The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced grants totaling more than $1.8 million to thirteen organizations in Akron, Ohio, for projects aimed at attracting and keeping talented people in the city and expanding economic opportunity there.
The grants will address the Northeast Ohio city's steady population decline by focusing on quality-of-life improvements designed to attract and retain talent while providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals to pursue fresh ideas. Grant recipients include the Akron Development Corp., which was awarded $25,000 in support of planning and research at the new Bits and Atoms Innovation Center, a maker and product commercialization space in downtown Akron; Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which will receive $150,000 to restore a baggage car for use in expanding a railway bicycle program; Greater Akron Amenities, which was awarded $75,000 to study and assess the city’s economic challenges and potential for growth; and the Ohio & Erie Canalway, which will receive $249,900 in support of a planning process aimed at increasing public use of the Ohio & Erie Canalway towpath trail in downtown Akron.
"The projects receiving funding will help strengthen Akron's future; each carries with it a vital ingredient for city success," said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. "They will strengthen Akron's community of civic innovators, who are creating incentives for young talent to stay and build roots in Akron and providing people of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to pursue their ideas and contribute."