Barbara Payne's Capitalist Cleveland Blog

News and Views: Entrepreneurs a-thrive in Northeast Ohio

Friday, September 30, 2005

October guest drinker is...

Don't miss the October 4 Gorilla Group bash at the Market Avenue Wine Bar. Talk about radio shows....
October Guest Drinker
Frank Foti is the Founder and President of Telos Systems/Omnia Audio, the leading innovative processing company, located in Cleveland, Ohio. He leads a talented team that researches and designs signal processing for every form of broadcasting. Ten years ago, he lead the design of the Omnia line of audio processors, which are the leading choice of broadcasters the worldover... Read the rest here.
Five bucks to get in and a small contribution to e-City's Entrepreneurship Academy. Not a bad deal for a night of fun and inspiration.

Here we go a-ranking... lists "hot cities" for entrepreneurs. Here are the definitions of the rankings:

  • Overall Entrepreneurial Activity Rank:
    Averages the young company rank and rapid grower rank to identify the best places to start and grow a company.
  • Young Company Rank:
    Number of companies within an area that started 4 to 14 years ago and have at least five employees today
  • Rapid Growth Rank:
    Measurement of a company's job growth that accounts for both absolute and percent change in employment

Oh, yeah, Cleveland's doing okay. We're No. 24--after such as Phoenix, 2 in North Carolina, Columbus, Houston, Chicago and a bunch of others, and ahead of such as San Francisco (by a hair), Detroit, Boston, New York and others. Looks to me like some of the traditional winners are fighting, just as we are, and we're pulling up.

Thanks to some of the very people we talk about on the Capitalist Cleveland radio show, showcase at The Gorilla Group meetings (2nd Tuesdays at Market Avenue Wine Bar) and mention in the Profit Statement email news. And to some great work being done by Jumpstart and a bunch of other organizations that have gotten real money to do real good stuff for the region.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Anybody need publicity?

Who doesn't. It's the big name of the game in promoting your business.

A dynamic group of independent PR specialists is hosting a teleseminar over at Meyers University Club coming up on October 6. A hot shot from out of town who calls herself "The Publicity Hound" is going to tell everything you want to know in a 90-minute live teleseminar. It's from 4 to 6 pm., costs 20 bucks, and seating is limited. Read more here on how to reserve a spot.

Entrepreneur helping kick up NEO's economy

Business is always a critical piece of economic development. Most often the people in businesses contribute mainly by spending their salaries in the area. But sometimes, a business owner comes along who sees greater needs and jumps in with both feet to help--on top of supplying jobs and salaries for community residents.

Met such a guy this week at well-attended conference sponsored by Benesch Friedlander aimed at bioscience businesses in Northeast Ohio. Jim Kish owns a highly successful engineering company--Engineering Elements, Inc.--located in Willoughby, Ohio. But he's also making waves in nearby Lake County where he's actively engaged in promoting at least FIVE major projects:
  • rebuilding Fairport Harbor ($27 million project) and the surrounding area (total $65 million)

  • promoting a traveling educational theater for kids

  • working with I-Open and Entrepreneurs for Sustainability on a wind-powered electrical generation project

  • with I-Open helping to create a robotics school in this area

  • promoting the use of worm factories to create rich soil from vegetable waste (first effort turned down by the Cleveland zoning & planning folks--but it's under appeal)
Reading about this guy's activities makes me feel like a bit of an under-achiever. Know what I mean?

Oh, yeah, and in his spare time over the last 20 years or so, he's developed a highly reliable technique for doubling his money in the investments game. Congratulations, Jim. You're more living proof of how one person does make a big difference.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Speaking of regionalism...

Just wrote a post over at BlogforBusiness about how the Northeast Ohio biosciences are helping businesses discover all the resources available to them in the area. A lot more than most people realize. Read about Team NEO, Jumpstart,, and more here.

Last week's mayoral candidate debate

They met in good faith. All the candidates for Mayor of Cleveland, including current Mayor Jane Campbell, called together to bare their souls to Clevelanders by answering a series of rapid-fire questions from a moderator. I pulled out my not-so-trusty Treo phone and set it up with the wireless keyboard to take notes.

I learned a lot from observing the candidates and evaluating their responses. I certainly learned that there are a few candidates I would definitely not vote for. If you couldn't be there, you may be able to learn a couple of things from my rough and ready recounting of the event. Click here for my stream-of-consciousness mayoral debate notes.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Chicago street life

Sitting on the corner of one of the latest-up-and-coming neighborhoods in Chicago at 6:45 of an evening. My last night here on this visit.

The street life in Ukrainian Village is amazing. In 20 minutes I've seen a a minimum of 20 people walking by with their dogs (many of them with not one but two dogs). Strolling by with great purpose, eagerly engaging their own physical energies on behalf of their pets. Cars with all manner of folks at the wheel. ...whoops, gotta go. More later.

