Akron: From Rust Belt to Polymers and Bioenergy

Hit hard by the loss of industrial jobs, Akron is steadily restoring its economy with ingenious technologies like biogas, polymers and biomedical applications.

Renewable energy is one example. Having the country’s only biogas facility, Akron receives some of its electricity through a partnership with KB BioEnergy, which generates power via the decomposition of sludge.

Polymers are another. Several years ago the University of Akron launched the National Polymer Innovation Center, where engineers find polymer applications in health, energy and sustainability. The center has spun off 400 polymer-related companies in the Akron area.

Akron has earned three All-America City Awards for its forward thinking and ability to work as a community to identify and tackle challenges.

Business Assets

  • University of Akron Research Foundation: Promotes the development and commercialization of UA inventions, including an adhesive developed by an engineering professor that recently earned a $736,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
  • Technology Bridges: Forges strong international technology connections that facilitate global export opportunities while reducing the risk of going global.
  • Akron Women in Tech: A non-profit that helps women learn to code websites and mobile applications and shrink the gender gap in the tech industry.

 Major companies

Once known as the “Rubber Capital of the World,” Akron used to be the headquarters of four of the world’s largest rubber and tire companies. Now, only one of them remains.

  • Goodyear Tire and Rubber co.
  • FirstEnergy Corp.
  • FirstMerit Bank

Business Information Links

CoWork Places

cowork space

Startup Incubators

  • Launch League: Helps early stage scalable startups acquire talent and funding and engage the community.
  • Akron Global Business Accelerator: Offers below-market rates for lab, manufacturing and office space for startups and early-stage companies in biomedical, energy, advanced materials, IT and electronics.
  • The Bit Factory: Provides acceleration, customized milestone-based plans, active mentorship and funding for promising tech startups.

Major Attractions

  • Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens: An historic country estate in the Sand Run Metro Park with 104 acres with hiking trails, three ponds, gardens and a conservatory.
  • Akron Art Museum: Modern art showcased in a magnificent soaring glass and steel structure.
  • Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area: A 110 mile park containing the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, America’s Byway motor route and the Towpath Trail for birding, biking, hiking, running, horseback riding and canal boat rides.

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This post is by Caren Burmeister. Caren is a retired newspaper reporter turned freelance writer who enjoys yoga and caring for her two fat cats.