Greater akron economic development Guide

Affluence and Affordability

Residents savor strong quality of life

Akron’s liquid crystal cluster spurs job growth

Crystallizing Research

Visit the many animals at the Akron Zoo in a quick video.

What’s Online

University leads national efforts in polymer research
SPOnSORed by the GReAteR AkROn ChAmbeR | 2011

Polymer Pioneer

Greater akron economic development Guide

the Science of Akron
Akron’s Biomedical Corridor earns the city global recognition, respect.

20 24 28 32 40 50

entrepreneurial engine
Global Business Accelerator propels Akron economy.

Polymer Pioneer
University leads national efforts in polymer research.

Crystallizing Research
Akron’s liquid crystal cluster spurs job growth.

traveling Light
Upgraded airport results in stress-free experience.

Affluence and Affordability
Residents savor strong quality of life.


Overview business Almanac business Climate energy/technology education health 11 12 16 36 42 46 55 56



economic Profile through the Lens

On the COVeR A University of Akron biochemistry student uses nanocrystals to research early cancer detection at the Center for biomaterials in medicine at the national Polymer innovation Center.
Photo by brian McCord


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Greater akron economic development Guide
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Greater akron economic development Guide
Digital Edition
polymer pioneer
University leads national University leads national efforts in polymer research efforts in polymer research
Story byby Kevin Litwin Story Kevin Litwin

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P h o T o C o U r T E S y o f T h E U n i v E r S i T y o f A k r o n D E PA r T M E n T o f E n G i n E E r i n G

P h o T o C o U r T E S y o f T h E U n i v E r S i T y o f A k r o n D E PA r T M E n T o f E n G i n E E r i n G

nene of the most respected of the most respected scientific minds in in the world scientific minds the world has been courted in in the past has been courted the past byby several universities in America several universities in America and beyond. But Dr. Stephen Cheng and beyond. But Dr. Stephen Cheng says hehe only wants to work at says only wants to work at The University of of Akron. The University Akron. The university’s dean of of the College The university’s dean the College of of Polymer Science and Polymer Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering says hehe will always be Engineering says will always be loyal to to Akron thanks to something loyal Akron thanks to something that happened in in the late 1980s. Cheng that happened the late 1980s. Cheng was anan assistant professor of polymer was assistant professor of polymer science in in 1987 at The University of science 1987 at The University of Akron and was promoted to to dean Akron and was promoted dean in in 1988, during difficult national 1988, during difficult national economic times. economic times. “To pay my dean’s salary, I found “To pay my dean’s salary, I found out later that eight associate professors out later that eight associate professors took pay cuts soso thatwould accept took pay cuts that I I would accept the top job in in the polymer science the top job the polymer science department,” Cheng says. “I “I have department,” Cheng says. have never forgotten that kindness and never forgotten that kindness and show of of confidence, and look to show confidence, and look to give back every day to to help make give back every day help make The University of of Akron continue The University Akron continue

to to be the leader in polymer science be the leader in polymer science that it is is today.” that it today.” More than 35,000 people are currently More than 35,000 people are currently employed in in Akron in 400 polymeremployed Akron in 400 polymerrelated enterprises, helping to to position related enterprises, helping position the city among global leaders in in the city among global leaders polymer research and engineering. polymer research and engineering. “It“It used to be that polymers were used to be that polymers were only known for making rubber here only known for making rubber here in in Akron and then plastics, but Akron and then plastics, but polymers in in 2011 are used in polymers 2011 are used in medicine, IT,IT, energy, sustainability medicine, energy, sustainability and much more,” Cheng says. and much more,” Cheng says.
ten increDible labs ten increDible labs InIn October 2010, the department October 2010, the department opened a brand new National Polymer opened a brand new National Polymer Innovation Center (NPIC) onon campus, Innovation Center (NPIC) campus, thereby allowing academic researchers thereby allowing academic researchers and industry partners to to focus on and industry partners focus on providing solutions to to emerging providing solutions emerging research challenges in invariety of of research challenges a a variety areas. Those areas include sectors areas. Those areas include sectors such asas biomaterials synthesis, such biomaterials synthesis, biosensor and bio-device design, biosensor and bio-device design, photovoltaic cells and selectively photovoltaic cells and selectively

Dr.Dr. Matthew Graham, left, and Dr. Stephen Cheng, dean of the College of Polymer Matthew Graham, left, and Dr. Stephen Cheng, dean of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering at at The University of Akron, study conducting Science and Polymer Engineering The University of Akron, study a a conducting polymer film, polythiophene. The university is a leader in in polymer science. polymer film, polythiophene. The university is a leader polymer science.
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Greater akron economic development Guide

Affluence and Affordability

Residents savor strong quality of life

Akron’s liquid crystal cluster spurs job growth

Crystallizing Research

find out what it’s like to live here and what makes the community such a special place to be.

Visit the many animals at the Akron Zoo in a quick video.

What’s Online

University leads national efforts in polymer research
SPOnSORed by the GReAteR AkROn ChAmbeR | 2011

Polymer Pioneer

• Ranked 2010’s #1 Northeast Ohio Suburb by Cleveland Magazine • School system rated “Excellent with Distinction” • More than 1/4 of city is devoted to parks and open space • Twinsburg Library ranked #1 nationally in its category • Strong, diverse business base including G.E. Energy, Rockwell International, Goodrich, Hitachi USA, Pepsi-Cola, Verizon, Windstream and others

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Greater Akron, On the ‘A’ List As a Place to Live and Work
region’s business climate and superior quality of life promote new investment
the Greater Akron region, league sports in baseball, football and and ever-growing employment opportunities, it’s easy to see why comprised of summit, Portage and basketball, hosts a major pro golf Greater Akron is the ideal place medina counties, is rich in history, event and offers such cultural commerce, industry and culture. treasures as the Rock and Roll Hall of to be for work, to live and to visit. While the region built its commerce fame, renowned art museums and a on rubber and tire production, host of performing arts venues. you for more information, contact: it has transformed itself into a can tour local wineries, sample the Greater Akron Chamber world-class center for research and creations of internationally renowned 1 Cascade Plaza, 17th Floor development in a variety of high-tech chefs, and soak up the vibrant and industries, including polymers and varied nightlife that the region offers. Akron, Oh 44308-1192 Phone: (330) 376-5550 liquid-crystal development. With its versatility, cosmopolitan Fax: (330) 379-3164 in recent years, more than flair, low cost of living, outstanding $2.5 billion in private capital has cultural access, history of innovation been invested in new plants and plant expansions, a testament that the region’s economic and corporate climate is ideal for growing businesses. Greater Akron is home 480 to more than 21,000 enterprises, Twinsburg including more than 150 fortune Macedonia 500 companies. in 2008 alone, P O R TA GE Greater Akron generated $291 80 million in corporate facility Richfield Aurora investments and 1,261 new jobs. Peninsula Hudson Brunswick for two consecutive years, Site 44 271 8 77 Selection magazine ranked Akron Streetsboro Cuyahoga no. 2 among metros with populations Stow Falls 59 of 200,000 to 1 million for new Kent Medina Fairlawn business expansions and locations. Ravenna Munroe Falls A public- and private-sector 71 partnership in october 2008 launched Tallmadge Brimfield MEDINA the Bioinnovation institute to capitalize 76 on Greater Akron’s traditional SUMMIT 76 strengths in research, education and health care to create Norton Rittman Wadworth 21 a nationally distinctive Barberton 77 center of excellence for biomaterials 236 Green and medicine. Akron is in the Akron Clinton New Franklin heart of northeastern ohio, a 4 millionpopulation region that is home to major




ga R




SLeePinG in the SiLO
for tourists tired of staying in the same cookie-cutter hotels, Akron offers a unique alternative: the Quaker square inn, recently featured on as one of the top 10 most Unusual Hotels in America. located on the University of Akron campus and housed within 36 towering grain silos – which once held 1.5 million bushels of grain for Quaker oats Co. – the hotel gives visitors a peek into an influential industry of the city’s past. Historical marketing memorabilia of local cereal businesses decorate the interior, and a museum chronicles the evolution of the former factory, which was shuttered in 1970 when the company ceased its operations in Akron, into a full-service hotel listed on the national Register of Historic Places.

