Accessing Capital for Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects

Since 2017, the COSE Interest Rate Buydown Program has invested $123,403 in 8 small business energy efficiency projects that have resulted in 1,728,372 kWh savings across the 300,000 square feet of commercial space. These projects have generated $1.3 million of total development.

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    Featured Project: Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy 

    Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy is one of the largest and most respected compounding pharmacies in the country with a new location in Beachwood coming soon.

    COSE performed a comprehensive (ASHRAE Level II) energy assessment of the 20,620 square foot former bus garage to assess the potential for cost effective Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) (a $3,000 value, paid for by FirstEnergy and an exclusive benefit to COSE/GCP members). 

    Working with a raw space with intended new usage, the COSE Energy Team identified 23 main ECM’s for consideration during the retrofit to provide the maximum utility and O&M expenditure reduction.

    Extensive upgrades are being made to the building to accommodate the Pharmacy, including LED lighting and HVAC. 

    Benefits of working with the Energy Team included:

    • Captured $2,698 in cash rebates for lighting; 
    • Leveraged COSE’s Interest Rate Buy-down Program and saved $68,422 on its loan for LED lighting and HVAC measures through KeyBank (a 3.5% interest rate reduction) 
    • Lee Silsby leveraged more than $73,000 in total value through their relationship with the GCP/COSE energy teamFeatured Project: Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy 

    Contact the COSE Energy team today to learn more about the program at 216-592-2205 or email energy@cose.org

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    Next up: Affordable Change to Exit Signs Results in More Energy Savings for You
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  • Affordable Change to Exit Signs Results in More Energy Savings for You

    When looking for energy savings, sometimes it’s the little changes which create the most value.

    When looking for energy savings, sometimes it’s the little changes which create the most value.

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    Something that small business owners don’t think too much about is a business requirement, exit signs. All businesses have them and most probably do not give them a second thought, but small business owners will see a quick payback when they upgrade to a more efficient solution.

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    The average exit sign in existing buildings is several years old and uses incandescent light bulbs. They use 40 watt bulbs and are on 24/7. This small amount of energy output really adds up. New signs using 2 Watt LEDs would save 38 watts an hour, adding up to over 330KW annually. The payback for this upgrade is usually less than a year and the greatest benefit is in the lifespan of the bulb which can last approximately 10 years. Think of all the time and effort saved in not having to replace the light bulbs in your signs year after year. Time, effort and electric savings highlight the benefit of making this small change now.

    If you have additional questions about money saving tips for your business, contact me at 216-592-2432.

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    Next up: And the Award Goes to: Announcing the 2018 Best of Tech Winners
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  • And the Award Goes to: Announcing the 2018 Best of Tech Winners

    Miss out on OHTec's #NerdOscars (also known as the Best of Tech Awards)? Read below for a summary of who took home awards this year and the reaction on Twitter.

    More than 220 tech leaders from across Northeast Ohio gathered at the Tenk West Bank to see which companies would be honored at OHTec’s 12th annual Best of Tech Awards, which recognizes the highest performing and most innovative technology companies in Greater Cleveland.

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    Winners and finalists are listed below:


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    Large Tech Company of the Year

    Award Winner: OverDrive

    Finalists: MRI Software; Park Place Technologies; MCPc

    Small Tech Company of the Year

    Award Winner: Futuri Media

    Finalists: Realeflow; Briteskies; e2b teknologies

    Tech Department of the Year

    Award Winners: n2y LLC

    Finalists: e2b teknologies; Foundation Software, Inc.; Hyland Software

    Best Tech Services Company

    Award Winner: Accellis Technology Group

    Finalists: Briteskies; Park Place Technologies; QualityIP

    Most Promising Startup

    Award Winner: Data Genomix

    Finalists: Convey, Inc.; Votem; Bezlio

    Best Software Device/Product

    Award Winner: 7SIGNAL

    Finalists: Dolbey Systems; BrandMuscle; e2b teknologies

    Best Use of Tech for Social Good

    Award Winners: Cleveland Metroparks (public entity) and n2y LLC (for-profit)

    Finalists: The Cleveland Museum of Art; Cleveland Metropolitan School District

    Best Support of the Tech Community

    Award Winner: OEC

    Finalists: Expedient; Tech Elevator; Inforce Technologies

    Twitter recap

    Missed out on this year’s show? Check below for some of the highlights of this year’s #NerdOscars!


