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Akron Hopes for a Bounce in Economic Development

Looking north toward the University of Akron
Akron Global Business Accelerator
View of Akron from the roof of the Global Business Accelerator, the building where Bounce will be headquartered

Akron is looking to get a Bounce. That’s actually the name of a project announced last month by Mayor Dan Horrigan.  It’s aimed at energizing business development in the Akron area.  The idea is to create an innovation hub in the city.  The mayor and the head of a D.C.-based venture fund advising the city spoke of the start-up effort.

Dan Horrigan in his City Hall conference room
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan

“Critical mass” and “curated collision.”  Those are key phrases that came up in the conversation at City Hall with Mayor Horrigan and David Zipper, managing director of the 1776 Venture Fund.  Critical mass refers to pulling together the necessary participants to get what amounts to a free-wheeling idea-incubator going, and curated collision refers to bringing the ideas together. 

Zipper says Bounce will attract and focus entrepreneurship because it will be what he calls an open-concept setting built to foster idea exchanges.

Zipper says critical mass is better felt than explained.

"If Bounce is designed in the right way, when you step in the doors you feel something different. And you are observing something you may not even fully understand, but you recognize that this is not just another office space in northeast Ohio.”

Horrigan added that Akron's innovation history helps.

"We have a rich culture of business development that has lasted for a 125 years. Corporate and even small- and medium-size companies that have developed ideas that have changed the face of transportation, polymers, tires and everything. How do they take that idea and say, “Dd you ever think about this?' And that’s the curated collision that we’re talking about.”

Bounce consultant David Zipper
Credit Twitter.com
David Zipper, Managing Director, 1776 Fund

Zipper says connections will be key.

“One of the fundamental goals of Bounce is to have as its design purpose programing and events to facilitate those kinds of connections.”

The mayor says the city will fund programming and a staffer by reallocating economic development money.

"Also, there is the value of the membership from the corporate community and foundations.”

Bounce is scheduled to open downtown in January.