When people first experience Akron, Ohio, many are surprised by the passion of those who live and work here. Passion for growth. Passion for arts and culture. Passion for community.
This passion has led to a vision for Akron as a destination for talented young people and a connected community for residents of all backgrounds.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition helps build communities such as Akron, which is located in the heart of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area. Since its establishment in 1989, the coalition has helped leverage more than $300 million of investment in communities throughout the National Heritage Area in Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark and Tuscarawas counties.
Along with developing communities, the coalition develops the Towpath Trail, the centerpiece of the National Heritage Area which, when complete, will span 101 miles from Cleveland to New Philadelphia.
With the Towpath Trail now complete, we are faced with questions about how the Towpath Trail can better serve the more than 2.5 million community members and visitors who use it each year.
What connections and enhancements can we make to improve living throughout the neighborhoods? With support from Knight Foundation, we launched a project called iTowpath to address these questions, developing the trail even further between the Northside District, downtown and Summit Lake, while advancing community and economic development in Akron.
Today, the city is banking on the Ohio and Erie Canalway becoming an economic boon once again — with the Towpath Trail central to its vision.
“Really this is the most affordable and free recreational resource that’s accessible to everybody,” says Dan Rice, CEO of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition (OECC), a conservation nonprofit that has been developing the trail since 1989. “And people not only use the Towpath Trail as a recreation resource, they also use it as a transportation resource.”