Barbara Aras knows a thing or two about making a business idea work - or not work. That's her job.

As the chief executive officer of Main Street Ventures, the 50-year-old businesswoman makes it her mission and the focus of her organization helping businesses succeed.

Main Street Ventures began operations in December 1999 at the corner of Main and Jackson streets in Over-the-Rhine. According to Aras, it was the first technology-related venture in an area that would later become known as the "Digital Rhine." In its relatively short life span, the technology business incubator - or "business accelerator," as Aras refers to it - has had several success stories: Planet Feedback, which is now part of Intelliseek, plus Atomic Dog Publishing and Adgility, just to name a few.

Aras is a University of Dayton Law School graduate and former Miami County deputy prosecutor. That beginning led to opportunities in the business world and several top level jobs.

After working seven years in the legal community, Aras left to head the public records division of research mega-giant Lexis Nexis in Dayton. From there she headed to Ohio Casualty Corporation where she spearheaded more than $420 million worth of business integrations into the insurance company's $1.4 billion commercial business lines. She also worked for technology companies in the Greater Cincinati area.

Since 2001, Aras has been sharing her experiences with startup businesses at Main Street.

"This is what we do all day long," says Aras, from the business accelerator's fourth-floor offices overlooking the Over-the-Rhine Main Street entertainment district. "We talk to businesses and find their pain points and work with them for solution to meet their business trends."

Aras sees herself as part advisor, part champion to the 11 businesses she harbors plus the many others to which she consults. She is also a seeker of ways to make the businesses at Main Street grow as fast and as successfully as possible. Legal advice, accounting expertise, lending experts and other support services are just part of what is offered.

"We make sure we help to get to the entrepreneurs to the right resources depending on what their business need is," Aras says.

There is no limit on the amount of time a business should or can stay at Main Street. Some have come and gone in six weeks, while others have stayed for three years, Aras points out.

Pete Blackshaw is now the CEO of Over-the-Rhine's Intelliseek. His company PlanetFeedback started inside Main Street Ventures and later merged with Intelliseek. Main Street Ventures gave Blackshaw's company its first home.

"In the early stages they were very, very important," Blackshaw observes. "For me personally, it was important that there was heart and passion in the local community.

He also learned from Aras "there is a danger to spending too much money too soon. For one thing, cash is everything. For number two, if you're taking money from others, that can be constraining. If you can, learn on the cheap, grow slow."