Summit County’s Future Looks Bright: A View from Downtown Cuyahoga Falls

Guest Blogger: Abby Poeske
Executive Director, Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership

The next year -and the next decade- is looking bright for Summit County.  As the leader of the Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership, an organization focused on economic and community development in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls, what I’ve witnessed the past 6 months has given me enormous hope for the future of the greater Akron area. If what I see happening on Front Street is a microcosm of what’s happening county-wide, then the potential of Summit County is limitless. This boundless capacity is due to the collaborative, supportive nature of our organizations and stakeholders.

The Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership is a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing historic Downtown Cuyahoga Falls and its riverfront. As a Partnership, it’s not surprising that we do a lot of…well…partnering. In our first few months as a registered 501c3, we’ve depended upon and grown through alliances with local small businesses, the City, and other nonprofit organizations. With these collaborators, we have been able to host haunted historical walking tours (Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society), a vintage day (Western Reserve Hospital), a successful small business Saturday (local businesses), a jingle dog parade (City of Cuyahoga Falls, local businesses, AND other nonprofits), and an experiential learning project (Kent State University). We plan for much more to come in 2020 with the Cuyahoga Falls Library, Collide, the Cuyahoga Valley Arts Center, Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce, Cuyahoga Falls and Woodridge High Schools, and New Territory–plus the usual suspects.

Partnerships increase capacity and creativity. They make the impossible not only possible, but usually a lot more fun. We can’t do it all alone, and even if we could, why should we? Our partners bring additional perspectives, stakeholders, resources, and muscle. As the Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership takes a deep dive into economic development and place-making downtown in 2020, we will succeed because we can depend on meaningful and effective collaborations with other institutions. 

The power of partnerships is likely obvious and needs not to be explained to you. But, if you take a step back, you’ll see that the work that the Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership does with its collaborators is reflective of the work happening across the greater Akron area.

Across Summit County, you will find nonprofits coming together to find innovative solutions to complex and systemic problems. You’ll see small businesses and educational institutions working together to retain bright young talent. You can watch our large corporations support the efforts of start-ups and entrepreneurs.  And, in unprecedented ways, you’ll find a foundation, a city, a county, and a chamber of commerce come together to drive economic development. That doesn’t even cover the mentorships, leadership development, and sharing of resources happening more organically.

While partnering is what we do at the Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership (due to the aforementioned reasons, since it’s in our name, and because as a one-woman organization I can’t afford not to), it’s also what greater Akron does. And these partnerships are going to help us fulfill all our missions to make our County and our community brighter for all, for the next year and for the next decade.