September 26, 2023

As you may know, the Greater Akron Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee reviews select state and local ballot issues and levies that will be presented to voters. As a 501c(6) organization, the Chamber can take a position and advocate for/against issues or levies, but cannot engage in partisan politics or candidate campaigns. For over 20 years, we’ve had a defined process for reviewing ballot issues which was utilized when considering our position on the Summit County Developmental Disabilities (Summit DD) Board’s upcoming levy replacement. 


Following multiple conversations with key stakeholders, and a thorough presentation and Q&A session with leaders of the Summit DD Board, the GAC Board of Directors voted to support the Summit DD Board levy replacement that will appear on the ballot during the Fall 2023 general election. We encourage members to review the levy information below and support the Summit DD levy, in respect to the value their services bring to Greater Akron’s quality of life and workforce. See here for more information on the Chamber’s support for Issue #17 which will appear as Issue 17 on Summit County ballots.


Summit DD is requesting voters support the replacement of its current 4.5 mills operating levy, which was first approved by voters in 2005 and expires in 2024. The Summit County Council and County Executive Ilene Shapiro approved Resolution 2023-181 in June, which places the question of the replacement of Summit DD’s existing tax levy before the voters on the November 7, 2023 ballot. If the replacement levy is passed, it will cost homeowners $158 per $100,000 of appraised value annually, which is a $3.58 monthly increase to the current rate of property valuations (versus that of 2005). Revenue from this levy will fund critical services for more than 5,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities from 2025-2030. 

The current levy represents more than 80% of Summit DD’s revenue. The organization has operated for 17 years without an increase despite serving 30% more people over the same period. The demand for services will continue to increase during the 2025-2030 funding cycle, largely due to early childhood intervention and diagnosis. Because of this, the Summit DD Board is wisely asking voters for a replacement in fall of 2023 before increased property valuations take effect in 2024 (see a detailed breakdown of why property values are rising in 2024 from Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise). Supporting the Summit DD Board’s levy replacement in 2023 will ensure there is no gap or break in their services and avoids competition with other (likely) levy initiatives in 2024 (including Children’s Services and Akron Public Schools). Passing the levy this fall also sets the cost at current property values, avoiding increased levy costs due to the scheduled increase in property valuations in 2024. Supporting the levy this fall is important for the community and financially practical.

Revenue from the levy will be used to:

Empower children

More than 700 children ages 0-6 and their families with Early Intervention services.

1,300 school-aged children prepare to transition from school to work or post-secondary education.

600 families with funding to support accessibility and inclusive programs for their children.

Empower more adults

More than 1,800 adults with residential support.

More than 1,300 students with facility or community-based day programs.

1,300 health and safety reviews to ensure quality services.

Empower Summit County

800 private sector service providers monitored and supported for quality care.

Support for more than 400 Special Olympics athletes.

Support for several community organizations to enhance accessibility.

If the levy does not pass:

Early Intervention will be discontinued for more than 700 children ages 0-6 and families.

More than 400 Special Olympic athletes will lose their funding.

Transition support to empower teenagers to enter the workforce and live more independently after graduation would be eliminated.

Essential services would be eliminated within 12 months and new individuals eligible for services would need to wait for available funding.

The Greater Akron Chamber has been at the center of statewide efforts to fund and create new Innovation Hubs across Ohio. Alongside our partners, we successfully secured $125M within the recently passed state operating budget for these activities, and conversations with the DeWine Administration and local legislators continue around this key initiative’s implementation. 


Over the last several months, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik have, on multiple occasions, visited Akron to discuss the opportunity and our plans for a Greater Akron Innovation Hub focused on polymers and advanced materials. Our ongoing leadership of Northeast Ohio’s Polymer Industry Cluster and deep collaboration with its members have advantageously positioned Greater Akron for this funding, and we are working with the Ohio Department of Development on refining our thoughts and plans ahead of the application going live this fall. 

In the meantime, we are working to ensure commitments from our partners for the work ahead and solidifying our governance model for if/when we receive the funds we are requesting from the State of Ohio to support innovative activities that capitalize on our region’s most unique high growth opportunities. Our proposal includes 36 R&D, commercialization, and workforce development projects that leverage our legacy of polymer and plastic asset development in ways that directly serve four key industries, including healthcare, semiconductors/tech, EVs/mobility, and sustainability.


If you would like more information on these efforts and/or are interested in getting involved, please reach out to John Rizzo, VP of Government Affairs, at

The Greater Akron Chamber cordially invites its members to attend the 2023 Candidates Conference & Leadership Reception on Thursday, October 26 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Portage Country Club (240 N Portage Path, Akron). This annual event brings together hundreds of business executives, elected officials, candidates, economic development professionals, and other community stakeholders for an evening of camaraderie and conversation.

We are excited to announce that this event will feature a panel discussion with all three Republican Candidates for U.S. Senate, including Matt Dolan, Frank LaRose, and Bernie Moreno. The panel will be moderated by the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and feature a Q&A session. For more information and to register, click here

Questions? Contact John Rizzo, Vice President of Government Affairs, at

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