enGineeRinG biOmediCAL bReAkthROUGhS
Research could lead two University of Akron professors to a breakthrough in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. the national science foundation granted dr. yang yun, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and dr. Jie zheng, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, a total of $850,000 for bioresearch that delves into the origins of degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and explores possibilities for gene therapy. dr. yun will investigate the transport of dnA into a cell’s nucleus and whether it can be engineered at the nanoscale level to control its size and structure. dr. zheng will explore how proteins in the brain contribute to degenerative disorders – research that can be used to develop therapeutic strategies and inhibitors against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes.


GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

VintAGe time mAChine
love luxurious living art? spend an afternoon at the kent state University museum and you’ll step into a giant closet full of it. the museum’s eight galleries feature collections of fashion and decor by the world’s greatest artists and designers. from historical and contemporary fashions to costumes representing many of the world’s cultures to American glass, fine furniture, textiles, paintings and other decorative arts, the museum gives visitors a comprehensive glimpse into the art of design. the museum, which was founded with a contribution of 4,000 costumes and accessories and 1,000 pieces of decorative art from dress manufacturers Jerry silverman and shannon Rodgers, showcases what is considered one of the finest period custom collections in the country, totaling more than 40,000 pieces. the museum is open for exhibitions, public programs and private research.



ROCk-StAR dininG
taking a line from her ‘80s hit, Talk of the Town, Pretenders rocker and Akron native Chrissie Hynde is making a name for herself in an arena outside of music: vegan food. Hynde’s vegetarian and italianmediterranean hometown restaurant, vegiterranean, was named one of the eight best vegetarian restaurants in the country by People for Ethical treatment of Animals (PEtA). Best of all, the restaurant, which serves a blend of mediterranean and vegetarian cuisine in a rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere, gives patrons a true taste of Akron – all of the vegetables, fruits and grains served come from local farms. Chef scot Jones recently released a vegan cookbook, and some of his recipes have even made their way to talk show queen oprah Winfrey’s “21-day Cleanse” menu. visit vegiterranean in the northside lofts near downtown Akron or browse the menu at

bRinGinG bACk the bRAnd
Purell is coming back home. Akron soap maker GoJo recently purchased the hand-sanitizer brand it invented back from Johnson & Johnson, which had acquired the popular brand to sell through retailers. With its legal stamp on the brand once more, GoJo, which had continued to sell the product to hospitals, nursing homes and schools, will become the sole supplier of Purell. now that the product is back in the company’s hands, company leaders are already dreaming up ways to innovate the germ-killing hand cleaner for the consumer market. stay tuned!

kent state University mathematics professor dr. morley davidson, along with a team of researchers, have cracked the code to one of the nation’s biggest quandaries: the Rubik’s Cube. the team, which also included a Google engineer, a German math teacher and a Palo Alto programmer, unveiled research proving that every position of the cube can be solved in 20 moves or less. Using computational cube research, the group solved every position of the Rubik’s Cube, which numbered in the billions, and from several algorithms used to solve the puzzle, narrowed the sequence of steps down to two dozen.


GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

nAtiOn’S beSt bURGeRS
looking for the best hamburger in town? How about the country? At Akron’s national Hamburger festival, dozens of cooks convene to settle that question once and for all. the festival pits local eateries against each other as they prepare more than 50 varieties of burgers. the event celebrates Akron’s bragging rights as one of four cities that claim to be the birthplace of the hamburger. legend has it that the Akronbred menches brothers were the first to serve ground beef inside a bun in the 1880s. if you can’t make the festival, visit swensons drive-in for a burger dubbed the “best in the country” by Gourmet magazine.

Stem SChOOL in the SPOtLiGht
students at Akron’s newest middle school, the national inventors Hall of fame® school ... Center for stEm learning, got a surprise recently when Cnn came to film a segment on the school. Cnn education contributor steve Perry visited with 7th graders working on an invasive species project with the Cuyahoga valley national Park and interviewed teachers about how they integrate creativity and problem-solving into their science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum. the cameo came just in time to spotlight the school’s move into its new state-of-the-art building downtown. the school gives 500 students in grades 5 through 8 the opportunity to work on projects and programs with inventors and mentors.

keePinG the LiGht On
for more than 140 years, root candles in medina, ohio, has been lighting up the candle industry with its innovative decorative and religious candles. the family-owned company, started by beekeeper amos ives root in 1869, is highly regarded by consumers across the country for its subtle fragrances and colorful palettes, and produces 9 million pounds of candles a year. the secret to its longevity and success? Each candle is handcrafted using techniques mastered through five generations of craftsmanship combined with the latest in manufacturing technologies. the company’s newest brand of all-natural beeswax candles, legacy by root, pays homage to the roots of the medina enterprise.




GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

Business Climate

more than a moniker
once acclaimed as the world’s rubber capital, akron is becoming known for its diverse industries
story by Kevin Litwin


kron may be known as the Rubber Capital of the World and proudly so, but it is also home to an array of diverse industries and a talented creative class. Of course, the rubber industry is still important, as evidenced by Bridgestone Americas recently announcing a $100 million investment to construct a new technical center scheduled to open in late 2011. The center will develop innovations for the tire industry. Additionally, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is building a 450,000-square-foot world headquarters in Akron as part of a $900 million development, which will include office, retail and residential space, and a revitalization of the eastern Akron neighborhood that surrounds it.

“A little more than 15 percent of the 300,000 employees in the Akron region work in the rubber, plastics and overall manufacturing industry, so it obviously remains vital to our local economy,” says Dan Colantone, president and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber. “But industry around here also includes health care, food service, science, construction, finance, real estate and transportation warehousing. It is always good to diversify, and the Greater Akron workforce certainly provides diversification.”
heLLO, CALL CenteRS Along with robust polymer and liquid crystal technology clusters, Akron is also becoming a headquarters for

A worker inspects tires at a Goodyear tire & Rubber Co. manufacturing plant in Akron.


health care, with 15 percent of the workforce employed in that sector. Companies range from medical device enterprises such as OrthoHelix, Philips Medical and Hitachi to biopharmaceutical firms such as spinal imaging firm SpineMatrix and Purell hand-sanitizer pioneer GOJO. Meanwhile, call centers are also becoming more prevalent, with telemarketer InfoCision recently adding 200 hires to its 1,000 employees. “Our founder, Gary Taylor, grew up right here in Akron and graduated from The University of Akron, so he is a homegrown entrepreneur,” says Steve Brubaker, InfoCision chief of staff. “Today, InfoCision has 200 clients, many of which are Fortune 500 companies and national charities, and we help them with fund-raising drives by communicating with their donors through telephone, mail and Web.”
PHotos By BRiAn mcCoRd

