“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.” — Dean Kamen
June 23, 2020
COMING TO CINCY
Image by wavebreakmedia for Shutterstock
Forty-four percent of working parents spend five hours or more per week driving kids to and from school and activities, according to a recent report.
Add more kids and more activities, and the driving—including the stress from disrupting work to do it—can become unmanageable. Parents using Trusted Rides are saving on average 2.5 hours per week
Tom Gott, a father of two himself, decided that families need a safe, reliable solution to “balance the busy.” That’s how the child transportation service Trusted Rides came to be.
Gott and business partner Michelle Exoo, are now expanding their ride-sharing business from their home base in Grand Rapids to Cincinnati. Cincinnati Future spoke with Gott about Trusted Rides and their plans.
The customer side
Here’s how the program works: Customers download the Trusted Rides app and schedule a ride like they would with any ride-share service. Parents book a ride (rides can be scheduled up to three months in advance). Once the transaction is complete, the parent receives a 30-second video of the driver who will be picking their child up, a picture of the driver, and a secret password that their child will use to connect with the driver. The driver will not receive the password until showing up at the pick-up location. Each password is new with each rides and system generated.
“Once the child is in the car, a parent will get a text informing them. The parent can watch the whole ride via geo-fencing from their phone. At the end of the ride, the parent will get another text letting them know their child has arrived,” Gott explained.
The physical safety of the car’s occupants extends beyond the stringent security measures Trusted Rides takes. “Our drivers use an UV wand in the vehicle before and after every ride, which reduces bacteria and viruses," Gott said.
The drivers go through a rigorous seven-point interview process, which includes a road test and full FBI background check. “We also do a 21-point inspection on their vehicle,” Gott said.
Expansion to Cincinnati
So why did Gott and Exoo choose Cincinnati as their next place to expand?
“My wife’s former college roommate lives in Madeira. We visit a lot so I’m familiar with the area. She has made a large number of introductions for us. And after doing some data analysis, it made good business sense to come to Cincinnati,” said Gott.
Trusted Drivers will be hiring 20-25 drivers in the Cincinnati market. You can click here to see the requirements and to apply.
Gott says that during COVID-19, ride activity slowed down a bit but he used the time to provide transportation solutions with select companies that want to offer the service at a discount as an added benefit to their employees. A ride service goes a long way toward easing the stress of working parents.
“Our goal is to offer parents a safe alternative to getting their kids from point A to point B,” Gott said. And to "balance the busy."
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Ohio earns award for jobs and investment projects
Ohio has been honored by Area Development with a Silver Shovel award for its roster of economic development projects begun in 2019.
Area Development’s annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting high-value investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. The awards are given to the states with the highest weighted scores based on the number of high-valued added jobs per capita, amount of investment, number of new facilities, and industry diversity. You can find the entire Area Development report here.
For consideration for the award, each state was invited to submit information about its top 10 job creation and investment projects in 2019. JobsOhio submitted projects representing more than 4,250 jobs and more than $3 billion in investment across seven industries: energy and chemicals, logistics and distribution, e-commerce and distribution, healthcare corporate offices, food sciences, steel, and business services.
"Once again, Ohio is being recognized as a great place to do business," said Governor Mike DeWine. "Our central location along with our reputation for a business-friendly climate and strong workforce continues to grow. We want companies to know that Ohio is a place where you can find success."
Creating innovative treatment for rheumatic heart disease
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Northern Kentucky University are leading research on innovation that could better treat rheumatic heart disease and change how health care is provided in rural areas.
The American Health Association awarded Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center $2.5 million as part of its new Strategically Focused Research Network. Children’s is teaming up with nine institutions, including NKU and the Rheumatic Heart Disease Research Collaborative in Uganda, to develop mobile technologies and increase evidence-based care for those living with the disease.
NKU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics is supporting the project’s data analysis and the College of Health and Human Services will be supporting cross-disciplinary learning experiences for students engaged in the research.
"The technologies developed could change how health care is provided in rural areas —where WiFi and cell phone coverage is still problematic," Valerie Hardcastle, Ph.D., one of the study's researchers, said in a news release. "Our goal is to spread access to portable, internet-based technologies that are easy to use and don't require robust connections."
SHAPING THE FUTURE
$600K in grants to Black entrepreneurs in Greater Cincy
Champions of Change, an initiative of United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC), is a group of volunteer citizens whose goal is to help the Black community fight poverty and promote more equitable outcomes. The group launched Black Empowerment Works, a program to provide funding to support “grassroots-generated, Black-led ideas, programs and projects.”
Now UWGC has awarded the first Black Empowerment Works grants to 29 projects led by Black entrepreneurs—everything from agriculture to multimedia training to workforce development to youth leadership education. The grants, which range from $8,500 to $25,000, totaled roughly $600,000.
UWGC community impact manager Jena Bradley said, “Too many black families and individuals in our region are experiencing poverty, and too few Black-led ideas, programs and projects receive funding and resources to address it. While the systemic trend of underinvestment in Black-led ideas is national in its scope, we knew there was work we could do to address it here at United Way.”
COhatch co-working company has big plans for Cincy
In the next few months, Worthington-based coworking company COhatch is going to open two new spaces in Cincinnati, with plans to eventually open eight more. The company, which has 10 locations in Dayton, Columbus, and Springfield, OH, temporarily closed its facilities due to COVID-19 but reopened in early May. It says it uses a combination of “signage, sanitation stands, frequent cleaning, and temperature checks” to keep visitors safe.
In addition to the new Cincy spots, one in Deerfield Towne Center that’s slated to open in July and the other in Hyde Park, opening this fall, COhatch has flagged several other locations as “Coming Soon,” including spaces in Cleveland and Indianapolis.
In a statement, CEO Matt Davis said, “We see Cincinnati as a perfect fit for our lifestyle concept that brings together entrepreneurs, startups and nonprofits in a community town hall 2.0 concept where we provide the space, locations, tools, and activities to help individuals and organizations flourish."
Cincy craft studio offers take-home kits
AR Workshop, a “boutique DIY studio,” is a national franchise that offers hands-on classes in Mason and Hyde Park. It caters to those who want to create their own customized home décor—like canvas pillows, knit blankets, wooden signs, trays—even pet beds. The workshops are geared toward highly social events, such as birthday parties, summer camps, and team-building gatherings. So when COVID-19 came along, AR had to suspend its brick-and-mortar operations.
Not to be deterred, however, the company began selling DIY-to-GO kits, so that people stuck at home could be socially distanced but still satisfy the urge to do something crafty. AR Workshop has now reopened in both Cincy locations, with limited class sizes and private events. If you’d rather work at home, though, the kits are still available.
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