Stark Community Foundation Releases Economic Development Report

Today, Stark Community Foundation released Strengthening Stark, a report that assesses the current economic and social health of Stark County. The report examines key community issues of demographics, education, employment, housing and resources that continue to shape our region.

The Foundation commissioned and issued the report at the request of the Stark Civic Group, an informal group of organizational leaders from Stark County who share a commitment to moving our community forward by creating opportunities to accelerate economic growth and increasing access to opportunity in Stark County.

“After months of analyzing data, what emerged is that Stark County is on the verge of a transformation – and the choice is ours to determine what our future looks like,” said Mark J. Samolczyk, president and CEO of Stark Community Foundation. “If we choose to stay on our present trajectory, we will transform into a smaller, older, and relatively poorer place unable to support an ever-improving quality of life.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Population Stark’s population fell to an estimated 375,165 in 2015, and by 2040, Stark County’s population is expected to drop to 355,500 – a decline of 6% since 2000.
  • Business The number of businesses in Stark County declined from 6,997 in 2011 to 6,807 in 2015.
  • Employment Employment in companies that are younger than five years old fell 28.5% between 2010 and 2015.
  • Education By 2020, nearly two-thirds of all jobs are projected to require a post-secondary credential or higher in the U.S., but presently less than 30% of Stark County residents have at least an associate’s degree.
  • Job Access Nearly 40% of Stark County’s working residents leave the county to access their job.
  • Transportation Stark County residents spend a higher percentage of their income, 28%, on transportation, than do residents of Northeast Ohio’s two other most populous counties, Cuyahoga and Summit.

While the report presents sobering statistics, it also provides recommendations for how our county could be strengthened if public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic stakeholders join forces to develop and implement a bold, aggressive plan to accelerate economic growth and increase access to opportunity in Stark County.

“As a community foundation, we are in a strong position to observe our county’s most pressing needs and share this valuable knowledge with the public,” added Samolczyk. “Strengthening Stark is meant to inform and inspire meaningful dialogue about how our community must come together in order to transform Stark County into a larger, younger and more prosperous community. It’s our hope that this data will not only start the community conversation, but also inform area leaders’ decisions.”

Commissioned by Stark Community Foundation, the report was written by Chris Thompson, president of Civic Collaboration Consultants, LCC, and former director of regional engagement for the Fund for Our Economic Future.

To read the full report and learn how you can get involved, visit

About Stark Community Foundation
Stark Community Foundation is the community’s trusted partner in giving to over 700 individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits that have created charitable funds to impact the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. Ranked in the top 10 percent of community foundations in the United States today, Stark Community Foundation is committed to serving donor needs and strategically addressing local issues. The Foundation and its family of donors have granted more than $145 million to nonprofits since 1963. Learn more at

About the Stark Civic Group
Formed in 2015 at the suggestion of the leadership of the Canton Repository, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Stark Community Foundation, the Stark Civic Group provides a forum for civic organizations and others to share their respective strategic plans and identify ways they can help each other achieve their respective goals. The evolving membership currently includes representatives from Akron-Canton Airport, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Canton Repository, City of Alliance, City of Canton, DeHoff Development, Jackson Township, Ohio House of Representatives, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Seifert Companies, Stark Community Foundation, Stark County Government, Stark Economic Development Board and United Way of Greater Stark County.

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