Left: An employee checks the vacuum venting system at diamond Polymers, a company that designs and supplies thermoplastic materials and resins. Above: Beads of polymer on display at diamond Polymers


GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

InfoCision has 4,200 employees, with more than 1,000 in the Akron area, where its headquarters is located. It also runs a large operation in Green in Summit County, as well as offices throughout the state and surrounding states.
COmmUniCAtiOnS StAtiOn Meanwhile, PlusOne Communications located its new information technology resources center in a renovated building in downtown Akron, and plans to create 1,000 new jobs. AT&T has also announced a $120 million investment in Akron for a new mobility data center – one of only nine such centers nationwide. In addition, Involta LLC of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has broken ground on a data center in Akron that will house computer systems, databases and related IT components for a range of companies and institutions. Involta’s $20 million facility is scheduled to open in late 2011. OtheR SUCCeSS StORieS Diamond Polymers designs and supplies thermoplastic materials and resins, and has expanded its product line by adding Centrex after acquiring it from competitor INEOS ABS of Addyston, Ohio. Also, other plastics and chemical companies such as Omnova and A. Schulman Inc. are looking to expand their global reach. In fact, A. Schulman plans to take its current annual resins and plastics sales of $1.3 billion to $5 billion within the decade. “Akron offers a good quality of life, a low-cost work environment and a productive and available workforce,” Colantone says. “There is also a big push in our schools toward STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – with a major effort to emphasize those subjects in our next generation of students and workforce.”

infoCision, headquartered in Akron, specializes in telemarketing services for clients.



What’s Online
For more innovation in the Greater Akron region, visit


GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

the Science of Akron
akron’s biomedical corridor earns the city global recognition, respect
story by Melanie Hill

iomaterials is big business in Akron. Recognized globally for innovation in polymers, materials science and medical research, the city is taking its position one step further with the development of the Akron Biomedical Corridor. Anchored by the Akron General Medical Center, Summa Akron City Hospital and Akron Children’s Hospital, the 600-acre development is expected to create nearly 3,000 jobs within the next five years. “The idea for the corridor was the result of a trade mission trip to Israel, when representatives from area hospitals and I discussed the strength we would have working together,” says Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, who proposed the corridor concept in 2006. “I saw the property between the hospitals and knew we could be successful by filling in the gaps with medical companies.”
AUSten biOinnOVAtiOn inStitUte At the heart of the corridor is the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA), tasked with using the city’s materials science and medical expertise to create solutions for people dealing with orthopaedic and wound-healing


the 600-acre development is expected to create nearly 3,000 jobs within the next five years.
problems. The institute is the result of an alliance of Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, Summa Health System, The University of Akron, and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “This unique collaboration is leading the charge to pioneer the next generation of life-enhancing and lifesaving innovation that will transform Akron into a model for biomedical discovery and enterprise,” says Dr. Frank Douglas, president and chief executive officer of ABIA. The institute is comprised of four interrelated centers: biomaterials, medical devices, health care simulation and

dr. darrell H. Reneker, professor of Polymer science at the University of Akron, uses his hand to demonstrate electrospinning of polymer nanofibers. P H o t o B y J E f f A d k i n s



GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

education, and clinical trials and community health. Each maintains a focus on accelerating biomedical commercialization and improving access, education, prevention, treatment and disease management. In 2011, ABIA will move to a $10 million, 40,000square-foot facility at the corner of Main Street and Perkins Avenue. Douglas says the hallmark of the facility will be the ABIA Center for Simulation and Integrated Health Care Education – a state-of-the-art health care training facility that will offer novel team-based, patient-centered simulation programs. “The institute is uniquely positioned to meld the region’s traditional strengths in research, education and world-class health care,” says William H. Considine, chairman of ABIA and president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital. “Our vision of making Akron a leader in the biomaterials field is absolutely attainable, given Akron’s intellectual, educational, research and commercial strengths.”
A hUb OF innOVAtiOn And OPPORtUnity Innovation is nothing new to Akron. Doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital were the first to utilize artificial skin for burn victims, while The University of Akron’s College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering continually investigates new ways to utilize polymers in medicine. It’s no surprise that, in 2010, Akron was designated an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity. The city is also one of only six places in the nation to win the U.S. Commerce Department’s i6 Innovation Challenge to fund efforts to accelerate innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization. Early-stage companies also receive assistance from programs such as the Akron Global Business Accelerator – a partnership of the City of Akron, The Akron Development Corporation, The University of Akron and the State of Ohio. The program provides promising start-ups work space for offices, manufacturing, assembling and laboratories. “We want to provide incentives to encourage companies to locate to the corridor,” says Bob Bowman, Akron deputy mayor and chair of the Akron Development Corporation. “Akron provides a unique opportunity for biomedical companies, both global and domestic.”
BRiAn mcCoRd

A polymer science student uses peptide-functionalized polymers to mediate gold nanoparticle assembly on surfaces for biosensor applications at the Austen Bioinnovation institute in Akron.


entrepreneurial engine
global business accelerator propels akron economy
GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

story by Betsy Williams • Photography by Jeff Adkins

he Akron Global Business Accelerator (ABGA) is sparking the region’s economic engine by incorporating technology and foreign investment, and launching successful job-creating machines. “Our overall objective is to create high-paying, high-tech jobs and bring substantial capital investment to the City of Akron,” says Terry Martell, director of operations and business development. “Our Accelerator is a program of the City of Akron. Because of the sustainable support we’ve received from our mayor since 1983, we’ve been able to do a lot of things other business incubators haven’t.”
ACCeLeRAtOR mAtCheS key teChnOLOGieS Initially started as an industrialbased incubator, the Accelerator, which has graduated 75 companies, changed its name and focus three years ago to concentrate on developing a job sector that matches the key technologies identified in a recent Battelle Institute economic development study. “The study outlined Ohio’s strengths and how we should position ourselves to prosper in a changing and knowledge-based economy,” Martell says. “We still have strong numbers in the manufacture of metals and polymers; we have worked to incorporate those manufacturing sectors into high-tech industries.”


For example, medical devices require advanced manufacturing and sophisticated tools, whether it is a diagnostic device or some type of life sciences project. “We’re focusing on those where we have an existing manufacturing base because the supply chain is already here, and we’re finding new products and innovations created by the tenants in our center,” Martell says. The Accelerator staff and its partners offer meaningful resources, not the least of which is the building itself: 200,000 square feet of improved office, manufacturing, assembly, wet labs and conferencing facilities in a secured building with 24/7 accessibility. Space is provided at below-market rates to help new entities get through those first critical years. “Our real value is our consultation team,” says Dr. Anthony Margida, director of entrepreneurial services. “Our job here is to promote, facilitate and accelerate these early-stage companies from the idea to the marketplace. We assist with business planning, we use our networks to find strategic partnerships, and we help them put together investment pitches that gain access to capital providers. When a company becomes part of the program, we become an ally of theirs.” The result is an impressive 90 percent success rate.

