Building a Vibrant Northeast Ohio Economy

The Center for Free Enterprise is back to in-person events! Watch the video recap of our November event.

Details below:

Our season opener was well-attended, safe, and an all-around success. Our second event was moderated by CFE Co-founder Ben Calkins of the Calkins Law Firm, Ltd. The panel includes:

  • Bill Koehler
  • Todd Federman
  • PJ.R. Campbell
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About Ben Calkins

Ben Calkins is an honors graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School. His “new model” law firm, The Calkins Law Firm, Ltd. is a premier boutique law firm that specializes in business law and focuses on business transactions and business disputes. He maintains a perfect 10 “Superb” rating from Avvo.com and was presented the Client Distinction Award by Martindale Hubbell. Ben is the former President of both the Harvard Club of Northeast Ohio and Ohio Venture Association. Mr. Calkins co-founded the North Coast Angel Fund, one of the largest angel funds in America, as well as the Center for Free Enterprise.

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About Bill Koehler

As Chief Executive Officer of Team NEO, Bill Koehler is focused on seeing the Northeast Ohio Region grow and thrive. He’s a collaborative economic development advocate and business leader working to create economic vibrancy in Northeast Ohio by advancing understanding of the talent gap, enhancing site preparedness, building supply chain resilience, accelerating the impact of innovation, and promoting the region as a business destination.

Leveraging more than 25 years’ experience in corporate financial services, for-profit board and private company investor roles, and education-focused not-for-profit boards and commitees, Bill engages the economic development network to create coordinated, regional business development strategies to atract new business and help current Northeast Ohio companies grow.

Under Bill’s leadership, Team NEO has a track record of exceeding performance metrics for completed business investment projects in the Northeast Ohio Region. Team NEO has worked on 627 projects that will generate more than 46,000 new jobs, $2.4B in annual payroll and $11.6B in capital investments, related to Jobs Ohio’s financial incentive programs, since 2015.

Prior to joining Team NEO, Bill served as President of Key Community Bank, where he led 9,000 employees across 14 states. During his banking career, Bill worked with private and public middle market companies. He earned a Master of Business Administration in Accounting and Finance from Columbia University’s Business School and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University.

Bill serves on a number of education-related, non-profit boards and committees including College Now of Greater Cleveland, Friends of Breakthrough Charter Schools, Urban Community School, and is the former Board Chair of St. Ignatius High School. His accolades include the Northeast Ohio Smart Business Smart 50 Awards and Crain’s Power 150, recognizing the most influential leaders positioned to move the Northeast Ohio Region forward.

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About Todd Federman

Todd Federman is the Managing Director of North Coast Ventures. North Coast has seven funds comprised of over 400 of the region’s leading investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders – making it the largest, group of its kind. North Coast and its investors have deployed nearly $100M of capital in over 75 early-stage companies since 2007. Prior to joining North Coast, Todd served as a technology strategy consultant for DiamondCluster and AOL. Previously, he launched a consumer packaged goods company, One With Nature which is available in 4,000 retail locations. Todd is a member of YPO and an alumni of Leadership Cleveland’s class of 2015. Todd holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Kent State University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

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About J.R. Campbell

J.R. Campbell is helping to cultivate the Design Innovation Initiative at Kent State University to support design thinking, project-based learning, technology-infused maker communities and the curation of cross-disciplinary collaborative teams to tackle “wicked” problems. Students and faculty from every discipline are encouraged to participate in this intersectional engine for the university. By August 2020, the initiative will be housed in the “Design Innovation Hub” through the renovation of the old Art Building at the center of the Kent Campus.

Campbell’s first degree was a Bachelor of Science in environmental design (1994), followed by a Master of Fine Arts in textile arts and costume design (1996), both from the University of California, Davis. He then taught textiles, computer-aided fashion design and color theory in San Francisco before being appointed assistant professor in the Department of Textiles and Clothing at Iowa State University in 1998. He was tenured and promoted to associate professor there in 2004. In July 2005, he moved to Scotland to become “Research Fellow” at the Centre for Advanced Textiles at the Glasgow School of Art, where he directed research for the Centre, located in the School of Design. While in Glasgow, Campbell completed a postgraduate certificate (PGCert) course in supervising postgraduate (doctoral) research degrees for professionals in art, design and communication from the Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and Design at University of the Arts London, which was granted in November 2006. He has been a visiting scholar and conducted workshops at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology in China and the Auckland University of Technology’s Textile Design Laboratory in New Zealand. Campbell came to Kent State University to start his position as professor and director of The Fashion School in July 2009. He stepped away from this role in July 2018 to take on the role of executive director for the Design Innovation Initiative.

Campbell has been researching, designing and creating artwork with digital textile/imaging technologies for more than 25 years. His work pushes the limits of imaging technologies as they relate to clothing, our environment and the human form. Campbell’s art/design work has been shown in more than 80 national or international exhibitions, receiving 20 awards, including the International Artist of the Year Award for the South Korean Fashion & Culture Association in 2010. Campbell has consulted for a number of academic institutions as they have integrated the technology into their teaching/research labs, and has published on subjects of design methods/issues, controlling color and integrating the technology into the design process for textiles and apparel.

At Kent State, Campbell launched his TechStyleLAB (TSLAB) concept in The Fashion School in 2009. The TSLAB functions as a research, teaching and commercial environment to investigate the broadest range of digital textile and fashion design technologies and their implications for new product concepts, business development and sustainable practices. It has become an integrated component of the successful school’s experiential learning environments. Campbell has also been a champion for building study-away programs for students in the fashion school and across the university. He has served as the university’s representative to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and, in 2014, partnered with KSU LaunchNET to pioneer the largest national, annual college-based “Fashion/Tech Hackathon,” a competitive, team-based event that has hosted more than 150 students from 30+ universities for each of the last five years.

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