UPA gets grant for business plan competition


University Park Alliance (UPA), of which The University of Akron is a partner, has received a $35,000 grant from Charter One Foundation through its Growing Communities Initiative to support the Start UP! Business Plan Competition. Charter One's money will help promote the development of new businesses in University Park through cash awards of up to $10,000.

"Charter One is proud to partner with University Park Alliance to grow our communities and enhance our neighborhoods," said Ken Marblestone, president of Charter One and RBS Citizens, Ohio. "The small business grant competition is an exciting opportunity to support entrepreneurs and help bring their fresh, new ideas to life."

UPA Executive Director Eric Anthony Johnson said, "We are grateful to Charter One for its commitment to UPA's future vision for University Park. The contribution will help create new small businesses and spur the entrepreneurship needed for the development of a thriving mixed-use neighborhood that will attract and retain talent, generate economic activity and create jobs."

Rewarding talent; creating jobs

The goal of the competition is to help attract and assist new business, especially business providing basic but missing services in the University Park neighborhood, and to give aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to bolster their business acumen.

Initial competition applications were submitted in December 2011. Those selected to continue will receive individual guidance on writing a business and in spring 2012, finalists will present their plans before a panel of judges to determine the winners. In addition to funding, entrepreneurs submitting winning business plans will receive assistance in locating a suitable site within University Park and ongoing consulting support as they bring their business ideas to fruition.

The competition is presented by UPA with support Charter One Foundation through its Growing Communities Initiative, University of Akron Research Foundation, The Student Venture Fund at The University of Akron, Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease LLC, and Meaden & Moore.

About University Park Alliance

University Park Alliance is a nonprofit community development corporation dedicated to advancing the transformation of University Park, the 50-block neighborhood surrounding The University of Akron. UPA’s urban reinvestment strategy is to capitalize on the economic synergy of Akron’s Anchor Institutions and develop University Park as a dense, walkable neighborhood with diverse cultural offerings, great healthcare, quality education and plenty of recreational and leisure opportunities. UPA receives major funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and its partners include The University of Akron, City of Akron, Summa Health System, Akron Beacon Journal, Akron Children's Hospital, Akron General Health System, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, Greater Akron Chamber, Akron Public Schools, and the University Park residential and business community.

Media contacts: Beth Boggins, 330-777-2072 or bboggins@upark.com, or Laura Massie, 330-972-6476 or massie1@uakron.edu.