ACCeLeRAtOR tenAnt SeeS exPLOSiVe GROWth Among the 51 current tenants is Summit Data Communications, recently named the fastest-growing computer hardware company in the Midwest by Inc. magazine. The maker of radio modules that enable wireless medical equipment to communicate with computers in hospitals, Summit has seen a growth rate of 516 percent over the last three years. “AGBA has been our home since 2006,” says Summit CEO Ron Seide. “The downtown location enables us to utilize University of Akron resources, and the center provides staff for training and counseling, and shows us a wealth of shared experiences they’ve had with other entrepreneurial experiences here in the building. They have been really helpful to all the tenants. We’ll stay as long as they’ll have us.” Other tenants, like Israeli medical device maker NI Medical, the second Isreali company to move to Akron since the city invested in a business incubator outside of Tel Aviv, are seeing success. NI Medical’s cardiac diagnostic device, which uses impedance technology to measure heart health, is being used in a major European Union-funded clinical study aimed at helping heart patients better diagnose and manage their disease.

NatiONal RecOgNitiON
in 2010, the Greater Akron Chamber received recognition from the international Economic development Council for its business retention program, the summit Business Partnership. since 2003, the partnership has helped more than 1,000 local companies network with sales prospects and other businesses and identify financing options and international opportunities. the chamber plans to expand the program to medina and Portage counties this year.

Left: A compact flash Wi-fi device developed by summit data Communications at the Akron Global Business Accelerator




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An Anchor for innovation
akron boasts thriving business climate by retaining successful companies
not only is Greater Akron a great place for start-up companies, its innovative spirit and program assistance keep more than 21,000 companies thriving. With its blend of enjoyable living and high-powered opportunity, Akron is home to more than 150 fortune 500 companies and provides an anchor for businesses to flourish in the long-term. the tokyo-based Audiotechnica, which designs and manufactures high-performance microphones, headphones, noisecanceling headphones and other audio products used extensively in the music industry, expanded its business to Akron in 1972 and has since dominated the U.s. market in its niche. “this area provides us with good access to our customers, plus the ability to connect to major airports for international travel,” says Richard sprungle, vice president of operations. “local service providers such as freight carriers, printers and electronic component providers are competitive and capable of meeting the daily operational requirements of our organization.” A major strength of the company is the dedicated staff, sprungle says. “the area provides us with qualified and passionate employees who enjoy world-class health care, outstanding recreational opportunities and access to arts and entertainment.” Akron’s workforce and community loyalty, along with its strategic location, are key reasons why tallmadge-based summit Racing Equipment has remained in the area. the company, which began as a one-man shop in 1968, is the largest mail order automotive performance supplier worldwide. throughout its growth and retail expansion, summit Racing has relied on the Greater Akron Chamber for help marketing its store to media outlets, advertising manager nan Gelhard says. – Betsy Williams




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Polymer Pioneer
university leads national efforts in polymer research
story by Kevin Litwin


P H o t o C o U R t E s y o f t H E U n i v E R s i t y o f A k R o n d E PA R t m E n t o f E n G i n E E R i n G

ne of the most respected scientific minds in the world has been courted in the past by several universities in America and beyond. But Dr. Stephen Cheng says he only wants to work at The University of Akron. The university’s dean of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering says he will always be loyal to Akron thanks to something that happened in the late 1980s. Cheng was an assistant professor of polymer science in 1987 at The University of Akron and was promoted to dean in 1988, during difficult national economic times. “To pay my dean’s salary, I found out later that eight associate professors took pay cuts so that I would accept the top job in the polymer science department,” Cheng says. “I have never forgotten that kindness and show of confidence, and look to give back every day to help make The University of Akron continue

to be the leader in polymer science that it is today.” More than 35,000 people are currently employed in Akron in 400 polymerrelated enterprises, helping to position the city among global leaders in polymer research and engineering. “It used to be that polymers were only known for making rubber here in Akron and then plastics, but polymers in 2011 are used in medicine, IT, energy, sustainability and much more,” Cheng says.
ten inCRedibLe LAbS In October 2010, the department opened a brand new National Polymer Innovation Center (NPIC) on campus, thereby allowing academic researchers and industry partners to focus on providing solutions to emerging research challenges in a variety of areas. Those areas include sectors such as biomaterials synthesis, biosensor and bio-device design, photovoltaic cells and selectively

dr. matthew Graham, left, and dr. stephen Cheng, dean of the College of Polymer science and Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron, study a conducting polymer film, polythiophene. the university is a leader in polymer science.



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permeable membranes. The NPIC houses 10 laboratories equipped with high-tech research instrumentation and an advanced bay area where polymer prototypes can be fabricated. “This center will evolve quickly into a regional and national research resource facility with unique equipment and expertise in polymer research,” Cheng says.
heALinG WOUndS, diSSeCtinG nAnOPARtiCLeS The Innovation Center is also home to two other specific research entities – the Center for Biomaterials in Medicine and the Akron Functional Material Center. The Center for Biomaterials in Medicine focuses on innovation in wound-healing and orthopaedic research, while the Akron Functional Material Center has

a mission of developing solutions for industry challenges in complex fluids, nanoparticles, adhesion, membranes, biomaterials and automation. “The Akron Functional Material Center is structured around elevating the technology level of research discoveries and new polymeric materials in the areas of biomaterials, energy and sustainability,” says Dr. Matthew Becker, University of Akron associate professor of polymer science. “The center is especially versatile because it is part of an academic institution. We have a large collection of resourcelevel and research capabilities.”
mORe bRAin POWeR Cheng adds that a goal in 2011 and beyond for the entire Department of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is to attract more American students into the

curriculum. The department currently has 80 full-time and seven part-time graduate students, with 30 percent of the full-time students hailing from the United States while 70 percent are from other parts of the world. “Another department objective is to always have 100 percent of our graduates find challenging industrial and governmental positions in research, development and production of polymers and composite materials,” Cheng says. “If you are a graduate of polymer science from The University of Akron, you will always be in demand.”

Left: Biochemistry student Anna Ganios works on optimizing multi-component hydrogels for use in soft tissue regenerative medicine applications at the Center for Biomaterials in medicine at the national Polymer innovation Center. P H o t o B y B R i A n m c C o R d

breakthrough in diabetes treatment
university of akron polymers work advances bio-artificial pancreas technology
the University of Akron has (UA) long been renowned for its advances in polymers innovation. now work by two UA researchers is bringing those advances into the treatment of diabetes, a disease that affects 23.6 million adults and children in the United states. UA researchers dr. Joseph kennedy, distinguished professor of polymer science and chemistry, and dr. miko Cakmak, professor of polymer engineering, collaborated on a bio-artificial pancreas technology that could free millions of diabetes patients from painful daily prick testing and self-injections to maintain proper insulin levels, in effect allowing them to function as though they did not have the disease. the innovation, under development by UA and university spinout company kenCak llC, utilizes a biocompatible, polymer-coated nanofiber tube populated with insulin-producing cells from a pig. the polymeric device allows pig pancreatic islet cells, or PiCs, to be implanted under the skin at a location in the body where the blood supply is large enough to deliver the needed amount of insulin. the seven-centimeter polymer tubule could be easily removed and replaced as often as necessary to maintain proper blood sugar levels. for their work, which includes several patents on technology and process, kennedy and Cakmak received the 2009 nortech innovation Award in the biosciences category from the northeast ohio technology Association. other collaborators include dr. George newkome, president of the University of Akron Research foundation; the Cleveland Clinic; and the northeastern ohio Universities Colleges of medicine and Pharmacy. the University of Akron is a research leader, with more than $48 million in sponsored research and 115 active projects in 2009. U.S. News & World Report has ranked UA’s polymer science and polymer engineering program no. 2 in the nation.


