Creative Solutions to Develop New Products, Community Assets, and Businesses

Ohio University's Innovation Center founded the LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network (LIGHTS) to catalyze the creation of companies creating high-wage jobs, and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The Appalachian Regional Commission funded the program in 2016 to provide direct entrepreneurial assistance to startups; assist communities in deploying their own makerspaces and business incubators; and convene, facilitate, and mentor regionally-led entrepreneurial ecosystems. In 2019 Shawnee State University expanded the program with the LIGHTS-INC (Inclusive) initiative, helping support post-recovery-to-employment opportunities through entrepreneurship and workforce services with partnerships among recovery service providers, entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders, and workforce professionals. Today, the LIGHTS hosts 10 Innovation Gateways delivering entrepreneurial and workforce development programs across 26 counties and 3 states. 

See who we serve.

Our People

Get to Know Us

At the LIGHTS, we have an exceptional team of consultants with expertise in various areas.
Meet some of our passionate and talented professionals right here.


Faith Knutsen

Director of Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship 

Faith Knutsen directs the Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE) and LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network projects, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Faith lectures on entrepreneurship and venture development and aids in regional K-12 and college pitch competitions, and has worked for 12 years in an executive role at Sunpower, Inc.

Ariana Ulloa-Olavarrieta

Executive Coach

Ariana specializes in consulting with new and small businesses. With 15 years of experience in running her own business and helping other entrepreneurs, Ariana has a talent for spotting marketplace holes waiting to be filled. Let Ariana shape your company’s future.

Amanda White

Regional Network Coordinator

Amanda (Mandy) has a rich background in zoning, permitting, grant writing as well as tackling infrastructure challenges in Appalachia, Mandy brings a commitment to scalable, sustainable development in our region.

Nathaniel Berger

Associate Director

Need outside-the-box insights and solutions to develop your community, business, or product? With more than 15 years in product prototyping and development, launching makerspaces, and supporting entrepreneurhsip we promise you won’t be disappointed.

LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network

(740) 593-2439

Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Affairs
Circle Drive, The Ridges, Athens OH 45701

©2020 by LIGHTS Regional Innovation.