Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

As national spotlight shifts to jobs, Akron well positioned for growth

Sept. 1, 2011, 12:34 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

Eric A. Johnson

Eric Johnson has been executive director of University Park Alliance since July 2010

After only one year on the job, University Park Alliance’s executive director, Eric Johnson, is emerging as an Akron leader with a vision. 

His op-ed article in the Akron Beacon Journal offers insight into the promising future of Akron and the strength behind an engaged community:

"Future real estate development will take place in communities that show patterns of stability over time as a result of solid growth strategies and coordinated leadership. In other words: Investors are looking for pockets of stability, where steady progress can be demonstrated and a commitment to implementation exists.

"With this as the metric, Akron is exceptionally well-positioned for continued growth. Lest anyone doubt this, let me point to a recent conference titled “Reinventing America’s Legacy Cities.” Held in Detroit, the conversation focused on the nation’s most troubled cities. And guess what? Akron is not on the list of legacy cities. We’re beyond that.

...

"These are among the reasons Akron is so well-positioned for future real estate investment. You can already see renovation in our downtown area, which is an outgrowth of strategic planning and leadership that is continuing.

"Now our task is to stick to the work ahead. And that brings up another takeaway from my time at Harvard: Urban redevelopment is an ongoing process of adjustment and adaptation.

"In Akron, the steady-as-she-goes approach describes a deeply embedded civic culture. Our job at University Park Alliance is to send that message strongly to investors — that if volatility makes them nervous, they should come here. We possess plenty of opportunity for smart real estate investment."