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Akron’s where the action is

Akron is a small market that has developed the transportation, accommodations and services of a larger city. Set in northeast Ohio 45 minutes south of Cleveland, Akron is accessible by interstates 76 and 77. Five airlines operate from the Akron Canton Airport, which, through its record-setting year in 2008 and several record-setting months in 2009, has demonstrated that even in a tough economy, the right business model can succeed. The airport also kicked off a 10-year expansion project in 2008 that will include a runway extension for larger jets capable of coast-to-coast and international flights.

A former Masonic hall across from Akron’s convention center recently became a meeting and event venue.

Courtesy Akron Summit CVB

“We feel like we have the best of both worlds. We have 5,000 guest rooms and all the metropolitan amenities,” said Jim Mahon, director of marketing and communications of the Akron-Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And we are complemented by our adjacent communities, like Hudson and Bath, both minutes from downtown, that offer a small-town feel and offer a glimpse back in time.”

One of the newest developments in downtown Akron has been around since the early 20th century. Greystone Hall is a former Masonic temple that had been renovated and used as a wedding venue. It reopened this summer as a meeting and event venue under the management of the city and the John S. Knight Convention Center directly across the street. Among Greystone’s meeting facilities are a grand ballroom, two large meeting rooms and an auditorium with a full stage.

Greystone Hall retains many of its historic features.

Courtesy Akron Summit CVB

Greystone Hall will augment the Knight center’s 123,000 square feet of meeting space, which includes two exhibit halls, two formal ballrooms and several smaller meetings rooms.

Also nearby is the Akron Art Museum, a popular meeting and event venue. The Ohio chapter of the American Institute of Architects spent a great deal of time at the museum admiring a new wing that opened two years ago, a modern steel and glass construction that juxtaposes the original historic building.

Stan Hywet Hall, the estate of F.A. Sieberling, co-founder of Goodyear Tire, is another popular spot for smaller meetings. The 65-room Tudor mansion was featured on A&E’s American Castles and contains original furnishings and several acres of formal gardens.

An auditorium in the main house can hold up to 200 guests, and another in the carriage house holds up to 100. Functions can also be held in the garden.

Breakfast and meeting aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad were among the stops when representatives of the Gay Games came to Akron this summer.

Courtesy Akron Summit CVB

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs from Cleveland through Akron and south into Amish country with both excursion and dinner tours.

“We are being considered as a site for the 2012 Gay Games. When the committee came to Akron, they had breakfast on the St. Lucie car and toured the area,” said Mahon.

The sports market has become such an important part of the equation that the CVB, with its neighboring counties, formed Sports Ohio to attract more of those events.

Among the events Akron has held are the King James Shooting Stars Classic, hosted by Akron native LeBron James each year, and the Protecting Our Nation’s Youth National Championships, a girls’ softball tourney.

Akron-Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau
(800) 245-4254


Next in the Ohio Meeting Guide >> "Downtown options enliven Lima"