Canton innovation district gets green light for funding

The city of Canton, JumpStart Inc. and the Stark Community Foundation will give the district a total of $266,000

CANTON  City Council on Monday agreed to fund the innovation district with help from the Stark Community Foundation and Cleveland-based JumpStart Inc.

The district — from about Second to Sixth streets and Cleveland Avenue NW to Piedmont Avenue NE — will receive $266,000 a year. Canton will provide $75,000; JumpStart will provide $52,000 and $99,000 through the state’s Third Frontier network; and the Stark Community Foundation will provide $40,000.

The innovation district, created last year per state guidelines, requires high-speed internet connectivity and allows for tax abatements that can be used to support technology businesses.

With all council members present, Councilman Frank Morris, D-9, was the only one to vote against the measure. He asked for a breakdown of the district’s budget and more details.

“Who’s hiring these people? That would not be us, right?” Morris also asked during the regular council meeting.

Deputy Mayor Fonda Williams said JumpStart will hire a manager and intern to oversee the district and staff the district headquarters at 309 Court Ave. NW.

“As we pointed out before, there’s a multitude of community partners involved in the funding of this particular project,” Williams said.

Morris also asked whether a housing developer had been interested in the Renkert Building on Market Avenue N, which is within the district. Williams said a developer had looked at the Renkert, but the Downtown Canton Land Bank purchased it to help “spruce up” the downtown.

Monday’s council vote authorized the mayor or service director to enter a three-year agreement with the Canton Community Improvement Corporation (CCIC) — the city’s development arm — to use $75,000 a year from the comprehensive development fund. The fund was created by the city’s income tax increase and is expected to collect $6 million in 2019.

The CCIC will contract with JumpStart — a nonprofit that supports startups in Northeast Ohio. The draft budget, as read at Monday’s meeting, consists of:

$3,000 for the lease, utilities and supplies
$133,000 for office staff salaries
$14,000 for events and event staff salaries
$35,000 for marketing
$56,000 for “inclusive entrepreneurship” salaries and outreach
$5,000 for pitch competition prize money
$20,000 for graduation awards for the Impact Program, a 12-week business assistance course

Approved about $81,000 for the replacement of six dispatch consoles when the Canton Communication Center moves from the Cirelli Building on 30th Street to City Hall. The city will be reimbursed by the Stark County Emergency Management 911 Funds, according to city documents.

Postponed a vote to provide $200,000 for a new Community Building Partnership housing improvement program. Williams said more time was needed to respond to council members’ questions about how the money will be used. The vote now is scheduled for the council’s next regular meeting on Oct. 15.

Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323

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