Lorain County Community College and The University of Akron have created a unique alliance that redefines boundaries between the two educational leaders while enhancing innovation and economic growth in the region.
The two institutions recently announced the formation of the Innovation Alliance, a collaboration designed to align their strengths and resources, and accelerate educational efficiency, knowledge creation and economic development within an area between the campuses that is being called the Innovation Corridor.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, 13th District, and representatives from all sectors of the Innovation Corridor — education, government, health care, manufacturing and high-growth industries — were present for the unveiling of the plan that will contribute to restoring the economic prominence of Northeast Ohio. RPM International Inc. hosted the event at its world headquarters in Medina in a show of industry support for the program.
"In utilizing academic resources, fostering innovation and developing strategic business approaches, the Innovation Alliance will serve as a model of success for communities across the state," said Lt. Gov. Fisher.
Officials from the two institutions said the Alliance will enhance the region’s competitiveness and create a center of excellence in innovation.
"To compete globally, higher education, business and government must work in regional partnerships to support innovation and foster knowledge creation and thereby ensure an increasingly stronger and larger source of human capital," said University of Akron President Luis M. Proenza.
"Developing highly skilled, entrepreneurial talent will stimulate new businesses and ideas and lead to long-term growth in Northeast Ohio. Consequently, higher education will be an important catalyst in this process," said Lorain County Community College President Roy A. Church.
"This alliance will help prepare our citizens for the development of a new economy in Northeast Ohio, an economy based around innovative creativity that will show that when our workers have a fair opportunity, they can compete with anyone in the world," said U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. She indicated that she looks forward to supporting the Alliance at the federal level to build a foundation and a set of priorities to help make the Innovation Alliance vision become a "booming reality."
"This is the kindred spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that cuts across all boundaries of the state so that we can work together to turn Ohio around," said Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer sees the benefits of this alliance to the region, calling it "a groundbreaking initiative" in its March 29 editorial. "It provides the region’s businesses a resource explicitly committed to help meet their needs. And, over time, it could emerge as a factor in drawing new employers to the area. It is, in short, just the kind of creative approach higher education needs across the state," the editorial also stated.
"Partnerships such as the Innovation Alliance enable business and higher education to work together to create a highly skilled workforce that is more innovative and entrepreneurial," said Frank Sullivan, RPM president and CEO.
Major initiatives of the alliance include: exploring the development of a collaborative back-office operation to increase efficiency; pursuing shared mechanisms to drive down costs; assisting existing industries to grow stronger and new industries to take root; and, working with K-12 education and industry partners to create the next generation of highly trained scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technicians. This includes creating and delivering joint applied baccalaureate degrees at 40 percent of the cost and in 25 percent less time in the high-growth areas of advanced manufacturing, health care and entrepreneurship, and developing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives with K-12 districts throughout the Innovation Corridor.
For information, call 888-570-7147 or visit the Innovation Alliance Web site at