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Economy and Business

Akron to create a new Cascade Plaza
City offers to create new park-like plaza below FirstMerit's tower.

Mark Urycki
Cascade Plaza at the 1977 WAUP Jazz Fest with U of Akron Jazz Lab Band in foreground.
Courtesy of mark urycki
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In The Region:

Whenever a local company is bought or merges with another, there is fear that it may move its headquarters out of town. So it was a relief to Akronites when FirstMerit announced it would remain in the city after merging with Michigan-based Citizens Republic Bancorp. WKSU' Mark Urycki reports the city of Akron offered some incentives to stay.

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One common incentive that local governments give to businesses is tax-increment financing, in which the government uses a company’s taxes to build infrastructure the company needs.

This time, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic is  asking City Council to help revamp a public square located at the base of the bank’s building on Main Street. Cascade Plaza was built in the 1970s and once served as the gathering point for outdoor entertainment downtown. It even had an ice rink in the winter months.

But Plusquellic says the area is deteriorating and needs to be rebuilt. The plaza acts as a roof over a parking deck. Plusquellic wants a more green, park-like environment for the plaza, and the city is now accepting design proposals.

In a statement, Plusquellic said, "Throughout my travels to different cities, I have seen the positive impact a nice downtown park-like setting can make to an otherwise brick-and-mortar downtown. We want our employees and visitors to use this new space to eat lunch, take a walk, and enjoy their time in our city. Right now, Cascade Plaza is merely being used as a glorified sidewalk.”

FirstMerit employs about 2,000 full time workers and expects to bring in another 150 after the merger. Both the city and the state are providing the company Job Creation Tax Credits to pay for the relocation.  

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