You’d think the guys running Summit County were taking their economic development cues from Cuyahoga. Exhibit A: Their two biggest plans to date.
Last December, former County Executive James McCarthy announced that the county would be investing in a $327 million professional soccer stadium
. McCarthy believed the stadium would be a “destination location” that would attract outsiders to surrounding businesses. Unfortunately, he kinda forgot about the obvious: That soccer’s never been a big draw in these parts – especially of the $327 million variety – and that sports stadiums never create the surrounding development that esteemed consultants incessantly predict. The county, it seems, would be better off building something as specialized as an 180,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop. Which brings us to our next point.
In April, Summit began courting Bass Pro, which submitted plans for a $50 million store in East Akron that would sell everything from ginormous aquariums to hunting rifles. The principle behind such a megastore is not to survive solely off local consumers, but to draw from a regional, even multi-state area.
The problem was that there are already Brass Pro Shops in Toledo and Cincinnati – essentially cutting off traffic from the southern and western parts of Ohio. The County Council approved a $1.5 million sales-tax rebate. The city of Akron also threw in a nice property tax abatement.
Yet fate intervened this week, when Bass Pro killed its plans for the Akron store
, saying it just didn’t have the clientele in these parts to support it. Maybe now the county -- as well as the city of Akron – can start focusing on projects that will actually reach fruition. – Denise Grollmus