Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has seen the passion and dedication of people from all walks of life in the city of Akron during his first seven months in office.
“The energy in the city shows there is a desire for change with a growing momentum toward collaboration and innovation with our residents, business leaders and stakeholders,” Horrigan says. “Looking ahead to the next few years, I am confident that the research, strategies and programming currently being developed will help us move forward to make downtown Akron a true neighborhood for residents seeking the attractions provided by urban living.”
Horrigan also believes Akron can become “a destination place for visitors from our surrounding neighborhoods, other regions and states.”
Horrigan will have an opportunity to share his thoughts on the Akron-Canton region next month when he serves as keynote speaker at the 2016 Cascade Capital Corp. Business Growth Awards. The annual event will take place Oct. 4 at the John S. Knight Center in Akron.
Among the city’s business highlights thus far in 2016 is the announcement of plans for a new Akron campus for Stark State College.
“I believe Stark State will be transformational,” Horrigan says. “We can now begin to address the skills gap that has been present in our community and can work towards education equity. Accessible and affordable skills training that meets the needs of area businesses makes Stark State a great fit for our community; and a great stepping stone for students, both traditional and non-traditional, to prepare for their leap to one of the four-year colleges in our area.”
This is the 22nd year for the Cascade Capital awards program, which has had a positive impact on businesses in the Akron-Canton region.
“As Award winners grow their sales base, new employee hires result, plus these companies purchase goods and services from area businesses,” says Robert C. Filipiak, executive director at Cascade Capital Corp. “Though I can’t provide specific figures for this area, between 70 percent and 75 percent of all new jobs nationwide are created by small businesses. In this way, area/regional small businesses represent a major economic development engine.”
While there are a lot of good things going on in Akron, Horrigan acknowledges there are also a number of challenges that lie ahead.
“Neighborhood disparities continue to plague cities across the region as individuals and families choose to move to the suburbs for a variety of reasons,” Horrigan says. “My belief is that creating a booming downtown neighborhood will align well with creating and encouraging positive movement in our neighborhoods. We need to also look at ways to assist neighborhoods by giving them the tools to increase citizen involvement and boost the development of neighborhood business districts.”
Horrigan is hopeful programs like the city’s Lots for a Little program will also make a difference.
“We’re encouraging urban gardens and beautification programs that will help make city living more attractive and inviting to a variety of homeowners,” he says. ●
How to reach: Cascade Capital Corp., (330) 379-3160 or www.cascadecapital.org