Editor’s Note: Once you call someplace home, there’s no place like it

For many folks, there’s something about Northeast Ohio that can’t be replicated by any other place in the U.S. Northeast Ohio is home. That makes the area unique to so many who have left to explore opportunities elsewhere only to return, and for those who go to great lengths to make their hometown a wonderful place to work and live.

Para M. Jones, president of Stark State College and the subject of this month’s cover story, is a boomerang resident. She was born in Canton and spent 22 years at Stark State, working her way up to vice president before leaving to become president of Spartanburg Community College in South Carolina.

But something brought her back. As she told me in our interview, “I had a wonderful opportunity, wonderful college, wonderful students, wonderful team, but when this presidency (at Stark State) opened, I was very drawn to come back to Northeast Ohio, and of course the college where I had spent so much time and invested so much and where I really believed in the mission, understood the students and really wanted to be leading in workforce and economic development.”

Dave Michelson, president and CEO of the Richfield-based National Interstate Corp., is also looking to build up the region’s workforce. He was audibly excited about what Northeast Ohio has to offer job candidates when we talked in preparation for this month’s feature.

Michelson divulged how he actively promotes his company and the region, saying, “Northeast Ohio, in my view, is a great place to have a company. It’s a great place to raise a family. Between having access to wonderful public school systems, an abundance of private schools, lots of upper level education here in Northeast Ohio and throughout Ohio, the park system, the arts, the sports teams …

“If you can get by the cloudy weather that exists here, this is a great place to have home offices and raise a family.”

Building on the idea of growth in the region, one of this month’s columnists, Akron’s Mayor Don Plusquellic, highlights the achievements and proliferation of the Akron Global Business Accelerator, noting that it has been the longest running and top-performing incubator in Ohio based upon investment, client revenues and job creation.

Both Jones and another one of this month’s columnists, Luis M. Proenza, president of the University of Akron, talk about how institutions of higher learning are fostering growth in the region by partnering with local businesses to help them succeed in the market.

Outside of the realm of business, this month’s issue also highlights the Kent State University Museum and the Tuesday Musical Association. Both organizations hint at the diverse interest of our communities and how the region has much to offer its residents beyond economic opportunities.

The message is clear from those living and working in the region I’ve talked with this month — Northeast Ohio is a great place to stay, or even come back to.

Adam Burroughs is assistant managing editor & digital managing editor at Smart Business. He writes for Smart Business Akron/Canton and is interested in the people and businesses making a difference in the Akron/Canton area. Reach him at (440) 250-7062 or [email protected].

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