In Akron: “City hall is listening to small businesses, neighborhood groups and outside experts.”

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“The mayor felt very strongly we needed to get back to fundamentals. The first component is we need to get people living in the city. It creates a market for business and retail. We need to spend more bandwidth and capital to make the city more attractive to small businesses.”

It’s another in a series of glances at alternative modes of revitalization differing from Top Down Anchor Bound Gahanism — but rejoice, corporate donors, because the mayor’s perpetual re-election campaign now can pull your monthly tithes directly from your offshore bank accounts.

Call BR-549 for complete details.

Don’t forget today’s other post on this topic: A Sunday morning ON THE AVENUES encore: Upscale residency at down-low prices.

How One Local Government is Encouraging Urban Revitalization (Strong Towns)

Harlan Spector is a writer based in Northeast Ohio sharing today’s guest article about how the local government in Akron is taking steps to encourage urban revitalization.

Building a local economy from the bottom up — nurturing small business growth and drawing people from the suburbs — is seen as a necessary strategy for older industrial cities like Akron to prosper.

In hopes of prodding investment, the mayor in his 2018 State of the City address announced creation of the Office of Integrated Development, designed to streamline the way the city manages economic development. He also launched a “Great Streets” program to boost city neighborhood business districts. The initiative provides grants and loans to 10 neighborhoods for small-business development. The city has also pursued zoning changes to help business districts such as Kenmore Boulevard and has enacted a 15-year real estate tax abatement for new housing construction and renovations

Horrigan’s economic agenda represents a shift from former Mayor Don Plusquellic, who ran the city for nearly 30 years until 2015. After rubber manufacturing disappeared from Akron, Plusquellic made attempts to revitalize the city’s economy and save Akron from the fate of some older industrial cities in Ohio. His downtown development strategy focused on a minor league baseball park and deals with large companies such as Bridgestone Americas Inc.

A report in 2016 by the Greater Ohio Policy Center, however, found Akron experiencing a troubling decline in economic health. Neighborhoods suffer from foreclosures and population loss. The study, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, urged the city to promote public-private investments, downtown development and expanded housing to attract new residents.

“The mayor felt very strongly we needed to get back to fundamentals,” said Jason Segedy, director of planning and urban development. “The first component is we need to get people living in the city. It creates a market for business and retail. We need to spend more bandwidth and capital to make the city more attractive to small businesses.”

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Many of Horrigan’s initiatives are too new to demonstrate results, but observers say the city is making progress with a host of downtown and neighborhood development initiatives. People say city hall is listening to small businesses, neighborhood groups and outside experts.

“Mayor Horrigan has surrounded himself with people who talk about what we can do, and how we can do things differently,” said developer Joel Testa, whose company is converting a vacant 19-story downtown hotel into apartments.

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