Summit County is shopping around Akron for a building big enough and accessible enough to house its welfare agency, countywide health district and possibly other agencies under one roof.
The Department of Job and Family Services and Summit County Public Health, which operates independently of the county government, serve many of the same clients, so it makes sense to find a joint location, County Executive Russ Pry said.
There also are opportunities for cost savings by consolidating some administrative functions and services, such as purchasing, he said.
The search is concentrated on Akron because that’s where the majority of the clients live. It also involves existing buildings, as opposed to new construction.
Both Job and Family Services and the health district are under some pressure to find new homes.
Job and Family Services occupies multiple buildings on North Main Street and another nearby facility on North High Street in downtown Akron. The county has promised the North Main space to the growing Austen BioInnovation Institute, meaning it must move out.
As for the health district, its three-year deal to use the city-owned Morley Health Center on South Broadway in Akron expires at the end of next year. Administrative offices are on Graham Road in Stow.
Health Commissioner Gene Nixon said he would like to bring as many of the district’s 250 workers under one roof as possible — with the understanding the district must maintain some satellite offices in communities.
“The stars don’t align like this very often,” Nixon said about the county and district looking for new homes at the same time.
The agencies need a large amount of space with ample parking for clients. They have been looking quietly for a while.
The county and health district were interested in the 259,064-square-foot former Roadway Express building on Gorge Boulevard, but that deal fell through, Pry and Nixon said.
“We’ll have to determine here in the near future if we can find a location or go back to separate ways,” Pry said.
The county had discussed moving Job and Family Services to the old Goodyear Tire and Rubber headquarters once Goodyear moves to its new worldwide headquarters in East Akron. That facility isn’t configured to accommodate both Job and Family Services and the health district, Pry said.
“We may very well be back to the Goodyear facility,” he said.
Pry said finding a new site for Job and Family Services is the top “building project” right now for the county.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.