Typically when my phone rings late on Friday afternoon with an urgent message it’s usually not good news but after today I’ll never view Friday calls the same.
This afternoon I received a call from Dan Smith, Kent’s Economic Director, on his way back from the State hearing where our Clean Ohio grant application for $1.34 million was up for consideration. Of course the cell phone connection cut off just as Dan was about to tell me the results of the grant review.
Seriously, it was like a scene from a bad sit com. I kept trying to call him back, text him, anything to find out what happened. Nothing for about 20 minutes — at which time I was ready to fire him, but fortunately for both of us, he finally called me back with great news — our grant request was fully funded at $1.34 million.
This was an extremely important grant because it knocks down the first domino in a series that we’re hoping leads to many new business and new jobs in Kent.
Here’s the domino chain:
– By getting the grant, we can now proceed to work with the property owner on the final soil clean up at the old RB&W site on Mogadore Road.
– The grant funds bring enough new capital to the deal to allow the environmental work to be done so that the site can be transferred to the City for redevelopment.
– The City can then work with a business prospect that has some interest in the location.
– We hope to then package the new business prospect as an anchor tenant in our application for additional State Economic Development Funds which would help us finance phase 1 of the Great Atlantic and Western Business Park.
– The Business Park would serve as a business innovation and incubation center to help emerging technology companies — particularly those companies that spin out of the research from Kent State Univeristy — get a jump start on commercialization of their new products.
– As new businesses graduate out of the early incubation phases of the Business Park we hope to expand the Business Park into a linear advanced materials industrial production hub that extends through the old Kent railroad corridor heading south all the way out to Brimfield creating new clusters of technology based businesses.
Receiving $1.34 million is always a great thing but getting $1.34 million to knock down the first domino that sets our industrial corridor strategy in motion is fantastic.
Here’s a little more insight into the corridor development strategy (and how it builds off our downtown redevelopment efforts and Kent State University) that we’ve been working on for years now.
Industrial Corridor Development
The industrial development corridor (also called the production corridor in the map below, green shading) extends from downtown Kent and runs along the rail lines out to Interstate 76. The City’s industrial development plans create a hub and spoke framework, with the Kent central business district and Kent State University serving as the hub, and business clusters extending outwards through the utility corridors to form the spines of industry activity.
The City’s business development strategy is built on the premise that innovation and business growth enjoy a competitive advantage in places where the specialties of research, technology, commerce and culture are given opportunities to converge. The goal is to create a shared physical environment where people will gather, ideas will cross-pollinate, and innovation becomes a way of life.
Kent supplies that shared space in its vibrant downtown, on the Kent State University campus, in business incubators, and in the many recreational, cultural and social opportunities provided in the Kent community.
The strategy aims to align city, university, and business assets in such a way that Kent, as a place, can be a catalyst for an economic revival that creates jobs, inspires new technologies, spawns entrepreneurship, and keeps Kent the kind of place people are proud to call home. Simply stated the strategy seeks to put Kent’s assets to work for the local, regional and state community.
The goal is to unlock the opportunities of Kent and jump start the region-wide rebuilding process for sustainable economic growth irrespective of the highs and lows off business cycles. Kent’s investments are positioning Kent to be the flagship for the new economy where innovation, entrepreneurship, global reach and leading edge research technology are the drivers of economic success.
Kent is seeking to affirm its role as a place that attracts and retains people and businesses who seek out the energy and culture unique to university locations; seeding the pipeline for emerging business opportunities that generate real growth in the local and regional economy.
The close proximity and connectivity of the industrial corridor to Kent’s downtown and Kent State University puts the Mogadore site in a position to be a catalyst for economic renewal, making this grant one of the most important domino’s we’ve tipped in a long time.