Mayor Horrigan Announces New Office Of Integrated Development And Launches Great Streets Akron Initiative To Lift Up Neighborhood Business DistrictsWednesday February 28, 2018
Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan delivered his 2018 State of the City Address at the John S. Knight Center, to a crowd of 900 business, community, and neighborhood leaders. In the speech, available here, he outlined his four-part plan for Akron as a thriving and adaptive city. “Thriving cities are financially stable; benefit from density and connectivity; invest in their people; and have growing, entrepreneurial economies,” Mayor Horrigan summarized.
Mayor Horrigan announced two major policy decisions related to improving economic vitality and neighborhood density: the creation of the Office of Integrated Development, and the launching of the Great Streets Akron initiative, both designed to better focus the City’s human and financial capital to generate greater community impact.
The Akron Growth Council has been meeting over the past year to evaluate the role of city government in economic development and advise the Mayor on ways to promote a prosperous and inclusive local economy. Out of those efforts it became clear that, in order for the city to provide meaningful economic leadership in the community, the City’s internal structure needed to change. “If we want to improve outcomes, we can no longer silo community development from economic development from the practical engineering that makes projects work,” Mayor Horrigan said.
The new Office of Integrated Development will reorganize the way the City engages with both business and community development. It will bring together the existing departments and staff of Planning, Economic Development, and elements of the Engineering Bureau, under a single strategic vision. James Hardy, Chief of Staff, will lead this new office as the city’s first Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development.
“To our business, neighborhood, and community leaders: expect to see a difference in the way we engage and respond,” Mayor Horrigan said of the new office. “By uniting these important functions in one office, our plan is to be more transparent, more accessible, and better prepared to work alongside you in building this great city.”
One of the first initiatives of the Office of Integrated Development is Great Streets Akron.
Great Streets Akron—modeled after similar initiatives in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.—will strategically target existing City resources and partnerships to make long-term investments in neighborhood business districts throughout Akron. Great Streets will concentrate planning and economic resources on an initial selection of ten districts located throughout the city, as detailed in the fact sheet available here.
“These districts serve as the geographic hubs of our neighborhoods,” Mayor Horrigan remarked. “Many were once small downtowns with bustling streets and active storefronts. They were more than roads; and these districts must return to being the center of public life for the neighborhood. We will accomplish that by targeting resources in support of commercial and social revitalization of each corridor and activating the street as a public space.”
Over the next few months, the City of Akron will begin to engage residents and businesses to determine each neighborhood’s vision for their business district.
“I invite neighborhood, civic, and business leaders to join the Great Streets Akron movement,” Mayor Horrigan added. “I look forward to working with you to design vibrant districts that will once again become the backbone of our neighborhoods.”