Who's pressing for technology expansion?

Well, I can tell you it ain't just us folks in Cleveland. Doing some research for a project while I'm in Chicago and stumbled on this website called Chicago Technology Today, and doncha know, the Chicago Mayor's Council of Technology Advisors sounds an awful lot like the leaders here in Cleveland--crying out for more investment, decrying the lack of new tech businesses, warning that Chicago could fall behind other cities--even though it never has.

It pays to look at what's going on elsewhere--especially for the segment of Clevelanders who still have that famous inferiority complex. Check out below and just substitute Cleveland for Chicago and COSE for Chicago Entrepreneurial Center. And anything you see on this site that you think we can use in Cleveland but don't yet have, let's talk about it.
As the only entity in the Chicagoland area dedicated to serving the more than 400,000 small and mid-sized businesses throughout our six-county region, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (the Center) helps ensure the future success of these businesses and protects the interests of our community at large. The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center is an initiative of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
They're about providing programs and services to small and emerging businesses--to create and retain jobs, help business startups, expansions and acquisitions; and strengthen links between those who make up the "rich network of resources in the metropolitan area."

The issue appears to be that neither Cleveland, nor Chicago, nor any city stands alone in its struggle in the new global environment. And thinking about robbing Peter Ohio to pay Paul Illinois doesn't make a lot of sense. So Capitalist Clevelanders, as you're out there creating businesses, think about how much you're contributing to this whole world by creating more instead of taking someone else's something. It's a good thing--but as we all know, it ain't easy.

Pat yourselves on the back today.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Speaking of the Red Cross/Katrina story...

Here are a couple more events you can consider scheduling into your calendar and/or your wallet.

FRIDAY, September 16, the City Club of Cleveland will host a Red Cross speaker on its response to Katrina--hear the firsthand story of the past several weeks while it's fresh. Visit for details and ticket information.

WEDNESDAY, September 28, the House of Blues, Rock Hall, Embassy of Hungary, and the Red Cross hold a concert by Coalition of the Willing, featuring the Ambassador of Hungary, a former member of Steely Dan and several other luminaries. Rumors are these guys are hot. Ticket sales benefit House of Blues New Orleans employees devastated by the storm, but you can also separate donate separately to the American Red Cross (email here). For ticket information, call 216-523-BLUE or visit

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Entrepreneur's business grows with gas prices

Hey, you think you've got something to complain about with gas prices? Look at this report from The American Trucking Association--trucking companies will spend an "unprecedented $85 billion on fuel this year, marking a $23 billion increase over 2004." Ouch.

I worked several years for a highly successful trucking software company here in Cleveland (entrepreneur Tom Weisz's TMW Systems in Beachwood), and I learned more than you could ever imagine about how the trucking industry operates. And how their profits (certainly since deregulation back in the 70s) are measured in tiny fractions of a penny per mile. You have to track every last blasted item--including tire tread wear so you can see how much you can get back in warranties on tires that didn't last the promised XXX miles. Just think how important good software is to your survival under tight conditions like that...

Someone once said--and it's true--everything you eat, wear, or touch in anyway has been on a truck at some time in its life. So while we're moaning about our hit at the gas pump, brace yourself for prices on airline travel and just about everything else to go up, too. Soon.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The 400 evacuees that never made it...

Apparently, when they canceled the 400 evacuees coming here, some folks were concerned that their donations would not be used properly.

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Northeast Ohio Direct Marketing Association, I received information from my fellow Board member, a director at Red Cross here in Cleveland, as to what the Red Cross is doing with the money that's being donated and how it's being used here and elsewhere.

If you know anyone who is concerned about this, please direct them to this thorough accounting of what's going on at the Red Cross with donations for Katrina. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Below-the-board marketing tactics

I hate it when a box pops up on my computer screen that won't let me get do anything (like get rid of it) other than do what it tells me to do. Remember when Microsoft first introduced that incredibly annoying dancing paper clip? I wanted to buy a gun and shoot the thing.

It's the not-being-given-a-choice that drives me crazy. I wrote a rant about this on BlogforBusiness this morning, and I asked local software vendor Andrew Holland (EYEMG) what he thought and he's at least as, if not more PO'd than I am. Says it's one way vendors dupe us into spending more than we need to..

After reading what Andrew says, how do you feel about this sort of dishonest marketing trick?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Clevelander out there doing good

A giving circle is all about getting together and pooling resources to maximize the effect of your giving. Jim Simpson, a Gorilla Group summer fest attendee, told me about how his son Scott is working on this in D.C. and he was even quoted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper--before that city was devastated by Katrina last week.