Crystallizing Research
akron’s liquid crystal cluster spurs job growth
story by Heather Johnston Johnson Photography by Jeff Adkins

iquid crystal displays largely began in Northeast Ohio, and technology insiders are working to boost the technology cluster that surrounds them with more innovation. LCDs and similar products are set for wider marketability as more uses for liquid crystals are discovered. The research has economic implications since flexible electronics, or electronic devices printed on flexible plastic, are an important growth area for Ohio. The combination of emerging technology and existing products could bring around 1,000 jobs to the state, according to a 2009 study on the state’s technology industry conducted by SRI International.
teChnOLOGy bRinGS JObS Business leaders and university researchers aren’t content to leave product development times to chance. They’re stepping up to form partnerships that will speed the phases between
Left: A chemist examines liquid crystals at kent state University’s liquid Crystal institute. Right: liquid crystals are separated out of a solution in the lab at the liquid Crystal institute.



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ideas and final product readiness. Technology start-ups already offer wider employment. For example, Ohio’s high-tech industries added 19,198 jobs between 2004 and 2008, during the same period all other Ohio industries lost 7,247 jobs, according to a study commissioned by NorTech. Companies producing flexible displays and electronics grew by 86.7 percent during the same period.
PARtneRShiPS SPeed UP PROdUCt deVeLOPment Byron Clayton, vice president of NorTech (a nonprofit dedicated to

promoting technological growth in the region), says the cluster began growing on its own when liquid crystal display technology was introduced by Kent State University. NorTech, along with local researchers and entrepreneurs, wants to jump-start the natural evolution of the technology cluster by encouraging collaboration. The company is backing an effort called FlexMatters, which joins Kent State University, The University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University and regional tech companies. Launched in 2006, the initiative has a seven-year goal to add 1,500 jobs, $75 million in

payroll and $100 million in capital to Northeast Ohio’s economy. “NorTech’s role is to convene members together, and we completed the road map so we have a shared vision and drive for that vision,” Clayton says.
LiQUid CRyStAL innOVAtiOnS Oleg Lavrentovichm, director of Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute, says researchers at the university continue to develop innovative products. He says companies often don’t have the equipment necessary to develop goods on their own,

the campus of kent state University, which is partnering with other universities and tech companies in the area to create more jobs and boost northeast ohio’s economy. Right: A cholesteric liquid crystal sample to be studied at the liquid Crystal institute in kent.


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so they benefit from having the university’s facilities. “The need is two-fold. First, their products represent the direct result of intellectual property developed at the universities. Second, the manpower of these companies is largely researchers and engineers educated at the university,” Lavrentovichm says. Kent State researchers currently work on a broad array of new technology that includes everything from a flexible rubber laser to transformation optics that may one day create effects in space such as invisibility cloaking. A recent discovery from Lavrentovichm’s team found greater versatility of liquid crystals, called the “electrophoresis effect.” It could help biomedical researchers separate different DNA molecules or provide greater control of the electronic ink used in devices such as Amazon’s Kindle.
QUALity iS key tO LiQUid CRyStAL COmPetitiOn Albert Green, chief executive officer of Kent Displays, says competition with other liquid crystal clusters makes innovation even more important for the region. The company recently introduced the Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet, a paperless tablet that can be used as an alternative to sketchbooks, memos, dry-erase boards and other writing and drawing mediums. “The display industry is no different than many other technology industries that operate on the premise of ‘better, faster, cheaper,’” Green says. He wants to ensure area companies stay ahead with quality products. “We must develop the appropriate talent and make the requisite investment in infrastructure, facilities and programs.” The manufacture and development of the Boogie Board is just one example of how liquid crystal technology creates jobs in the area. Kent Displays doubled its workforce in 2010 with a new manufacturing line that produces the tablet and the addition of many business and technical jobs.

KeNt state uNiveRsity’s liquid cRystal iNstitute (lci)
FOuNdiNg: the lCi was formed in 1965 under the direction of dr. Glenn H. Brown, who served as the director until he retired in 1983. the institute was named in Brown’s honor by the kent state University Board of trustees in 1986. FuNdiNg: major grants for the institute have come from the national institutes of Health, the national science foundation and U.s. defense agencies. lOcatiON: the new liquid Crystal and materials sciences building was completed in 1996. the three-story facility provides 65,000 gross square feet and includes classrooms, a 150-seat auditorium, 22,000 square feet of research laboratories for more than 25 individual labs, clean rooms (for creating prototype liquid crystal displays, and training students and technicians in display manufacturing techniques), offices, a display manufacturing line, and associated service and support facilities. uNiveRsity PaRtNeRs: the national science foundation chose kent state University, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Akron to serve as ohio’s only science and technology Research Center in 1990. AlCom, the Center for Advanced liquid Crystalline optical materials, is an interdisciplinary, national center for advanced research and development of liquid crystal optoelectronic materials, technology and consumer products.




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PHoto CoURtEsy of tHE UnivERsit y of AkRon


Grant helps Green
university of akron tech grants boost city’s clean energy products
story by Heather Johnston Johnson


niversity of Akron engineers are using more than $2 million in grant money to speed up development of clean energy products in Akron and offer cutting-edge technology to area tech firms. This intersection of university research and start-up businesses means significant growth for Northeast Ohio’s economy, which is seeing job creation from its technology sector, according to a 2009 study conducted by SRI International on the state’s technology industry.

Engineering program, and around $300,000 from Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron and Lorain County Community College, the grants support work on sensors to improve clean energy and other efforts to reduce corrosion. Battery-powered cars, cleanerburning coal and high-tech filters that use sensors to target compounds are just some of the main projects in the works at the school.
PUbLiC/PRiVAte PARtneRShiPS bOOSt enGineeRinG ReSeARCh George Newkome, vice president for research and dean of UA’s graduate school, emphasizes the importance of collaborations between the public and private sectors. As a public university, Akron is limited by funds. But with private grants of around $20 million over the last nine years and around $50 to $100 million from all sources to support research programs –

including companies using UA’s research facilities and paying licensing fees for products – the university has been able to build research programs and hire new faculty. Newkome says the university’s research foundation created more than 40 start-up companies and approximately 300 patents over the past few years.
FASteR PROdUCt deVeLOPment UA’s recent grants move product completion timelines forward for partnering companies such as EBO Group, based in Sharon Center, and Orbital Research, based in Cleveland. Dr. Jose Alexis De Abreu-Garcia, professor and chair of the UA Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, says the university’s research support should help these companies market their products in a two- to three-year time frame. The research also will create “about 110 new jobs in the area within the

enGineeRinG COLLeGe GetS mORe thAn $2 miLLiOn in GRAntS In the fall of 2010, UA’s College of Engineering received $1.67 million in Ohio Third Frontier funds from the Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering at Cleveland State University. Coupled with $500,000 from BP to support the university’s new Corrosion and Reliability

students at the University of Akron’s new Corrosion and Reliability Engineering program design materials to preserve infrastructure.


