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Akron nonprofit Bounce Innovation Hub receives federal $2 million grant to support more businesses

Home of Akron Bounce
Tim Rudell
The Bounce Innovation Hub is located in downtown Akron and is home to more than 50 businesses, according to its website. Officials hope a new grant will help them renovate the second floor to add more office space.

An Akron nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses in Northeast Ohio has received a major grant to expand its efforts.

The Bounce Innovation Hub and city of Akron received a $2 million grant from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to renovate the second floor of the building where Bounce is housed, according to a news release.

Bounce plans to use the funds to add new office space, conference rooms and classrooms in the facility, which is owned by the city of Akron, said Jessica Sublett, chief operating officer and incoming CEO of Bounce.

“Our space is designed to bring people together, to build community and create connections that otherwise can’t happen if you’re doing everything from behind a computer screen,” Sublett said. “Now is really a natural next step to expand the ability to bring more of the community together.”

The Bounce Innovation Hub was founded in 2018 and offers advising, programming and affordable workspace to local business owners according to Sublett. She says, currently, all offices on the building’s first floor are in use by local businesses, and 50 organizations use the facility for meetings, co-working and office space.

The new grant will allow the nonprofit to expand its capacity on the second floor to support more businesses, she said.

“We can add 10 more private offices and at least another 60 members to be in that second-floor space. We can almost double, if not add more than double the amount of people using the space,” Sublett said.

The grant was offered through the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal COVID-19 relief program that allocates funds to cities, counties and other municipalities.

The project will be almost entirely federally funded, but the city of Akron will provide more than $530,000 in local funds, which is expected to create 100 new jobs, retain 42 jobs and generate $2 million in private investment, according to a news release.

“This funding will help grow community, catalyze innovation, and further support local entrepreneurship at Bounce,” said Akron mayor Dan Horrigan in the release. “We’ve seen incredible success with Bounce so far and this grant will help propel it to the next stage of growth.”

Horrigan and Sublett both thanked U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Howland) and Sen. Sherrod Brown in the release for supporting the project.

“This award from the Economic Development Administration is a great achievement for the city of Akron’s business and economic future,” Rep. Ryan said in the release. “This federal investment will create good-paying jobs, expand job and skills training, and attract new private investment in our community. Northeast Ohio continues to see tremendous economic growth and this investment further underscores the incredible talent of Ohio’s workers and entrepreneurs.”

Bounce staff plan to meet with the EDA officials in early June to set a timeline for the project, Sublett added.

Updated: May 16, 2022 at 4:03 PM EDT
This story has been updated.
Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.