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.

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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
Faith KnutsenDirector 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.
Nathaniel Berger
Nathaniel BergerDirector
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.
Erin Rennich
Erin RennichSenior Executive Coach and Strategic Advisor for SEE & Director of the Sugar Bush Foundation
Erin currently holds two key appointments at Ohio University that support the region’s economic development efforts. As a Senior Executive Coach and Strategic Advisor with the Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE), a program supported by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Erin provides critical business advisory services to mission-based entities. Erin also serves as the Director of the Sugar Bush Foundation, a supporting entity of the Ohio University Foundation that funds collaborative University and community engagements for the betterment of the people, the economy, and the environment in Appalachian Ohio.
Amanda White
Amanda WhiteRegional 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.