Jennifer Conn

Akron Reporter

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter. 

A Northeast Ohio native, Jennifer has covered Akron news for cleveland.com and Crain’s Akron Business. She was also a member of the inaugural staff of The Devil Strip, and wrote long-form features on Akron’s burgeoning music scene, the city’s punk roots and its historic downtown.

Earlier in her career, Jennifer was a business reporter for Crain Communications’ national trade magazines, covering scrap metal, recycling and municipal incineration for Waste News and the retail tire industry for Tire Business. She also served as regional reporter for Record Publishing’s weekly newspapers.

As a freelance writer, Jennifer has covered numerous industries, including the automotive after-market, cyber security, herbal healing and the environment. Her features have also appeared in literary magazines, including Belt Akron

As a communications professional, Jennifer was vice president of communications at Akron Community Foundation, and  senior communications development officer at the Summa Hospitals Foundation. She also served as senior writer at AKHIA Public Relations and Marketing Communications.

Jennifer also worked as an adjunct professor at Kent State and the University of Akron, teaching newswriting, English composition and English as a Second Language.   

She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in journalism from Kent State University. She is currently working on a post master’s certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language.

She is a Cuyahoga Valley National Park enthusiast, owns two kayaks (one banana yellow, one psychedelic purple)  and served on the board that launched Akron's dog park.

Ways to Connect

akron press club debate
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Supporting Akron’s downtown businesses during reconstruction, revitalizing neighborhoods and allocating settlement money from Summit County’s opioid lawsuit were among topics addressed during a mayoral debate Wednesday hosted by the Akron Press Club.

Incumbent Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Republican challenger Josh Sines faced off at Quaker Station.

The candidates were asked whether Akron’s already high water and sewer rates would increase over the next four years.

Mayor Dan Horrigan said they would not increase before 2021.

a photo of Akron mayor dan horrigan
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Akronites can expect to see a big improvement over last year in snow and ice removal, according to a plan city officials rolled out Wednesday.

The new strategy is in answer to public outcry over sluggish snow removal from city streets during a major storm last January.

kayakers in the Cuyahoga River
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The Cuyahoga River is now officially the 13th water trail in the state of Ohio. The designation was celebrated with a ribbon cutting at Water Works Park in Cuyahoga Falls.

Some of the participants in the designation ceremony paddled to the site at the Peninsula shelter next to the river.

Fifty years after it last burned the crooked river’s transformation from ecological disaster zone to water trail will lead to better management and a better user experience, according to Andrea Irland. She is an outdoor recreation planner for the National Park Service. 

a photo of the stone amphitheater at Chestnut Ridge Park
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The Akron Parks Challenge asks the community to envision how to better use the city’s neighborhood parks. In Kenmore, residents are restoring a long-neglected gem.

a photo of the rendering fo the new Smith's headquarters
SUMMIT COUNTY

Summit county leaders have revealed more details about plans for Smither’s, Akron’s long-time research firm, to move its world headquarters from West Market Street to downtown.  

In a transaction involving the county, the city, the Development Finance Authority and several others, the company will renovate and occupy the former Austen BioInnovation Institute at 47 N. Main St. The plan includes tearing down the old trolley barn and constructing a new research & development facility.

Akron Fire Station 4
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The city of Akron invited residents to have a look inside its two new fire stations at ribbon cutting ceremonies Thursday.

Residents got to see how the city is spending Issue 4 money at the fire stations in Middlebury and downtown.

A photo of Ilene Shapiro
COLLEEN KELLY / OFFICE OF SUMMIT COUNTY EXECUTIVE

Redevelopment of the former Austen BioInnovation Institute into the new world headquarters for the Smithers Group laboratory testing companies was among the announcements Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro made at her annual state of the county address.

photo of people on the splash pad
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Kids living near Joy Park Community Center in East Akron got a chance to try out the city’s first splash pad.

With temperatures around 90 degrees Tuesday, Mayor Dan Horrigan was pleased to see kids enjoying the cool water.

“Kid tested, mayor approved!” he said as kids ran onto the pad. Water shot upward from jets in the 1,600 square-foot concrete pad while decorative fixtures created a shower with the spray. A red frog bubbled water for smaller kids.

photo of Vireo Health's renovated building
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Minneapolis-based Vireo Health has received the go-ahead from the state of Ohio to open Akron’s first medical marijuana processing facility.

The publicly traded company will operate its subsidiary, Ohio Medical Solutions, from a former factory building on Tallmadge Avenue in North Akron. The renovated facility now houses a state of the art manufacturing operation with high-tech security.  

synapse art and science image
MICHELLE SEGRE / UNIVERSITY OF AKRON

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced 36 finalists were chosen in the 2019 Knight Arts Challenge Akron.

The arts challenge seeks out ideas that connect people to each other and to place to ultimately strengthen communities. The winners get a share of $1 million to help them bring their ideas to life.

