of race, it’s holding our community back. That’s where the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s  Workforce Innovation Center can help. 

Through a newly unveiled three-tired service offering the Workforce Innovation Center helps by providing:

  • assessment services to help companies identify issue areas
  • more than 120 practice and policy recommendations and partnerships to customize solutions for companies
  • evaluating and recognizing companies through a formal process, which is in development

Workforce Innovation Center Executive Director Audrey Treasure says the concept is led by the idea of “inclusive capitalism,” which aims to make capitalism benefit employees, communities, and shareholders with the positive results. 

“Business was designed to be in the best interest of their stakeholders, meaning the employees, employers and community as a whole,” explains Treasure. “We aim to return to this idea that a business invests in their people as part of their long-term talent play for all. It doesn’t have to be about how fast you can turn a profit. It’s about building a strong community. We’re beating our drum that this is how we want businesses run in Cincinnati.”

Treasure says plans to launch the Workforce Innovation Center has long been in the works, but COVID-19 made the need for its services even more apparent. “COVID-19 forced us to make this more available to more companies. That’s why we broke it down into three service offerings, you can choose one, or two or three of those so we can help you reach your goals,” she explains. “The pandemic also made it more apparent that people live in financially precarious positions, which is really troubling. We want employers to be part of the solution.”

The Workforce Innovation Center takes a direct approach of consulting with companies to understand what is happening within their workforce. Through an assessment process of a company’s identified challenges, policies, and employee experience, the Center proposes solutions that can improve the business’ operations and can also help address challenges that employees might be experiencing. “A company may have a tardiness policy that is overly punitive and results in a high turnover rate of employees that could otherwise be successful,” explains Treasure. “The Center can then support an employer in implementing practice changes in order to achieve its desired outcomes and improve its bottom line.”

Not only does the Center offer this support, but it also serves as a hub between businesses and the workforce ecosystem that exists in this region. “These social solutions organizations excel at removing barriers for people who are looking to advance their lives through work and can bring companies new sources of talent that employers may not have previously considered,” she says. “There’s also been a real increase in focus on racial disparities. Companies come to us asking how we can help them bridge the gap. They want to be intentional about how they improve policies and practices, as part of their business strategy and we’re there to help.”

Treasure says they help local businesses large and small through the Center, the smallest currently having 14 employees and the largest having thousands.

Liza Smitherman, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Jostin Construction, Inc.  

“We see an opportunity for companies to drive changes within their business to improve company operational and financial performance and support their employees,” says Treasure. “We can give businesses – regardless of size – tools and measurements to tell them how they’re doing. We think if we can do this company by company, this will have a transformational effect on the community as a whole.”

The Workforce Innovation Center was established by business leaders who wanted to make the reduction of poverty in the region a priority. Liza Smitherman, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Jostin Construction, Inc.  sat on the advisory board of the Workforce Innovation Center prior to launch, and also recently brought Jostin Construction on board to utilize all three service levels.

“They made it easy to share and acknowledge that there are opportunities for improvement so they can then help. It’s so important to know where our employees fit, center their voices, so we can hear from our stakeholders, our assets our employees,” Smitherman explains. “A good business that wants to have good jobs needs to hear from their people. The center helps our employees give comprehensive feedback, while also getting an objective review of that feedback, benchmarked by industry standards and best practices to let us know how we’re doing and areas of needed growth.”

Smitherman says she feels extremely thankful to have access to the Center’s services in Cincinnati. “We are in Ohio, so we’re more conservative about how we look at things,” she adds. “I give credit to the Chamber in particular who pull together a very diverse group of voices that then help move this needle forward. There’s some empowerment felt that my voice can be heard as much as a big business that’s been around for 20-30 years.” 

This business-focused resource is part of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Through this, the Workforce Innovation Center is able to offer support to companies while helping them solve challenges and find new sources of talent, consider new ways of doing business to support their success, and engage companies in the process of increasing economic mobility for those in poverty. 

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation Center, visit You can check out more using the Cincy Chamber’s presence on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook and the Center’s new LinkedIn page. You can also watch and share these short videos focused on the Center’s approach for businesses and how it will impact the community as a whole.

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See how you can easily and quickly switch to a tech career -- at no cost to you -- through a registered apprenticeship with technical training and paid, on-the-job experience.

Where you’re headed, not where you’ve been. That’s the focus for Apprenti Cincinnati, a registered apprenticeship program designed to recruit and train professionals — based on their aptitude, not their background — helping to fill Greater Cincinnati’s shortage of skilled tech talent.

“We take individuals that have different backgrounds and help move them into careers in technology,” says Apprenti Cincinnati director, Christina Misali. “In about a year and a half, you can completely switch careers and take on no tuition debt in the process.”

Apprenti Cincinnati was brought to the region through the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the CIO Roundtable. Thanks to a generous investment by JPMorgan Chase and support from the Duke Energy Foundation, they’re leading this tech talent collaborative designed to expand and diversify the region’s IT workforce. Since the program launched in February 2019, Apprenti Cincinnati has placed 46 talented professionals into a variety of IT roles.