PHoto By BRiAn mcCoRd


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PHotos CoURtEsy of tHE UnivERsit y of AkRon

next three to six years,” he says.
CLeAneR-bURninG COAL Dr. Steven Chuang, UA professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, heads efforts focusing on carbon dioxide sequestration, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it, as well as coal-based fuel cells that harness the energy potential of the nation’s abundant coal supply while filtering out some of the carbon dioxide released into the environment. The intense research helps local companies such as Akron-based FirstEnergy compress the time it takes to incorporate new technology. “It usually takes 20 to 30 years to develop such technology, but after only 10 years, we can move forward to the pilot scale,” Chuang says. SenSOR teChnOLOGy in FiLteRS Additional filter work spearheaded by Dr. George Chase, UA professor of chemical engineering and director of the FirstEnergy Advanced Energy Research Center, paves the way for more products. Chase is researching filtration technology that uses sensors to target compounds in air or water. The filters could be used to filter blood or in gas masks to filter toxins such as anthrax. eLeCtRiC And hybRid CAR Research on electric and hybrid vehicles are headed by Drs. De AbreauGarcia, Tom Hartley and Iqbal Husain, UA professors of electrical and computer engineering. UA is completing a new facility to house the work, which will allow researchers to test every aspect of drivetrain performance and other energy technologies.
Clockwise from top: University of Akron College of Engineering; A UA engineering student designs a microbial corrosion test cell; A UA polymer engineering Ph.d. student applies powder coating to a steel plate, which will be tested for corrosion resistance.



traveling Light
akron-canton airport provides stress-free travel experience
story by Betsy Williams

he Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) may be smaller than others in the vicinity, but it offers big perks for travelers who want to avoid the hassles and stress of larger airports. “Travel is stressful these days, and we offer a really relaxing experience,” says Kristie Van Auken, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer. “We have shorter walks and shorter lines. It all just feels better. People automatically take a deep breath and say, ‘Ah!,’ when they walk in. They feel relieved.” From comfy lounge chairs and big-screen televisions to well-equipped workstations and free Wi-Fi, the airport is all about traveler comfort. But it’s also about value.
AiRtRAn hAS the mOSt CAk tRAFFiC “We have the lowest average airfare of any airport in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania combined,” Van Auken says, noting that CAK is ranked as the seventh most affordable airport in the nation. “AirTran Airways moves 51 percent of our business out of our airport. Between AirTran and Frontier, which serves western-bound travelers, we carry the lowest fares.” “AirTran Airways is proud to partner with the AkronCanton Airport to serve the people of Northeast Ohio with our brand of low fares and high-quality service,” says Tad Hutcheson, AirTran vice president of marketing and sales. “We have grown our service at Akron-Canton over the years, and the airport has always been a strong supporter of any new service we add.” Other carriers based at CAK include Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways Express. Business travelers can make daily round-trips to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and several destinations in Florida.


the Akron-Canton Airport attracts 1.5 million passengers a year and offers the lowest average airfare of any airport in its vicinity.


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JEff Adkins

PHoto CoURtEsy of AkRon - CAnton AiRPoRt

tRaNsPORtatiON assets
CAk extendS RUnWAy, AddS FLiGhtS While passenger traffic has declined at most airports across the country, it continues to rise in Akron, doubling over the past decade to about 1.5 million passengers. In 2010, the airport saw eight months of record-breaking numbers as new flights were added, and the airport continued to implement its $110 million CAK 2018 expansion plan. In November 2010, officials commissioned a $60 million runway extension project, enabling passengers to fly non-stop to the West Coast, Canada and Mexico. Also either on the planning board or in the process of implementation: a new aircraft rescue and fire-fighting maintenance facility, a new customs and border patrol building, and parking, ticketing and TSA screening area expansions. “The idea for us as a public asset is to continue to make improvements so that the airport enhances the community,” Van Auken says. “With an airfield, we must meet several compliances, and the process takes time. It took 10 years from the moment we conceived of the runway extension to the time of completion. We always have to plan ahead.” The airport reaches out to its frequent-flier base via social media, using Twitter and Facebook, earning it a position on Forbes magazine’s Top 10 Social Media Airports. With 47 direct airport employees and 1,000 people employed on the entire campus, the airport boasts a $400 million economic impact on the Akron area. “When you have an asset like this that’s thriving, it brings hope and breeds enthusiasm, and builds community pride,” Van Auken says. “It’s been a boost, and it means something good is happening here.”
aiRPORts seRviNg aKRON: Akron Canton Airport, Akron-fulton international Airport Cleveland-Hopkins international Airport RailROads: Csx (former Baltimore & ohio) Wheeling & lake Erie (former Akron, Canton & youngstown) Akron Barberton Cluster Cuyahoga valley scenic Railroad traffic: Csx, about 20 to 24 trains a day; W&lE and ABC about 10 trains a day iNteRstates/HigHWays: i-277 i-76 i-77 ohio state Route 8 Akron innerbelt Public tRaNsPORtatiON: Akron metro Regional transit Authority stark Area Regional transit Authority Portage Area Regional transportation Authority Greyhound Bus,




Putting innovation to Work
story by Kevin Litwin

universities adept at launching cutting-edge companies

he University of Akron recently provided medical giant Boston Scientific with a polymer that improves the coating of stents and pacemaker leads for heart patients. Boston Scientific President Ray Elliott says it is “the polymer discovery of the generation.” Such is everyday life at The University of Akron, which is gaining ground over better-known research institutions when it comes to licensing and


commercializing technology. A recent study by national consulting firm Innovation Associates found that smaller universities such as The University of Akron were often more productive at launching start-up companies than traditional superstar tech universities with bigger R&D budgets. “Our $50 million budget is small compared the $500 million to $750 million in research grants that are

allocated annually to universities like Stanford, MIT and Ohio State – but our results are better invention-wise,” says Kenneth Preston, University of Akron associate vice president of research and director of technology transfer.
FAbULOUS FOUndAtiOn Preston is also involved with The University of Akron Research Foundation, a private, nonprofit entity that manages intellectual

the University of Akron has helped raise millions of dollars in funds to launch more than 40 start-up companies in the area.


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PHotos CoURtEsy of tHE UnivERsit y of AkRon


“Akron Polymer Systems was started six years ago by two faculty members, and today there are 15 former students with Ph.d.s who are employed there.”
properties for the university. “For example, the independent Research Foundation makes all decisions regarding patents, trademarks and copyrights, then the university owns all of them,” he says. “The foundation is a group of people with much experience in the business world, many with 30 years or more with major corporations. We know how to secure grants for research.”
A COmPAny FULL OF Ph.d.S The foundation also funds start-up companies to help the region’s economy. “Akron Polymer Systems was started six years ago by two faculty members, and today there are 15 former students with Ph.D.s who are employed there,” Preston says. To date, The University of Akron and the Foundation have teamed up to raise $50 million in private

funding to launch more than 40 companies.
CRyStAL CLeAR Meanwhile, innovation success is also occurring at Kent State University. One of Kent State’s key research initiatives is its Liquid Crystal Institute, which is internationally renowned for advancements in liquid crystal display technology for items such as watches, cell phones and electronic scoreboards. “I started working at LCI in 1996, and there have been 17 start-up companies launched by the Institute since then,” says Greg Wilson, Kent State University associate vice president for economic development and strategic partnerships. “The start-up companies include Kent Displays, which now has 75 employees.” Wilson says several of the start-ups are tenants at nearby Kent State Centennial Research Park. “All of the companies are on the cutting-edge of research and technology,” he says. “In fact, one such company – Crystal Diagnostics – is involved with beach-water testing advancements and recently made a major breakthrough.” the WAteR’S Fine Wilson says the breakthrough helps communities that must close beaches after bacteria are found in the water. The traditional way to test water had always been to collect culture samples and let them sit for two days to see what’s growing. “But now, Crystal Diagnostics has invented a rapid biosensor that can tell what’s in the water in only 20 minutes,” he says. “If, for example, Santa Monica in California had to close its beaches for two days, it would result in a huge hit to their local economy. So Crystal Diagnostics is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in California to introduce this incredible biosensor innovation.”

