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Ohio Northern Art & Design graduate earns Small Business of the Year Award

May—Michelle Sterling (BFA/graphic design ’96), owner and president of Sign Pro Imaging Inc. in Lima, Ohio, earned the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year Award. The 12th annual Awards Gala was held Wednesday, May 7 at the University of Northwestern Ohio’s Event Center.

When Michelle gave her thank-yous Wednesday, she hit on an important point: Small businesses support each other. “I really appreciate the business we get from all of you folks here,” Michelle said. “Thanks to all of you.”

Michelle helped open Sign Pro in 1996 upon graduating from Ohio Northern University. Her degrees in graphic design and business marketing proved beneficial when she purchased the business in 1999. In 2004 she led Sign Pro through a major expansion, including adding 1,000 sq. ft. to their shop, several wide format printers, a hot laminator, a design room with 3 new design stations along with many other updates.

The sign, design, printing and promotional product business employs five people. In 2011, Michelle moved to a new location on Brower Road and now owns the larger building, along with multiple rental spaces. The business has also expanded into promotional products and wedding invitations and products, and it will soon add a new wide-format printer.

Sign Pro Imaging is the Lima-area leader in transforming concepts into reality. The creative staff works with clients to select the most appropriate materials to best serve communication needs. The state of the art digital printing technology allows the company to print to any surface, from simple papers and vinyl to high-end fabrics and wall coverings.

Michelle’s dedication to bringing the latest technology to the Lima area and 18 years of experience in every aspect of the sign business keeps Sign Pro moving forward in the industry.

Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second and third editions of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2013–14 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.