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    Next up: API as a Business Strategy
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  • API as a Business Strategy

    API (Application Programming Interface) is not just for developers any more. While in the past APIs were considered a purely technical concept, the increasingly interconnected nature of the modern computing landscape is changing how we think and leverage them. Today, an API strategy is a key business element for technology vendors large and small. In addition to helping break down silos and accelerate delivery of internal products, APIs play a key role as a business differentiator on multiple fronts:

    API (Application Programming Interface) is not just for developers any more. While in the past APIs were considered a purely technical concept, the increasingly interconnected nature of the modern computing landscape is changing how we think and leverage them. Today, an API strategy is a key business element for technology vendors large and small. In addition to helping break down silos and accelerate delivery of internal products, APIs play a key role as a business differentiator on multiple fronts:

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    • Many corporations look to APIs as a key enabler to launch their mobile solutions. When partnering with an external mobile development vendor, standard-based, well-crafted APIs are key to rapid, successful delivery.
    • Some look at APIs as a developer-friendly, economically successful platform to increase the value of their traditional solutions by integrating them with 3rd party products in order to solve customer needs in new, innovative ways.
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    No matter the motivation, API as a business strategy is here to stay. The companies that embrace this opportunity need to position their API solutions for long term success - treating APIs as a product; engaging the third-party developers in a two-way dialog to win their hearts and minds; and external and internal marketing and advocacy are just a few examples of where the traditional thinking needs to evolve to ensure long term success. It is not always an easy task, often requiring teams to embrace a new state of mind and take a few risks in the process. But the return is more than worth the effort, opening new potential sources of revenue for many years to come.

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    Next up: Ask the Expert: Are You Ready For the EMV Revolution?
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  • Ask the Expert: Are You Ready For the EMV Revolution?

    EMV is a form of contactless payment and is now the global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards, or “chip cards.”  You might also hear EMV referred to as “chip cards,” “chip and PIN,” and “chip and signature.” The term EMV comes from the developers of this technology – Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. Some credit/debit cards already use this technology in the U.S., while other regions of the world such as Europe, China and Canada have been using it for years. EMV uses a small microprocessor that’s embedded into a credit or debit card. Banks and credit card companies want you to use them because they’re more secure than magnetic strip cards.  

    What is EMV?

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    EMV is a form of contactless payment and is now the global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards, or “chip cards.”  You might also hear EMV referred to as “chip cards,” “chip and PIN,” and “chip and signature.”

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    The term EMV comes from the developers of this technology – Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. Some credit/debit cards already use this technology in the U.S., while other regions of the world such as Europe, China and Canada have been using it for years. EMV uses a small microprocessor that’s embedded into a credit or debit card. Banks and credit card companies want you to use them because they’re more secure than magnetic strip cards.  

    How will EMV affect my business?

    Most cards in the U.S. today do not have this embedded chip. Some cards have a magnetic strip and chip, but eventually magnetic strips will go away entirely. The reason EMV is receiving so much attention is starting in October 2015, all major credit card companies — Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express — have said that if EMV capability has not been implemented on your POS terminals, the merchant will be liable for all counterfeit transactions made.

    This chargeback liability shift will not have a huge impact on merchants that have a low incidence of chargebacks today. But for merchants who are fraud targets or sell high ticket items that can be easily resold on the streets, the shift will have a much greater impact.

    If you are a Card Present environment where you are face-to-face with your customers and are swiping credit cards within a point-of-sale or terminal, or, if you accept payments both face-to-face and over the phone or Internet, the chargeback liability pertains directly to you and is vital that you begin to talk with your credit card processors and vendors now to be ready for the October changeover.  (Note: This does not mean you must be set up to accept chip payments by October 2015. There is no law or statute that will put you out of PCI compliance by not being EMV compliant.)

