National Business Incubation Association; Your source for knowledge and networks in business incubation

Incubator promotes new economic identity for Ohio city

by Mary Jo Milillo

February/March 2009

The Akron Global Business Accelerator’s Global Technology Commercialization Initiative, winner of NBIA’s 2008 Incubator Innovation Award, is leading the transformation of Akron, Ohio, from a manufacturing economy to one that’s cutting-edge, technology-driven and based in biomedical research – a bold and innovative step with a two-year record of success.

Once known as the “Rubber Capital of the World,” Akron was struck a huge blow when the B.F. Goodrich Tire & Rubber Co. announced in 1983 that it was closing its Akron manufacturing operations. Over the next few months, more than 12,000 jobs in the city vanished.

As a response to these job losses, the University of Akron, the city of Akron and Summit County formed a partnership to create the Akron Industrial Incubator, initially named the Akron-Summit Business Incubator. The 30,000-square-foot incubator operated as a mixed-use organization, attracting light manufacturing, assembly and chain distribution start-ups. It was fully occupied 18 months after it opened in a former steel warehouse owned by the University of Akron.

To meet the need for additional space, the incubator moved in 1990 to a 60,000-square-foot building that once housed a department store in the city’s central business district. Although the structure did not meet all the incubator’s needs, the building provided more space and gave Incubator Director Mike LeHere time to identify a place that could meet the needs of various types of businesses.

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Keywords: best practices, economic development, soft landings, technology incubator

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