October 28, 2014 by Kyle Kutuchief
Taste of Akron at Hardesty Park, July 24, 2014. Photo by Flickr user Tim Fitzwater.
The Knight Cities Challenge offers applicants a chance to share in $5 million by focusing on the question, “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?” The challenge will test the most innovative ideas in attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity and promoting civic engagement in one or more of 26 Knight Foundation communities, including Akron, the city where Knight was founded.
Akron is full of creative people who are passionate about the continued comeback of our city. The open nature of the Knight Cities Challenge has empowered a diverse range of people to develop new solutions to our community’s challenges. The best moments in the meetings Knight’s Akron Program Director Josh McManus and I have been convening across the community usually start with, “I’m not sure if this is a crazy idea, but…”
In Akron’s North Hill, we met immigrants starting new businesses, eager to connect their fellow refugees to their new home, and full of ideas aimed at weaving their cultural heritage into the broader fabric of the community. Meetings with leaders at ASIA Inc. and the International Institute of Akron have reminded us of Akron’s increasing cultural diversity and the opportunity to tap into their talents. Applications for the Knight Cities Challenge must be submitted in English, but in an effort to make the challenge more accessible to all Akronites, we have translated the promotional flier into Burmese, Karen, Mon, Nepali and Spanish. Please contact me if you would like the translated documents.
November 16, 2018 by Kyle Kutuchief
Akron is growing. That is a phrase we haven’t been able to say since the 1960’s when population peaked at 292,000. Since then, the city has lost roughly one-third of its population. Yet Akron grew by 135 people in 2015, according to the most recent Census estimate. It’s not a lot – you could line them up, count them, pose for a group picture. But we believe it’s a key sign of what will come, a turning of the tide for a city that has struggled for decades to reverse the forces of decline.
February 17, 2016 by Kyle Kutuchief
Above photo by Micolo J on Flickr.
Who wakes up every day thinking about the 62.4? Jack Knight did. I do too. For the first time in 28 years, we have a new mayor and a new administration doing the same. 62.4 is the size of the city of Akron in square miles. This piece of real estate, which gave birth to Knight Foundation, is the focus of a new report on the city’s economic health and competitiveness released today by the Greater Ohio Policy Center .
The center’s report, which was funded by Knight Foundation, complements recent findings from a task force appointed by Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan. Over a 90-day period, a committee of 12 community leaders looked into the city’s operations and provided a high-level overview of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While the mayor’s task force provided a physical exam revealing the city’s ailments, the Policy Center’s report is the first of many in-depth tests that help us better understand the scope of the city’s challenges. This report will also help us develop a plan to get better.
Most of the economic development data shared in our community is collected and compared at the county level. This is convenient for regional and statewide leaders, but the success of the suburbs in Summit County tends to mask the challenges of Akron, the county seat. In addition, we have lacked a sense of urgency because Akron has managed decline better than neighboring cities. The “62.4 Report” provides clear information that allows us to move beyond that. It shows Akron’s underperformance in recent years and highlights troubling trends that could negatively affect the city over the long term.
Akron. Photo via Greater Ohio Policy Center.
With Knight support, the Greater Ohio Policy Center compiled key economic indicators at the city level. Using those findings, the center benchmarked Akron against five cities based on their “size, similar histories of population loss and economic decline, and more recent trajectories of growth and regeneration.” The report examines each city’s decline from 1960 to 2000 and then its recovery from 2000 to 2013.
December 7, 2013 by Kyle Kutuchief
Torchbearers, a group that develops leadership among young professionals in Greater Akron, Ohio, is piloting two talent attraction and retention programs with support from Knight Foundation. Below, Torchbearers Vice President Kyle Kutuchief writes about the new programs. Above: A Torchbearers mentoring session. Photo credit: Kyle Kutuchief.
In a job market where competition for talent is so high, it is critical that internships and job interviews showcase more than just an employment opportunity. The experience must include a meaningful connection to new people and the community where candidates can live, play and build a wonderful life. In Akron, this is becoming a part of our strategy for talent attraction and retention. It’s why Torchbearers Akron is launching two programs focused on creating uniquely positive experiences for interns and employment candidates.