    If you are a Card Not Present environment where you only accept credit card payments over the phone or Internet, you do not need to worry too much about EMV, but you will want to be aware of the changes and how they could impact your business in the case of fraud in the future. 

    How can I ensure I am EMV compliant?

    EMV compliance is fairly complex, but here are four quick tips to make sure you stay compliant with the liability shift: 

    • Start early – like now. Buy devices and systems you can scale over time. 
    • Communicate with your staff so they understand the change process to ensure a smooth transition.
    • Make a list of potential suppliers, identify the questions to ask them, and choose the one that best meets your needs.  Working closely with a payment solutions provider can ensure you are up to date on any changes.
    • Create a budget – Expense will be driven by options. Choose a provider that has more than one EMV solution.

    Even though there is no legal obligation to comply with this shift, it’s still wise to do so. Your company might be able to sustain the new losses because of your increased liability—for a while. But at some point, not upgrading your EMV compliance will cost you more than upgrading. 

    BRENDAN HICKEY is director of Business to Business Solutions for Solupay Processing Solutions in Twinsburg.

    Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day. 

    This article originally appeared in the July 27, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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    Next up: Attracting and Retaining Millenials isn’t about bells and whistles…it’s about you and your culture
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  • Attracting and Retaining Millenials isn’t about bells and whistles…it’s about you and your culture

    There’s been a lot of talk about how to attract and retain millenials in 2015 and frankly, that conversation won’t be ending anytime soon. By 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce…which means it’s time to take a look in the mirror at your organization and ask yourself if you are ready to attract millenial talent. How about retaining that talent after you hire them? For the most part, that answer has been "no" from the people I work with, which led me to put together this list of tips about how to help your organization not only attract the best millenial talent but also retain it.

    There’s been a lot of talk about how to attract and retain millenials in 2015 and frankly, that conversation won’t be ending anytime soon. By 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce…which means it’s time to take a look in the mirror at your organization and ask yourself if you are ready to attract millenial talent. How about retaining that talent after you hire them? For the most part, that answer has been "no" from the people I work with, which led me to put together this list of tips about how to help your organization not only attract the best millenial talent but also retain it.

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    1. Tell the truth. What do I mean by "tell the truth?" If you tell a new hire during onboarding that your organization looks to promote from within and gives employees the training and development necessary to be successful, then do that. If you tell them you allow for flexible schedules and working from home, then let them do that. If you fail to do these things, there becomes a major trust issue with the company and the employee. Imagine if you told your kids that they can play outside after school as long as they finished their homework, and every time they finished their homework you kept telling them they weren’t allowed to go outside? They wouldn’t believe you anymore and would be pretty unhappy that they were being sold a bill of goods that they could never get.
    2. Lose control. Many folks are very scared to allow other people to take on projects and execute on them. All you are doing as a company is being dictatorial and not giving anyone a chance to make a difference. If you actually did give the project away and lost some control, this would free up your time to do what you are best at as the owner/CEO/VP of your organization. It also gives the person running that project the ability to show you they are ready to make an impact for you and your customers. Let it happen; it’s very freeing! Millenials want to make a difference and feel like they are making an impact.
    3. Show your face. Step out of your office once in a while and go have a chat with people at your company. This isn’t a novel idea, but it seems that people have forgotten what it’s like to just say thank you or ask about someone else's weekend plans. Millenials need a hug once in a while and it could be as simple as remembering the name of their son or daughter or that they are huge fans of whatever football team they watch every Sunday.
    4. Consistency. Lastly, be consistent and intentional with your emphasis on an open environment that breeds creativity and autonomy. The minute you stop doing that, all of the trust you built with your crew is gone. They won’t believe you anymore, destroying the utopia you’ve been working to build over the years.

    Millenials want to believe and work towards something that is bigger than them. In order to attract them, you need to have your culture in order and it has to be from the top down. The old order was step in line, like a manufacturing organization - keep your head down and you’ll be rewarded in 30 years with a pension and lovely retirement. Those days are over and if you aren’t willing to take a long look at what you’re currently doing, then you’ll never be able to retain the best talent. If that occurs, you only have yourself to blame for not making the changes to grow your company through your people.

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