In second annual address, Horrigan seeks partners in a new Akron economy

Akron Beacon Journal/ – February 28, 2018 – Akron, Ohio

In his state of the city address last year, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan asked “Why not Akron?” This year, he stayed true to a New Year’s resolution and just asked for help.

In a 40-minute speech followed by questions from a lunch crowd of 900 at the John S. Knight Center Wednesday, Horrigan recapped the successes of 2017, his second full year in office. He offered another sober account of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. And he repeatedly asked for partners in a Rubber City revival.

“I rejoice with you in our victories and I cry alongside you in our losses,” he said. “I stay up nights worrying about our city’s future. And I wake up each and every damn day to live and breathe every one of the city’s ups and downs.

“Akron is my home. And I will fight for the city every day of my life.”

Horrigan challenged every philanthropist, developer, government official, pastor, resident and laborer in the crowd and online listeners to ask, perhaps uncomfortably, whether the businesses, organizations and institutions they belong to are ready to move Akron toward an ever globalized and entrepreneurial economy.

If he wanted to explain everything the city has done for entrepreneurs in just the past few months, Horrigan could have just told everyone to talk to Bill Myers after the speech.

2018 plans

Introduced for a second year by Greater Akron Chamber Chairman Don Taylor, chief executive of Welty Building Co., Horrigan explained how he plans to grow the city’s economy, which shot up in 2016 then down in 2017, and population, which flat-lined last year after falling for decades.

“For my part, I am committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that city government becomes more focused, more entrepreneurial, more collaborative and more adaptive,” he said, evoking the “grit, determination and ingenuity” of Akron’s resilient roots and rubber past.

The plan, in a nutshell, includes doubling down on housing and economic efforts — like eBay, Bounce and the Northside Marketplace — that attract and retain young talent in a city with space and equity for all.

By Doug Livingston