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Better Block Offers Grants for Akron's Copley Road Businesses

Rendering of proposed Copley Road Better Block.

Akron leaders from Summit County Think Tank Coalition and the Progressive Alliance Community Development Corp. are working with the Knight Foundation to shape Summit County’s 5th Better Block Festival on Copley Road.

The Copley Road Better Block will take place May 24-25 between Frederick Boulevard and South Hawkins Avenue.

Leading up to the festival, Copley Road businesses are invited to apply for grants of up to $500 to make long-term improvements such as lighting, entryways or beautification.

The nonprofit Better Block helps reinvigorate neighborhoods and city districts by bringing people together.

E.J. Brinson, one of the organizers, says revitalizing Copley Road is important: 

“You have some blight in the area, you have vacancies. It’s a great business district but just hasn’t received the funding or attention that other communities have had,” he said. “I grew up on the west side of Akron. I know how important the community is and to be able to be an instrument of change for that matters.”

To determine what the two-day festival should offer, organizers surveyed the community to find out what residents believe prevents Copley Road’s success. The top factor was crime, so a police substation will be set up during the Better Block.

“We’re turning that police substation into a resources area,” Brinson said. “We have the honorable [Probate] Judge [Elinore Marsh] Stormer is going have someone there,  [Summit County Executive] Ilene Shapiro is on board, we have Ohio Means Jobs is going to be there to talk to people. We want to make things accessible for the community.”

To encourage interaction between the community and the police force, a flag football game is also being planned.

Apply for a Copley Road Better Block business grant online here.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct dates.