Jim says Scott would like to duplicate his philanthropic endeavors in the Cleveland area. See the New Orleans story on Philanthropic Giving Circles--and how perfect the victims of Katrina would be as a cause for a giving circle. Also check out the work Scott's doing to help stop the spread of AIDS at, including a free download of a handbook about AIDS vaccines.

If you'd like to do more than just read, giving and volunteer opportunities abound. Contact Scott for more information.

You've heard it before--email lowers your IQ

Well, email's not the only culprit. When you combine the arrival of massive numbers of email--all clamoring for your attention--with always-on cell phones, instant messaging, multiple software programs to help you manage every aspect of your day and your data, the resulting chaos does measurably affect your ability to concentrate, to think creatively and to perform at your best.

I wrote not long ago about a company called HeartMath and how they've conducted extensive research into the relationship of your heart to your sense of well-being, your physical health, and your ability to think clearly. Their discoveries about the electromagnetic field of the heart are astonishing--e.g., the energy field of your heart can reach out from your body by as much as ten feet in any direction. The brain's is much less far-reaching.

Last week I started working with their bio-sensor feedback mechanism called the Freeze Framer--using it to see what I could do without learning any of their specific techniques. (I'm keeping a journal and will eventually report on the process.) Meanwhile, over the weekend I finally started reading the book that comes with the sensor called "Transforming Stress."

Suffice it to say, seeing your heart rate and rhythm displayed on your computer screen is an eye-opener that everybody should have a chance at. Even more exciting is learning to positively affect that critical organ. And most exciting of all is to have proof that positive emotions of care and appreciation and gratitude are good for your health.
Here's a quote from their website
:"What Would You Like to Improve?
Your work performance; your child's school work; your golf game; your creative efforts; your health; your fitness; home or social relationships; your peace of mind?"
Stay tuned. I'll be writing more about HeartMath.

Monday, September 05, 2005

How hard do you knock?

Incredible. I wrote some time ago about an all-natural compound that's used to neutralize odor and deactivate bad microorganisms on garbage. It was used to great effect in the cleanup of the tsunami--and the implication is that it could be extremely helpful in the aftermath of Katrina.

Late last night a sales representative from a company that sells this product commented on that blog entry that he and his company have been trying to talk to the U.S. government and state and local governments about it:
"...trying to reach the US government agencies since the Sunday before Hurricane Katrina hit. After contacting each state Governor, FEMA, The America Red Cross, the state Emergency Management Agencies, the US Senators from each state, etc., we still have not received even a reply. It has been 7 days!"
I don't know about you, but as someone who's done my fair share of selling, this non-responsiveness sounds like status quo to me.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, how many doors have you knocked on--and for how long--to tell them about a product that could dramatically improve their sales, make their customers happier, and/or pump up their bottom line--and they wouldn't even give you a hearing?

Governments are no different. Read the blog and the comment (scroll to the bottom).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Real money for NEO--hurray for our team!

Sometimes the news is so good it just makes ya wanna grin from ear to ear. The enewsletter from Jumpstart today did just that for me. Check this out (I'm just putting the whole thing in here because it's all so cool):
When the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission told Cleveland that the DFAS Center here wasn't competitive enough to stay open, Carol Caruso and Fred Nance of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) and Congressman Steve LaTourette, said we will just see about that. And so this Dream Team of economic development joined forces to turn a potential loss of 1,000 jobs into a 400 job gain by proving the evaluation process used by the commission was flawed.

What many readers of JS Connect may not know (or remember) is that this team came together before, not to defend jobs, but to help create new ones in entrepreneurial endeavors. With coordinating help from GCP and the political will of Congressman LaTourette, JumpStart recently received the "official" grant award from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for $735,000. This marks the conclusion of an effort that started nearly a year ago to get federal dollars for economic development into Northeast Ohio. This simply wouldn't have happened without the support of Congressman LaTourette and the Greater Cleveland Partnership - coming together for the benefit of Northeast Ohio.
Congratulations to Congressman LaTourette, the GC Partnership, and to Jumpstart. Visit JumpStart here.

Now, we're talkin' action.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Comedy beside tragedy

Local comedy kings John Lanigan and Jimmy Malone had on the show this morning a comedian from New Orleans (calling in from somewhere else). He managed to slip in a few funnies even as he described how he got out of NO because he had the means. He said that 40+% of the city's people are (or were) in poverty. He said there's one main highway through the city--to those who asked why didn't people just leave he pointed out that over a million people, many without private transportation or money to hire transport would have had to find a way to get out on the one main road. He said, "I can't get ten people to get out of my house in one hour..."

As a contributing writer to Blogcritics, I give you the link to their site where you can give through PayPal and 100% of your donation will go to the Red Cross Hurrican Relief Fund. Give if you can. If you can't or you just don't do that sort of thing, send love and prayers. They can be far more valuable and even more powerful than gold.