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Policy Implications from the Building Prosperity in Greater Akron Forum

On Tuesday January 18, 2011, Greater Ohio Policy Center co-hosted the Building Prosperity to Greater Akron Forum.  Over two hundred people attended this event and helped frame new approaches to ensure a strong future for the Akron Metro Region by preparing for the next economy.  The Akron Beacon Journal article from the event quoted Greater Ohio Policy Center’s executive director Lavea Brachman saying, ''We want to draw attention to great attributes and challenges of our cities and metropolitan areas […] What better place to do that than in Akron.''

Keynote speaker Paul Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation, discussed the innovative use of metrics to guide policy decisions and invest in city issues.  Other speakers included Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, Congresswoman Betty Sutton, Carol Coletta of CEOs for Cities, Dr. Frank Douglas of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Ross DeVol of the Milken Institute and Ned Hill of Cleveland State University.  For a complete list of speakers, please see the agenda.

Some of the key issues that were arose include the central importance of education and workforce development, the need for product development and jobs to attract residents to the Akron metro region, continued investment in Akron’s assets and areas of expertise (such as corrosion prevention), increased regional partnerships, the key role of Quality of Place as a business proposition, and better cooperation between the state and the Greater Akron area.

Some radical proposals were debated, such as: reduce the number of counties in the state by setting a minimum population of 750,000; review the cost of the judicial system; and return the oversight of welfare programs to the state instead of counties.

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But we want to hear what you think!  In your opinion, what is the most important issue?  What are key policies that need to be added or changed in order to help build prosperity in Akron?  What best practices need replication and support?  What state policy barriers do you face that need to be resolved?   As our work progresses, we want to include your thoughts and perspectives.  Thank you for sharing your ideas and working together to build prosperity.