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Economy and Business


The main players in an ambitious plan for Kent Ohio gather for a look see
About 70% of the construction is done
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
A tour of construction works its way toward the new hotel and conference center
Courtesy of TPR
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In The Region:

If you knew downtown Kent in the old days, you probably won’t recognize it now; at least not the four acres behind Main Street, just a few streets west of the Kent State campus.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports on the soon-to- be-completed 100-million dollar transformation of “Kent, the college town.”

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Seeing progress
The dignitaries were out including Kent State University President Lester Lefton and U.S. Senator Sherrod Browns. They, and a host of local political and business leaders who helped raise more than $100 million for a massive new hotel and conference center, transit facility, retail and office complexes, and parking garage, gathered to tour what’s been built—about 70% of the projects—and what is still going up. 

Interested parties
Kent State was a major player, putting about $12 million into the plan to revitalize downtown and link it via an esplanade to the main campus.  Dr. Lefton talked about how and why it all happened. “It was really a confluence of everybody coming together, grabbing ahold and taking a leap of faith. And it’s happening, and it’s generating hundreds of new jobs.  And it’s turning Kent in to the college town it was destined to be…a Madison, Ithica, Austin kind of place; because now the campus and the city are tied together and all these businesses are thriving. 

Federal money
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is the man developers credit with helping the most with federal funding. And, on the heels of the deals to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, he didn’t apologize. In fact, he called the project a solid example of how to stimulate the economy going forward.  “Giving tax breaks to the rich doesn’t trickle down to the middle class.  We know that from what happened in the last decade.  That budget agreement showed that’s what people in congress are thinking: you grow the economy by strengthening the middle class.  And, this is the kind of project that I think matters that way…yeah.

Brown said the tax-credit program is being extended through 2013.   

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