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Fellowship to Support Akron Entrepreneurship Announced

AKRON, Ohio--July 26, 2016--The Fund for Our Economic Future today named Heather Roszczyk as an Akron entrepreneurship fellow. Collaborating closely with Akron entrepreneurs, the Fund's Akron-based members and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Fund created the two-year fellowship to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture in the city of Akron. 

"Encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship is a critical strategy in our efforts to advance economic growth and increased access to economic opportunity in Northeast Ohio," said Brad Whitehead, president of the Fund. "Our members are excited about the growing entrepreneurial energy in Akron and we want to support those efforts and catalyze even more activity through this fellowship."

Through the fellowship program, Ms. Roszczyk will:

  • Connect entrepreneurs to resources that will help their businesses succeed.
  • Provide financial support to existing and emerging efforts to strengthen Akron's entrepreneurial culture.
  • Promote entrepreneurship in the city of Akron in ways that encourage more individuals to start businesses.

"Akron is full of people with bright ideas and the determination to bring them to fruition," said Ms. Roszczyk, who has worked in Akron for six years, most recently as director of marketing and public relations for the Akron Symphony Orchestra. "I'm thrilled to be given the opportunity to champion these business owners' efforts."

Before returning to her native Northeast Ohio in 2010, Ms. Roszczyk worked for Nike in Portland, Oregon, where she managed a $400 million global footwear line.

"I believe anyone who has spent significant time in Akron over the past few years would agree that the city is experiencing a resurgence," she said. "New businesses are popping up in our neighborhoods and downtown. I look forward to encouraging and helping more people to follow in the footsteps of recent entrepreneurs, such as Mary Hospodarsky of Sweet Mary's, as well as the entrepreneurs who helped make Akron world famous for tires and rubber. My goal, and the goal of this fellowship, is to make sure everyone knows Akron is for entrepreneurs."

"Downtown Akron is the hub of business in the city of Akron and we want to make sure it is the hub of entrepreneurship, as well," said Deborah Hoover, president and CEO of Burton D. Morgan Foundation, a member of the Fund. Ms. Hoover leads the Fund's job creation efforts. "Heather will be promoting entrepreneurship across the entire spectrum, from home-based ventures to high-tech startups. She will help us in the philanthropic community identify ways we can catalyze more entrepreneurship activity in the city."

Mr. Whitehead said that through the fellowship the Fund will foster some new experiments, as well as provide support to existing entrepreneurial efforts in Akron.

"After two years, we will take the lessons learned through the fellowship to help Akron and other communities across Northeast Ohio to promote and sustain effective approaches to advancing Growth & Opportunity through entrepreneurship," he said.

About the Fund for Our Economic Future

The Fund for Our Economic Future is an alliance of funders -- foundations, corporations, universities, health care systems, business and civic associations, government entities, and individuals -- who pool their resources and collective know-how to advance economic growth and increase access to opportunity for the people of Northeast Ohio through improved job creation, job preparation and job access, an approach we call Growth & Opportunity. We do this by building shared community commitment, supporting high-impact collaborations and marshalling strategic funding. Since our founding in 2004, the Fund has raised more than $100 million for improving regional economic competitiveness. Our efforts have helped retain or create more than 18,500 jobs, add $760 million in payroll, and attract $4 billion in capital to Northeast Ohio.

Media Contact

Sara Lepro
Director of Communications

Fund for Our Economic Future
216.456.9806
slepro@thefundneo.org