Akron seeks title as Innovation Hub

March 09, 2010

Akron could earn the distinction of being named one of the state's Hubs of Innovation, complete with $250,000 in cash to help the city keep the innovation momentum going.

Akron City Council passed legislation Monday which authorizes the city to apply to the Ohio Department of Development for the grant and to be designated as one of eight Ohio Hubs of Innovation and Opportunity.

The Ohio Hubs program supports regional economic development initiatives - like Akron's Biomedical Corridor - in urban centers throughout the state to accomplish three major goals:

•propel innovation through cutting-edge, market-driven applied technology and knowledge spillover;

•foster job creation and retention; and

•form new companies while helping existing companies retain their competitive advantage.

"This is a wonderful opportunity we have as a city for existing businesses to grow," said Council's Economic Development and Job Creation Committee Chair Linda Omobien. "This presents a wonderful way to continue the ongoing health and medical research and development and to commercialize the things we are developing."

Omobien (At Large) said if awarded, the grant funds would especially target efforts to train and retain skilled professionals to further the mission and objectives of the Biomedical Corridor.

"This legislation presents a way for us to continue to create jobs, especially in the Biomedical Corridor, instead of farming them off to another city," Omobien said. "The grant money would target opportunities for training and education.

"We want to make sure we have a ready work force to further the cutting-edge health and medical research and development activity that has begun here."

No matching funds from the city are required, but Akron is planning to provide non-cash, in-kind support for the activities within the Innovation Hub. Further, Omobien said, the city has the support of 10 partners - including a number within the private sector - who have submitted letters of support for the application, due March 15.

The Ohio Department of Development named the state's first Innovation Hub in Dayton, recognizing it for its investments and research in aerospace and aviation.