Building blocks for 50 blocks: University Park in Akron

To thrive in the increasingly competitive global economy, cities, or regions, must attract talent, leading to networks and a vibrancy that spurs ideas, innovations and growth. For a Boston, or New York, or a San Francisco Bay area, that is relatively easy.


What matters isn’t size so much as distinctiveness, achieving a unique and authentic sense of place. That is the thinking behind such efforts as the biomedical corridor, the Austen BioInnovation Institute, the University of Akron Research Foundation and Mayor Don Plusquellic seeking to lure foreign investment to the city. The idea drives regional clusters around flexible electronic materials and advanced energy.

Of all these endeavors, none is more refreshing in its big ambition than the University Park Alliance, led by Eric Anthony Johnson, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Here is a most challenging bid to remake 50 blocks at the core of the city, leveraging the presence of leading employers to achieve new energy, in revived housing, retail, entertainment and business. And last week, the alliance scored a triumph, adding a most impressive partner, KUD, the highly respected international real estate development firm.

Read more in the Akron Beacon Journal

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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