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Kenmore Hopes New Amazon Jobs Will Help Revitalize Neighborhood

a photo of Kenmore Boulevard businesses
The Kenmore neighborhood hopes to serve Amazon employees with a new restaurant and coffee shop as well as other small businesses.

The announcement that Amazon is building a new fulfillment center and bringing 1,500 jobs to the former Rolling Acres Mall site in Akron, has businesses in neighboring Kenmore seeing opportunity.  

The Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance is cautiously optimistic about the impact the world's largest retailer could have. 

Amazon is usually known for squeezing out small businesses, not helping them thrive.

But Tina Boyes, executive director of the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, thinks the influx of new workers just two miles away could dovetail with Kenmore’s small business revitalization.

"Because 1,500 jobs increases our market demand. And some of the things we’ve been looking to do like creating more restaurant opportunities on Kenmore Boulevard, cafés, coffee shops; this really plays into that well," Boyes said.

She hopes to partner with Amazon to help drive its workers to support small businesses in the neighborhood. 

"The irony of having the world’s largest online retailer move into your neighborhood at the same time you’re trying to revive a small business district; that is not lost on us."

For about 15 years Kenmore’s business district has been without a coffee shop or a sit-down restaurant.

Boyes said there are plans to open both by November.

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.