AKRON — What better place to open an office dedicated to helping small and medium manufacturers than in downtown Akron’s historic district that is predominantly about the arts, culture and food?
It actually makes a lot of sense, said people at Wednesday’s dedication of the new business-oriented space.
MAGNET, the Cleveland-based Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, opened its new Akron office late Wednesday afternoon at 9 N. Main St., just around the corner and below the Blu Jazz+ club and Blu Plate restaurant.
"Welcome to the crossroads of commerce and culture," said Tony Troppe, the local developer whose building at Main and Market houses the MAGNET office and whose holdings include Blu Jazz+, Blu Plate and other nearby properties and venues. Troppe said while the building dates back to 1871, it is now very much about the future and knowledge workers.
MAGNET’s new office "is a very important move for the region," Troppe said after the ceremony.
"By them putting their front door at our front door, at the front door to a city of the future, it tells us that we’re on the right track," Troppe said. "And I’m pleased that they’ve integrated into our historic arts district because it’s really a nice continuum of the energy that creates a great place. So we’re celebrating the arts but we’re celebrating the creative and inventive and innovative arts. And that’s our mission, that’s our message."
MAGNET’S 1,000-square-foot space will showcase displays for Akron-area manufacturers, with staff helping businesses with such things as workforce development, innovation and engineering.
The office now has one full-time staffer, with plans to hire two more people, while enabling Summit County businesses to better use the services of the organization’s 40 "growth advisors."
"Most of what we do takes place outside of the office and it takes place at the actual manufacturer that we are engaging with," said Darlyn McDermott, a growth advisor and market leader for MAGNET’s southern region.
MAGNET, founded in 1984, provides support, advice and services to manufacturers in 18 Northeast Ohio counties.
The office is part an effort to help make MAGNET more well known to the Akron area’s thousands of manufacturers.
"For far too long we have not had a physical presence in Akron," said Ethan Karp, MAGNET’s chief executive officer. "We’ve always been serving the region, and frankly we have served more folks outside of Akron and its environs than we have inside. And we think it’s about time that we change that. One of the ways we’re doing that is bringing in Darlyn, one of the big ways we’re doing that is with a physical presence."
Karp also said MAGNET and Akron’s new Bounce innovation hub will soon hire and share an employee.
The employee will work out of Bounce in the former BF Goodrich complex off South Main Street and work with startups and entrepreneurs there, he said. The employee will be a "portal" to MAGNET to help startups and entrepreneurs with the manufacturing of their products, Karp said.
Besides McDermott, Karp and Troppe, the dedication speakers included Akron Deputy Mayor Sam DeShazior; Steve Millard, the new chief executive officer of the Greater Akron Chamber; Sue Lacy, president of local workforce organization ConxusNEO; and others.
Attendees toured the office and then networked at Blu Jazz+ and Blu Plate.
Reporter Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