Opportunity Akron

The Goal

Be highly intentional in ensuring the black population is positioned to engage in, and share in the benefits of, regional growth and prosperity. Focus on identifying, fostering relationships with Black residents, connecting them to opportunity and supporting/advancing the growth of their businesses.

Why this strategy?

Much of Akron, particularly its Black population, is excluded from economic opportunity. Akron’s economy cannot succeed if 31% of its residents are not succeeding.

Why this strategy?

Much of Akron, particularly its Black population, is excluded from economic opportunity. Akron’s economy cannot succeed if 31% of its residents are not succeeding.

Of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas from 2005 to 2015, Akron ranked among the 10 worst metro areas for the decline in the Black employment rate.

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Of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas from 2005 to 2015, Akron ranked among the five worst for the decline in Black earnings.

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The City of Akron ranked at the 52nd percentile for econmic inclusion overall, but the 73rd percentile for racial inclusion.

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These statistics predate Covid-19, which has had an outsized negative effect on the local and national Black community.

Nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic and African American workers are employed in service industry jobs compared to 16% of Caucasians.

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In the health industry, African Americans make up 12% of all employed workers, but account for 30% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

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This means the minority population is overrepresented in two major workforce sectors that were considered to be essential during the height of the pandemic.

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How We're Driving This Work

This work was initiated with the hiring of an experienced individual to lead the inclusion efforts. In June 2019, the Greater Akron Chamber hired Robert DeJournett as the Vice President, Opportunity and Inclusion. Robert, who brings decades of experience in community outreach related to public health, works collaboratively across the Chamber, City of Akron, Summit County, and other partners to advance equity and inclusion in the region.

Opportunity Akron Strategy Team

In early 2019, the Opportunity Akron Strategy Team was formed and tasked with driving and overseeing the Opportunity Akron component of the Elevate Greater Akron plan. This Team is comprised of a diverse subset of business, civic, and community leaders who hold the Elevate Greater Akron plan and team accountable for advancing efforts to create an inclusive economy.

Racial Equity Study

The initial Elevate Greater Akron research identified disparities between the Black and White populations in Greater Akron, relative to their ability to participate in and benefit from the economy. To be effective in our approach to racial equity and inclusion, we engaged outside consultants to conduct research on the inequities and their corresponding implications. This work was completed in 2019 and served as the basis for the inclusion efforts moving forward.

Inclusion Narrative

The racial equity study was transformed into the Inclusion Narrative, which tells the story of the racial inequities in Greater Akron and reiterates the critical nature of addressing these issues from both a moral and economic imperative. The Inclusion Narrative was released officially in 2020.

Equity and Inclusion Committee

To help drive the recommendations from the equity study and for broader business community, the Greater Akron Chamber formed the Equity and Inclusion committee. This committee is comprised of approximately 50 business and community leaders who work to drive the inclusion efforts and ensure the business community is well informed of the issues and resources available to them to address racial inequity.

Diversity Professional Roundtable

This is a subcommittee of the Equity and Inclusion Committee, focused on changing Corporate Norms to be more welcoming to inclusion efforts. The roundtable is inclusive of organizational Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Professionals, HR Professionals, or others leading D&I work efforts within their organizations.

Storytelling

Through our #ChooseGroothAkron initiative, we are leveraging storytelling to increase visibility of minority-owned businesses and reinforcing the notion that Greater Akron is a place where businesses can grow and are supported in their growth.

GAC Inclusion Marketplace

Through a collaboration with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, we are able to offer a regional online MBE supplier database. The database is beneficial to both minority and women suppliers looking for new opportunities and buyers looking to diversify their procurement.

GAC Diversity Assessment

Collaborating with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, we offer a diversity assessment for companies in Greater Akron. The assessment is a great first step for companies, or for companies who may be well advanced in their D&I journey, to become more diverse and inclusive. The assessment is completely confidential and will show you how you compare anonymously to others in your industry.

How can this work benefit you?

Elevate Greater Akron works to create opportunities throughout our regional
ecosystem that benefit individuals and businesses alike.

Are you an individual seeking employment or an employer seeking to fill positions?

RAISE Good Jobs Akron

Connect as an individual seeking employment or an employer seeking to fill positions.

Learn More Here

Are you a company seeking to increase your diversity and inclusion efforts?

GAC Diversity Assesment

As an organization striving to become more inclusive, this confidential assessment will help you get started.

Learn More Here

GAC Marketplace

This is an online MBE supplier database. You can sign up both as a supplier or a buyer to maximize supplier diversity opportunity.

Learn More Here

Inclusion Narrative

The goal of this narrative is to help the region understand our current state of equity and to shed light on the role inclusion can play in Greater Akron’s growth.

Learn More Here

Are you a minority owned company seeking advanced opportunities?

MCCAP Program

To assist minority contractors seeking to bid on public sector projects, MCCAP was created. It offers financial and technical assistance to Akron and Summit County-based minority, women, LGBTQ+, Veteran, and Disabled-owned contracting businesses.

Learn More Here

MBE Growth Story

Submit a growth story of a minority entrepreneur or business to be featured in the storytelling initiative #ChooseGrowth.

Learn More Here