Akron, Ohio, February 26, 2020 – Today at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron, Mayor Dan Horrigan offered his 2020 State of the City Address to a crowd of one thousand business, community, and neighborhood leaders. Mayor Horrigan, who is at the beginning of this second term as Akron’s 62nd mayor, provided the crowd with a poignant look back at the accomplishments of his first term, and a daring and authentic set of priorities for Akron in the coming year and beyond.
Mayor Horrigan opened by remarking how the birth of his first grandchild has given him a new and clearer perspective, one that is infinitely oriented toward the future. “I am struck by what my parents’ generation did for us, what I’ve tried to do for my children, and what we all must do for the generations yet to come. I marvel at how Akron has transformed itself time and time again,” Horrigan said. “These first four years have yielded significant change and growth. Together, we’ve taken productive steps towards building a better Akron.”
Mayor Horrigan outlined some of the key initiatives launched during his first term and how those initiatives are beginning to bear fruit:
The Safety and Streets initiative has resulted in more than $28 million being directly invested in police, fire and street improvements in Akron.
The City has reduced the cost of the federally-mandated sewer program by $160 million to date.
The Age Friendly Akron initiative, the Youth Violence Prevention Plan and the Akron Financial Empowerment Center are connecting our residents to important resources to help our community thrive.
Thanks to the work of Full Term First Birthday, Akron now has one of the lowest premature birth rates in Ohio, and the Black infant mortality rate has dropped 16% since 2017.
Major construction projects like the Main Street Corridor project, the Bowery, and the new Amazon distribution center are nearing completion.
Meanwhile, Bounce and Great Streets Akron have both led to a surge of entrepreneurial growth. Companies at Bounce provide more than 270 jobs, and they are on track to surpass their goal of 25 million dollars in annual startup revenue. Bounce has fully embraced the Elevate Akron strategy and today, Mayor Horrigan announced that 50 percent of the client companies at Bounce are female or minority-owned.
“Now is the time to go even deeper on what we’ve started as a community,” Mayor Horrigan said. “The focus of my second term will be high-quality execution of those initiatives currently in motion.”
In terms of expanding economic opportunity, a new program announced this week–Rubber City Match—will take the City’s commitment to the next level by providing four award levels for new and expanding businesses looking to locate within our Great Streets business districts. In the area of housing, Mayor Horrigan previewed the summer release of Planning to Grow Akron 2.0, which will recommend interventions meant to bridge the investment gap in our neighborhoods and incentivize the private sector to assist property owners in rehabbing our historic housing stock. He also outlined his plan to convene landlords in a town hall discussion, to engage in productive conversations with local property owners about Akron’s rental market and high eviction rate.
In the area of safety, Mayor Horrigan confirmed his commitment to preserving and improving the security of every citizen in every neighborhood. He announced plans to complete the design for the new Fire station 12 in Wallhaven this year, with construction to start in 2021. He also announced that through the new police class hired in 2019, and with additional expected hires in the next 18 months, the City will maintain its number of uniformed police officers at the highest level in over a decade. “Our department, our citizens, and our businesses deserve no less,” he added. “Thanks to the Akron voters, we have the resources we need to support these strategic investments in our community’s safety.”
Mayor Horrigan highlighted the importance of a complete and accurate 2020 Census to everything from federal food and housing assistance, to public schools and legislative districts, and encouraged the entire community to explore how they can help. Finally, with a view toward equity and inclusion, Mayor Horrigan laid out his priorities for the 2020 Charter Review Commission, which will be making Charter amendment recommendations to Akron City Council this July. Horrigan highlighted two major areas of reform: how the City contracts for goods and services, and how the City hires and retains its workforce.
“At the beginning of every decade we are afforded the opportunity to look at our founding document and ask ourselves how we can do better for our citizens.” This year, the focus will be on enacting modern practices that enhance efficiency and opportunity for all Akron residents and businesses.
To support his proposals, Mayor Horrigan shared disturbing data that shows that minority-owned businesses are not getting a fair share of City contracts, and announced his leadership to ensure that this changes. A full report will be released this spring, which will lay out existing challenges and a specific plan for improvement, including charter changes.
And in terms of City employment, hiring rules designed before WWII have proven to be outdated and inefficient. “I will never reduce the protections for City workers that keep politics out of city operations or ensure we are selecting the best qualified candidates for each job. But we will do what it takes to create a diverse, agile, and effective workforce,” Mayor Horrigan pledged.
A full copy of Mayor Horrigan’s 2020 State of the City Speech is available here.
For more information on the key initiatives discussed in the speech, or for ways to get involved, please visit www.akronohio.gov/2020.
For further information, contact:
Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary & Senior Strategic Counsel