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Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability



LIGHTS provides expertise, training and resources to the regional workforce, entrepreneurs, companies and local communities. LIGHTS is for individuals, that live or work in the 28-county territory, interested in building a product and/or creating a business. LIGHTS partners with various regional hubs and gateways that give our team the ability to make your ideas happen. Contact us today to start your journey with LIGHTS! 





LIGHTS can provide you with the resources that you need to make your ideas happen. The LIGHTS program has partners across the tristate region that will work collaboratively to provide expertise, training and resources to the regional workforce, entrepreneurs, companies and local communities. LIGHTS Innovation Hubs are located in Athens and Zanesville with several Gateways positioned throughout the region in Athens, Somerset, Portsmouth, South Point, and Nelsonville. The Hubs provide facilities, equipment, and engineering/design expertise to support emerging solutions and products in a wide range of industry sectors most centered on advanced manufacturing opportunities. The Gateways introduce makers and innovators to the existing and growing Innovation Ecosystem and provide opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed to participate where they live -- right in their backyard. 




Mission Statement

LIGHTS will create companies, high-wage jobs, and greater private investment in the coal-impacted project region by matching complex problems and opportunities facing corporations, communities and individuals to a network of two strategically-placed Innovation Hubs and five Gateways. 

LIGHTS Clients


Do you live in our 28-county region? 

Kentucky Counties: 



West Virginia Counties:


Ohio Counties: 







Do you have an idea for a product? 

If your answer is YES to the questions above, you are the perfect client for the LIGHTS program. 



We help you create new products and realize your actual value proposition, explore commercial viability of your product or just build something new. The LIGHTS program and partners will provide you with expertise, facilities and equipment to help you reduce your time and costs in taking your product to market. 



LIGHTS Jennifer Simon

 Executive Director for Regional Innovation 



Ms. Simon became the Executive Director of Regional Innovation in October 2016 after serving as the Director of the Ohio University Innovation Center (IC) since March 2009. During that time, the incubator client base increased from 3 to 25. She raised over $4 million in grants expanding services and facility improvements. Ms. Simon led efforts to provide nearly $1 million in shared Biotechnology Research & Development equipment. She facilitates client access to capital through angels, venture capital, and traditional lending institutions.

Prior to the IC, Ms. Simon was the President of the Athens County Economic Development Council and held the position of Athens Area Chamber of Commerce CEO. Prior to these positions, as the Assistant Director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia, she managed over $60 million in grants. 
She holds a BA in Political Science, an MA in Public Administration and an MBA from Ohio University.

Ms. Simon resides in Athens, Ohio with her husband, David.



Ariana Ulloa-Olavarrieta

Executive Coach



Ariana Ulloa-Olavarrieta is the Executive Coach for the Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability (LIGHTS) program. Prior to her role with LIGHTS, Ulloa-Olavarrieta was the District Director, Interim Director, and the Ohio SBDC Latino Program Director at Columbus State Community College (Ohio SBDC) which serves the business community by providing business assistance for Franklin and the eight contiguous counties. The Ohio SBDC is an award winning center which offers clients the confidential advising services, management training and technical assistance of the Core SBDC and those of programs specializing in manufacturing and technology, international trade and Latino owned businesses.

Ulloa-Olavarrieta has served the New Direction Career Center as a board member and treasurer, as well as the Hispanic Chamber of Columbus as board treasurer. Currently, she serves on the MidOhio Food Bank board and the ACEnet board. Ulloa-Olavarrieta is also a small business owner; launching Bébo Naturals, an organic baby food company in 2010. Community service has always been tremendously important to Ulloa-Olavarrieta. She has been a United Way volunteer, Junior Achievement teacher, Women’s Fund volunteer, taught English as a second language and is currently on the scholarship committee for the Fund for Appalachian Ohio. A graduate of Ohio University, she holds a Masters in Financial Economics as well as a BA in Economics with specializations in Latin American Studies, Spanish and German. Born in Mexico City, Ulloa-Olavarrieta immigrated to the United States when she was 5 years old. Currently, she lives in the Columbus area with her husband and two children.



Nathan Berger

Engineering and Design Expert



Nathaniel Berger is the Engineering and Design Expert for the Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability (LIGHTS) program. Previously, Berger was the Operations Coordinator of the CREATE_space, a University resource focusing on Creative Research Exploring Arts, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. Nathaniel’s experience in fine arts and information technology has been ongoing for close to two decades, spanning his lower and higher educational endeavors. He has worked in the digital arena since 1997, producing both interactive and static media including, graphic design, and website design. Nathaniel holds a BFA in Art History from Ohio University and an MA in Digital Visual Communication.

Specializing in interactive digital technologies research, he has worked extensively with businesses, artists, entrepreneurs, students and educators developing objective specific solutions that both demonstrate the IT-centric and humanistic qualitative aspects of society. His solutions focusing on game design, and content creation development have been hosted nationally, with sponsorship from such organizations as the Information Technology Association of Appalachian Ohio, the International Game Developers Association, Games for Health, and Google’s 2nd Android Developer Challenge.



Abena Agyei-Boateng

PR Specialist 



Abena Agyei-Boateng graduated from West Potomac High school in 2011 and then went back to her home country, in West Africa Ghana, to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Political science and English, at the University of Ghana, Legon from which she graduated in 2015. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Communication and Development from Ohio University. Abena started working with the LIGHTS team as a Graduate assistant in October 2016 and among many other tasks, she handles the implementation social media, scheduling and strategic marketing of LIGHTS. 



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