Jake lu prepares a chromophore solution at Akron Polymer systems.


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BRiAn mcCoRd

Like a Well-Oiled machine
akron’s cnc training center helps workers upgrade their skills
lee Combs was tired of laying off single-skilled workers and struggling to find multi-skilled ones, so the owner of sC manufacturing decided to utilize floor space in his plant to start a training school. today, Akron CnC training Center helps downsized machinists in the metal fabrication industry gain the math, problemsolving and computer skills to run state-of-the-art machinery. the school is more affordable than most trade schools, and 70 of the students who finished the training program in the first year have already been hired – including a few of the workers that Combs laid off. “this state-registered center has a curriculum that takes only four months to complete and only costs a student $4,100,” says laurie norval, the center’s director and Combs’ daughter. “A lot of unemployed or low-income students can get tuition help, plus we offer a payment plan. But the bottom line is that $4,100 is very reasonable to learn excellent skills in modern machinery.” students learn about CnC (computer numerically controlled) machines, which are rapidly replacing older production lathes. “it’s like when desktop computers replaced typewriters. CnC machines are cleaner, safer and more efficient, but technical skills are needed to program the computers that run the machines,” norval says. “that’s where Akron CnC training Center comes in.” norval adds that students who complete the four-month program find jobs quickly. “typical starting pay is $12 to $14 an hour, and many workers quickly get to $20 to $25 an hour,” she says. “Between Akron and Cleveland, there are about 700 machine shops, with Cleveland being second in the nation for machining jobs, while Akron is ranked seventh. manufacturing is about to make a big comeback as the recession eases.” – Kevin Litwin

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A Picture of health
akron hospitals provide first-class care
story by Melanie Hill

eed a doctor? Not a problem in Akron, where three nationally recognized hospitals provide first-class care to residents of Northeast Ohio. Read on to learn more about the quality of care at these facilities, and how each hospital is innovating to raise the level of patient safety and satisfaction even more.
AkROn GeneRAL hOSPitAL SyStem Honored by National Research Corporation as one of the nation’s top hospitals 14 years running, Akron General Hospital System boasts regional referral centers in cardiology, oncology, women’s health and orthopaedics. Electrophysiology and vein and pacemaker clinics are just a few of the services available to patients at Akron General Heart & Vascular Center. Meanwhile, patients of the McDowell Cancer Center receive access to clinical trials and top specialists. In 2010, Akron General’s respiratory and digestive health programs


were recognized by U.S. News and World Report magazine for outstanding care. The system has also partnered with Ravenna, Ohio-based My LifePlan to deploy the company’s MyChoice service in their emergency department and the system’s three freestanding emergency departments. “MyChoice is a secure, Web-based subscription medical information service that provides medical first responders and Akron General emergency department staff with secure access to a patient’s medical information,” says Jim Gosky, director of media and public relations for Akron General Hospital System. “This saves time and, ultimately, can save lives.”
AkROn ChiLdRen’S hOSPitAL As the largest pediatric health care system in Northeast Ohio, Akron Children’s Hospital (ACH) operates two freestanding pediatric hospitals and services at nearly 80 locations across the region. ACH is also home to The Paul

Left: Akron Children’s Hospital is northeast ohio’s largest pediatric health care system.




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and Carol David Foundation Burn Institute – one of only two pediatric hospitals nationwide to treat both pediatric and adult burn patients. And children with all types of cancers receive treatment at ACH’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. With a volume of more than 600,000 patients each year, ACH has implemented a continuous improvement system designed to raise efficiency by focusing on processes. Since 2008, the initiative has saved ACH more than $10 million and 10,000 hours in wait time for patients. It has also increased the number of surgeries physicians have been able to perform. “Our goal is to make process improvement part of our culture,” says Mark Watson, president of the ACH Regional Network. “If you eliminate waste and the pieces of a process that are an issue, you improve patient experience.”
SUmmA AkROn City hOSPitAL Summa Akron City Hospital was recently ranked among the top 50 hospitals nationwide by HealthGrades, a leading

independent health care ratings organization. Operated by Summa Health System, the hospital operates a 23-bed women’s health unit and centers dedicated to women’s pelvic pain and urology. Seniors also receive extra attention in Summa’s nationally recognized Acute Care for Elders Unit, while palliative care services are available to patients at different stages of illness. Summa Health System was recognized by Computer World for using information technology to improve diagnosis and treatment of strokes, and is utilizing a free health care app called iTriage to allow mobile customers access to door-todoctor emergency room wait times, hospital locations, urgent care centers, physician specialities and health information. “Summa has taken leading-edge technology and applied it to medicine, making critical advances in patient care,” says Thomas J. Strauss, president and chief executive officer of Summa Health System. “This means patients have access to the latest in medical technology and datadriven, evidence-based practices.”

Above right: northeastern ohio Universities Colleges of medicine and Pharmacy is a major health asset for the region.

Akron’s hospitals Add, expand Services
new and enhanced health care offerings abound in the area
With recent expansions at many of the hospitals in Akron, residents can enjoy more quality health care than ever before. in 2010, Akron Children’s Hospital opened a new unit in its emergency department to serve patients with mental and behavioral health issues, which includes five patient rooms, a nurses’ station, waiting room and family relaxation area. the hospital also has obtained the 21-bed special care nursery at summa Akron City Hospital, which opened feb. 1, 2011, and Akron Children’s Hospital mahoning valley is building a new 14,000-square-foot pediatric surgery department at the hospital’s Beeghly campus in Boardman. Additionally, Akron General has plans to construct a new Health and Wellness Center in Green that would offer a variety of services, including a 24-hour emergency department, radiology services, a lab, a breast health center, sports medicine, physical therapy and lifestyles, a medically based fitness program. the 98,000-square-foot facility will be modeled after Akron General’s Health and Wellness Centers in Bath and stow, with an additional 42,000-square-foot medical office building. Also expanding is summa Health system, which has opened a 10,000-square-foot facility in medina that houses the first radiation oncology program in central medina County, as well as medina’s first digital mammography suite. the facility also includes summa Health system’s first outpatient surgery center outside of summit County. summa Health system is also building two new full-service emergency departments in medina and Green, and is expanding the existing emergency departments at summa Akron City Hospital, summa Barberton Hospital and summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital. – Jessica Walker


What’s Online
For more of the Greater Akron region’s best qualities, visit the Quality of Life section at


GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide


Affluence and Affordability
greater akron residents enjoy a strong quality of life
story by Kevin Litwin

earching for the right place to put down roots? Look no further than Akron. A recent CNBC poll ranks Akron as one of the best cities in the United States for first-time home buyers. Akron was also listed by Business Week magazine as the eighth most affordable place to buy a home in America. The cost of living in the Greater Akron region is well below the national average, with homes priced from $110,000 to $150,000 in most areas around the city. The average mortgage payment for local homeowners in 2010 was $570 a month. “Upper-scale homes easily cross the $1 million threshold, giving the region a range of housing options to suit any lifestyle,” says Caren Wallace of Stouffer Realty.
the OLd COLLeGe tRy But housing isn’t the only good deal here. Forbes magazine has named Akron the fifth most
JEff Adkins


affordable college town, and The University of Akron was recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the best universities in the entire Midwest. In addition, a University Park Alliance is currently collaborating with government, private and nonprofit organizations to further revitalize the 50-block area around the university.
CULtURed PeARLS Akron city officials are also proud of the arts and culture scene throughout the community, with sites such as the Akron Art Museum, Akron Civic Theatre, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Akron Zoo. Annual events include the All-American Soap Box Derby, a WGC-Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club and a National Hamburger Festival. Akron has a first-class health system in place, plus the city oversees 16 parks. Akron-Canton Airport accommodates 100,000 passengers each year, and the city is within close

the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga valley national Park, ranked among the top 10 most popular national parks in the country, is minutes from downtown Akron.


