Former Kent economic development director dies at 45

Emily Mills

Dan Smith, 45, Kent’s economic development director who shaped the downtown transformation, died Wednesday after a yearlong battle with glioblastoma brain cancer.

“Dan was inspirational about helping put the downtown package together,” Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said. “He was a team player, but he was one of the key players on the team. He was the one that would go around negotiating with the people to build our downtown.” 

Smith, a resident of Brimfield, was the economic development director for the city of Kent from February 2008 until his diagnosis in early 2013. Previously, he served as the executive director of the Kent Chamber of Commerce from 1999 to 2008 and the director of the Central Portage County Visitors Bureau from 2001 to 2008.

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said the downtown revitalization would not have been possible without Smith. 

“He’s a remarkable person, and it’s been a privilege to serve alongside him to make downtown Kent a place that people are excited to come visit and even prouder to call home,” he said. “Walk around downtown, and his success speaks for itself.”

According to his obituary, calling hours will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday at Bissler and Sons Funeral Home in Kent.

A celebration of life, titled “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” will take place at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3, and Hawaiian and casual attire is suggested.

Emily Mills is the principal reporter for Contact her at [email protected].