In three preceding challenges, Knight awarded nearly $3 million for 63 ideas in Akron.

Akron green storm water system design
AKRON WATERWAYS RENEWED!

Akron officials are awaiting approval from a federal court on proposed money-saving modifications to the city’s massive sewer project. The US and Ohio EPAs approved the changes last year.

Akron, like many cities across the nation, is under a federal mandate to update its infrastructure to stop old sewers from releasing combined storm water and sewage into the Cuyahoga River by 2028. 

a photo of a horse drawn plough at Akron North High School
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

It's a sight you wouldn’t expect to see in Akron.

Students and teachers at North High School watched as two sturdy white horses pulled an old fashioned plough, preparing the ground for an urban farm that will enable students to learn about growing, preparing and marketing food.

Akron Public Schools will work with nonprofit Shanti Farms to teach students in all grades aspects of farming, from sampling soil to preparing food. 

a new medical lab at Stark State College Akron
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Stark State College Akron has finished construction on the final phase of its building in time to welcome students for the fall semester.

Akron's Hope & Healing Battered Women's Shelter
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Workers from Akron’s Hope & Healing Battered Women’s Shelter are visiting Summit County bars in the area’s first Bar Outreach Project to educate people about date rape drugs.

Odorless, colorless and tasteless drugs are sometimes put in alcoholic drinks and are undetectable 36 hours after they have been ingested, the shelter reports.

During the project, the shelter will educate bar employees on ways to protect patrons and detect if their customers have been exposed.

Akron Water Department workers give a presentation
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The Akron Water Department is looking to install “smart” water meters across the city, enabling residents and businesses to monitor their water usage in real-time, potentially saving money.

The city said the 85,000 meters the water department installed about 15 years ago are starting to fail, costing about $200,000 a year in maintenance.

sattelite image of Randall Park Mall
GOOGLE MAPS

When Amazon opens its new fulfillment facility in Akron, it will be the third in Northeast Ohio. One in Euclid is preparing to launch, and one in North Randall opened in October 2018. All three are sited where shopping malls used to be.

In North Randall, Mayor David Smith said Amazon has exceeded the city’s expectations.

old Rolling Acres Mall on Romig Road in Akron
GOOGLE EARTH

It’s finally official — Amazon is coming to Akron and bringing about 1,500 full-time jobs with it. 

Amazon announced early Monday that construction will soon begin on a 700,000 square-foot distribution facility on the site of the former Rolling Acres Mall.

photo of student climate protest in Cleveland
CHLOE FRIEDLAND

Fifty years ago a burning river mobilized a generation of environmental activism. Citizens pushed for new laws to regulate pollution, and our water and air has gotten cleaner.

But significant environmental challenges remain including climate change, habitat loss, and plastics pollution.

Our series Watershed looks at today’s environmental warriors and the road ahead.

Mud Brook
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

A residential development on the former Sycamore Valley Golf Course in Cuyahoga Falls is moving forward, but residents want a Cuyahoga River tributary to be protected.

Womens Network research study
/ WOMENS NETWORK OF NORTHEAST OHIO

Akron-based Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio has released the somewhat surprising results of research focused on gender equity and women’s leadership in Summit County.

Akron's Main Street
SHANE WYNN / AKRON STOCK

New options for downtown living will soon be available in Akron.

New Jersey developer Tom Rybak plans to begin transformation of the historic Law Building on Main Street into a multi-use complex.

The Law Building faces the Bowery Project, a multi-use development now under construction and planned to open this November.

A new American citizen recites the pledge
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

In Akron this week, 51 people from 12 countries became Americans. A naturalization ceremony marking the event was hosted by the International Institute of Akron at the Akron-Summit County Public Library Main Branch.

The institute’s executive director, Madhu Sharma, welcomed the citizens, the Keyed Up Barbershop Quartet performed, and the Akron Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors.

Akron's main Street construction
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The city of Akron is at the midpoint of a major reconstruction project downtown. Bright orange barrels and rubber cones stretch for blocks on Main Street and trucks rumble by kicking up dust. Akron is completely rebuilding the corridor through the heart of downtown.

akron recycle bin
Jennifer Conn / WKSU

Municipal recycling programs are as different as the communities they serve. But keeping a large recycling stream pure is a universal challenge.

The city of Akron has launched an initiative to combat the increasing volume of contamination in its recycling streams.

Over the next three months, the “Recycle Right” campaign will rely on bin inspections and ongoing communication with residents, according to Akron Chief of Staff James Hardy.

poeple floating the river in in rubber tubes
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

The removal of dams along the Cuyahoga River has had benefits apart from improving water quality. Now, water recreation is providing new business opportunities from Kent to Cuyahoga Falls.

Over Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of brightly colored inflatable tubes joined kayakers and canoers on the river. The tubers were customers of Float the River, the area’s newest form of water recreation, launched by local entrepreneurs T.J. Mack and Savannah Snyder.

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