proximity of major cities such as Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh. “Akron also has a good highway transportation system in place, with short and easy work commutes during the morning and evening hours,” says Rick Rebadow, executive vice president of the Greater Akron Chamber.
A ReGiOn FULL OF AmenitieS Besides Akron, the Greater Akron region that includes Summit, Portage and Medina counties are home to 21 cities – Aurora, Barberton, Brimfield, Brunswick, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Green, Hudson, Kent, Macedonia, Medina, Munroe Falls, New Franklin, Norton, Ravenna, Rittman, Stow, Streetsboro, Tallmadge, Twinsburg and Wadworth. Each of the cities has its own amenities and are nice places to work, live and play. Kent, for example, is home to Kent State University, and the city is undergoing an initiative centered on downtown revitalization thanks to a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money will go toward a proposed Kent Multimodal Transportation Center that will include a bus transfer facility, hotel and conference center, office space and retail stores. The project is scheduled to begin mid-2011 and will create 260 construction jobs and ultimately 700 permanent jobs. “This is one of those once-in-ahundred-years legacy moments that you can tell your grandchildren you were here to see,” says Dave Ruller, Kent city manager. “This money will be a gamechanger. All of the project aspirations for downtown Kent just got catapulted forward and should now be within reach over the next two years.”
PHotos By JEff Adkins

top to bottom: Akron Civic theatre; volunteer Bob dill discusses komar & melamid’s painting, Akron’s Most Wanted, with a group of students at the Akron Art museum.


GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

entertainment Abounds
akron cultural and recreational options are numerous
Busy bodies are a common sight in the Akron area, thanks to several cultural and recreational destinations that people can enjoy. A few of these include:

ohio’s only national park is just a few miles from the heart of Akron’s downtown district. Cuyahoga valley has more than 33,000 acres and draws nearly 2.5 million visitors a year – ranking it among the top 10 most popular national parks in the country. this attraction was constructed in 1929 and underwent a $22.6 million restoration that was completed in 2002. the Akron Civic theatre hosts live entertainment and events that include ballet, jazz concerts, rock performances and touring Broadway shows. the Akron symphony orchestra performs at EJ thomas Hall and

AkROn ARt mUSeUm
Akron Art museum blends an old 1899 post office with a new $35 million addition. “the building is stunning. the lobby is stunning. Events and exhibits are exciting just because they’re in this space,” says Jessie Raynor, director of the Akron Area Arts Alliance.

the Akron Civic theatre, and has been a cultural mainstay in northeast ohio for more than 60 years. the Akron youth orchestra and Akron symphony Chorus are also under the symphony’s umbrella.

Akron residents are within a short drive of Cleveland, where the Browns, indians and Cavaliers play. meanwhile, the University of Akron zips have 15 sports teams, including football, soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, and even a rifle team. Akron is also home to the AllAmerican soap Box derby, as well as the Akron Aeros double-A baseball affiliate of the Cleveland indians, plus championship golf courses that include firestone Country Club. – Kevin Litwin

AkROn CiViC theAtRe

the popular zoo houses more than 700 animals that include penguins, leopards, tigers, jaguars and komodo dragons. the 50-acre Akron zoological Park draws more than 150,000 visitors a year and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

AkROn SymPhOny ORCheStRA



582 654 2156 7 25 37 564 98 7125 19 5000 96 525 3 775 851 9500 45 2750 10500 1 65 2000 92 120 8525 8 465 78
fortune 500 companies with greater akron operations
Learn fun and interesting facts about the greater akron region in the


By the numbers video at


GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide

the Greater Akron region hosts 21,000 businesses, including more than 150 fortune 500 companies, creating an exciting and lively business climate. Comprised of three counties – medina, Portage and summit – the area is proudly known for success in the polymer, liquid crystal and biomedical industries, to name a few.

mediAn hOUSehOLd inCOme

Summit County

mAJOR emPLOyment SeCtORS
manufacturing: 15.7% Health care & social assistance: 14.8% Retail trade: 13.6% Accommodation & food services: 9% Admin, support, waste mgt, remediation services: 5.9% Wholesale trade: 5.7% Professional, scientific & technical services: 5.4% management of companies & enterprises: 5.2% Construction: 5.1% finance & insurance: 4.1% transportation & warehousing: 3.7% information: 1.8% Educational services: 1.4% Arts, entertainment & recreation: 1.3%

emPLOyment (WAGe & SALARy)

medina County

Summit County

Portage County

medina County

Composite: 99 Grocery items: 103 Housing: 97.5 Utilities: 104.5 transportation: 106.8 Health care: 88.3 misc. goods/services: 95.6 U.s. average: 100 Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER)

Portage County


What’s Online
for more in-depth demographic, statistical and community information on the greater akron region, go to and click on demographics.

Akron Children’s Hospital Akron General Health System Albrecht Incorporated Brouse McDowell CB Richard Ellis Church Agency City of Cuyahoga Falls City of Green City of Twinsburg County of Summit Developmental Disabilities Board Dominion FedEx Custom Critical First Merit Bank Huntington National Bank Kent State University Metro Regional Transit Authority NEOUCOM Sheraton Suites Akron – Cuyahoga Falls Summa Health System University of Akron

visit our



Through the Lens

Get the Story behind the Photo
now that you’ve experienced the Greater Akron region through our photos, see it through the eyes of our photographers. visit to view our exclusive photographers’ blog documenting what all went in to capturing those perfect moments.
FROm OUR PhOtO bLOG: GReAteR AkROn eCOnOmiC deVeLOPment GUide
with more than 400 polymer-related enterprises employing more than 35,000 people, it’s no wonder the state of ohio has designated akron a “hub of innovation and opportunity.” the university of akron and kent state university offer renowned polymer and liquid crystal research centers to help make greater akron a global leader in polymer research and engineering. kent state university has discovered many key advances in liquid crystal technology, including the development of electric field-controlled liquid crystal displays and polymer-liquid crystal composites.

POSted by bRiAn mcCORd

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see more favorite photos and read the stories behind the shots at

beads of polymer at diamond Polymers 56

Center for biomaterials in medicine

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Ad Index
4 akron Childrens hosPital C4 akron General health systeM 45 albreCht inCorPorated 19 fedex CustoM CritiCal 53 brouse MCdowell 7 first Merit bank 26 Cb riChard ellis 54 huntinGton national bank 6 ChurCh aGenCy 2 kent state university 8 City of CuyahoGa falls 26 City of Green 9 City of twinsburG C3 Metro reGional transit authority 39 neouCoM 27 County of suMMit develoPMental disabilities board C2 doMinion

Ad Index (cont.)
10 sheraton suites akron – CuyahoGa falls 48 suMMa health systeM 1 university of akron

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