Maria Konerman is one of those professionals. “I was working in non-profit management. I started to realize it wasn’t a good fit for me,” recalls Konerman, now an Associate Application Analyst/Developer at Great American Insurance Group. “I just had this nagging voice that I wanted to pursue a career in IT.” 

At first, Konerman says, thinking about a career change, the education costs and starting from scratch in a new field seemed too daunting. That is, until Apprenti Cincinnati made her dream a reality. “I could not be more grateful to have this opportunity. It’s changed my life and I’ll always be profoundly grateful,” she says. “Sometimes I wake up and get on my computer to do my development work and I can’t believe it. I’m like ‘How did I even get here?'”

Konerman, like many other candidates and apprentices like her, got there through Apprenti Cincinnati’s non-traditional solution to drive more tech talent in and to the Cincinnati region. Apprenti was launched by the Washington Technology Industry Association, headquartered out of Seattle, in 2016. It now has multiple locations across the country with more than 1,000 apprentices placed in a variety of tech roles.

To get started, candidates take the aptitude assessment to measure math, soft skills and critical thinking abilities. Then, there’s a multi-level screening process. “The entire process can be 3-5 weeks. Some, we talk to over a six month period,” says Misali. “It depends on where our employers are in their hiring process and where the candidates are in their career journey. We meet people where they are.” 

After interviewing with an employer, the apprentices participate in certified technical training ranging from 10-15 weeks through one of several local training partners: Cincinnati State, Tech Elevator, MAX Technical Training, Per Scholas, Kable Academy and the University of Cincinnati.

After training, they start work with their hiring partner – local employers, such as Kroger Technology, Procter & Gamble, CVG and Great American Insurance Group. Employers pay for the technical training and continue to educate their apprentices through paid on-the-job training for one year. Roles currently offered include: software developers, IT business analysts, network security professionals, IT support admins, cloud specialists, cybersecurity analyst and more.

Local employers are eager to fill their tech positions, Misali says. In fact, more than 37,950 IT roles were posted in the Cincinnati Region in 2019. Apprenti Cincinnati works with companies large and small to fill open positions with tech-interested individuals, regardless of educational or professional background. 

Recent events have only accelerated this need. “We’re depending even more on tech for everything. People are finding themselves unemployed or they’re thinking about what really matters to them and reconsidering career choices,” Misali says. “We help companies lean in to meet demands of un- and underemployed professionals, and we help candidates who have more than ever on their plates step toward a new career.”

According to Misali, 46 percent of Apprenti Cincinnati apprentices were unemployed for less than 27 weeks prior to starting the program. “That leads to a municipal investment for the region as the average salary post-graduation in our area is $50-70k,” she adds, “Some people are seeing over 100 percent increase in earnings. And we have 100 percent retention to date for our region.”

Apprenti Cincinnati also helps to diversify employer’s candidate pipeline. “Women, minorities and veterans are a focus for this program. We’ve placed apprentices from age 18-49. Our inaugural class was 55% women,” Misali explains. “Given everything going on in the world right now, especially with recent racial injustices, employers can partner with Apprenti to increase diversity within their tech teams. This is a community. This has always been about offering support.”

Apprenti Cincinnati is for the broadest range of candidates possible – no IT experience is required, just interest, aptitude, and work ethic. To learn more, or register, visit

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A local art gallery and consulting business is expanding into a brand new location. Click here for more details on the upcoming Grand Opening.

After 27 years running Art Design Consultants (ADC) in the heart of Cincinnati, Owner Litsa Spanos is expanding her business to the new ADC West Gallery.

Spanos and her business ADC offer assistance to residential, corporate, and commercial clients in finding artwork that reinforces their unique goals, missions, and brand identities. 

When it comes to consulting with clients, Spanos says that she wants to create spaces that are a reflection of them and who they are. 

The team at ADC doesn’t focus on a specific medium of art, rather they offer clients a variety of mediums, styles, and artists.

The new ADC location is in a warehouse on the West End.

In addition to helping clients find artwork that speaks to them, she also enjoys offering support to artists through the Blink Art Resource Guide, which is designed in-house and in its sixth year of showcasing artists and connecting them directly to buyers. 

With the expansion of her business to a brand new location, Spanos is now preparing for the Grand Opening of the ADC West Gallery, which will open on November 21 alongside the new publication of the Blink Art Resource. 

The new ADC West Gallery will now be located in the West End.

The West End facility on York Street is a refurbished warehouse and will offer an expanded gallery with even more artwork and a larger framing facility. ADC West will now have the space to pursue two new concepts we have been considering – a co-working environment and a nonprofit inspirational space called Blink Scape.

Blink Scape at the West End location will be a 20-foot square white cube dedicated to conceptual art installations. The 20′ x 20′ non-profit installation room, located centerstage in the new ADC West Gallery, is a place where art inspires and heals, bringing the community thought-provoking installations that create joy and lead to transformation.

Those who want to experience the CUBE can do so with a $25 donation to ADC Fine Art.   

The Grand Opening reception is November 21 from 12-5pm. ADC West is located at 1013 York Street in Cincinnati. 

The show will feature over 150 of the nation’s most talented artists featured in the annual Blink Art Resource publication. Spanos says that masks and an RSVP are required for each experience to help ensure proper social distancing, and to keep visitors as safe as possible.

To learn more, click here.