As many midsize post-industrial cities have struggled to forge new economic identities out of their manufacturing pasts in recent decades, Akron, Ohio, has frequently been pointed to as a success story.
A 2008 Brookings Institution paper cited Akron as a model of “how cities could recover from the decline of their city’s primary economic engine” and suggested that Akron was “on the road to a full turnaround.”
Nearly eight years later, a less-glowing report suggests that Akron’s struggles with housing, employment and developing a thriving downtown are causing the city to fall behind.
The new “62.4 Report” (the figure references the city’s size in square miles) compares Akron’s economic health to five peer cities — Erie, Pennsylvania; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Hamilton, Ohio; Syracuse, New York; and Worcester, Massachusetts.
The report finds that Akron and its residents are experiencing a “troubling decline in economic health.”
However, “62.4” is more warning signal than death knell. The city has launched a number of promising initiatives and programs in recent years, and the authors believe Akron has the potential to grow into a thriving, urban center.