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Release Date: July 6,2023

Changing Perceptions of Downtown Akron One Plant at a Time: Goodyear Volunteers

July 6, 2023, Akron, Ohio — For the fourth year in a row, Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) engaged community volunteers from The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to support beautification efforts in downtown Akron. From June 1 to June 7, DAP staff, Goodyear volunteers, and downtown ambassadors worked on planting and maintaining 89 self-watering planters, 42 flower boxes, and eight in-ground beds, in addition to the 108 hanging flower baskets that were hung along Main Street the week prior. This year’s beautification initiative also included staining the picnic tables in the Akronym Biergarten, filling the North High Parklet with flowering plants, and repainting the seating and tables on Cascade Plaza.

Volunteers from Goodyear help beautify downtown Akron each year as part of their annual Global Week of Volunteering, during which Goodyear associates work to make a positive impact in communities around the world.

DAP President and CEO Suzie Graham says, "The volunteer partnership with Goodyear continues to enrich the downtown neighborhood, often in ways beyond the planting of flower beds or repainting murals. Each year, we have several volunteers who return, and who tell us what they love about downtown, as well as several new volunteers—some of whom are interns, recent graduates, and even recently moved to the city. We love connecting with all of them to show off downtown and to learn what they need from the neighborhood."

Improving Perceptions

As more intentionality has been put into downtown beautification efforts, public satisfaction levels with downtown’s physical appearance have risen significantly. In 2019, 59% of respondents to DAP’s General Survey were satisfied or very satisfied with downtown’s physical appearance. By 2022, that number was 96%. Respondents’ positive feelings toward beautification, specifically, have risen from 77% in 2019 to 87% in 2022. Beautification efforts such as ours create healthier environments downtown, are more engaging to visitors, and help to build a neighborhood that is beautiful and open to all.

The Retirement of Green & Clean

Those who have spent much time in downtown Akron over the years will likely remember Green & Clean Day, an annual program started in 2008 in partnership with Keep Akron Beautiful that invited hundreds of downtown employees, residents, and students to unite and sweep, wash, and spruce up downtown Akron. Green & Clean ran from its inception in 2008 to 2018. 2019 was the first year DAP participated in Goodyear’s Global Week of Volunteering.

Consensus-Driven Beautification

The same year, DAP sunsetted the long-standing Adopt-a-Planter program, in which individual businesses and organizations had the opportunity to “adopt” containers, decorate them, and decide how to fill them with plants. Now, DAP’s expanded downtown beautification program is consensus driven, stakeholder led, and sustainability centered. Each year, DAP collaborates with Keep Akron Beautiful and other downtown stakeholders to discuss plans for the growing season and how best to ensure downtown beautification elements are cohesive.

DAP is grateful to volunteers from Goodyear, downtown ambassadors, and everyone else who played a role in maintaining a clean, safe, and welcoming downtown this June, as beautification of public space is an essential aspect of DAP’s mission to promote and build a vibrant and valuable downtown.

DAP is especially grateful to the Corbin Foundation for their support of our ongoing beautification efforts through planting and the maintenance of downtown flower beds, planters, and containers.