Sen. Brown tours downtown Kent, announces tax credit extension


Senator Sherrod Brown shares popcorn with reporters during his tour of the downtown Kent renovation and construction projects Wednesday, Jan.16. Senator Brown also announced an extension to a tax bill which helped create jobs and fund the renovation effort in Kent. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Alexis Pfeifer

KentWired Video

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Video by Mackenzie Clark and Jessica Djukic.

Surrounded by city officials, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown toured the developing construction projects in downtown Kent Wednesday to see the advancements partially funded by the New Markets Tax Credit.

The senator stopped by the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) Central Gateway Transit facility and the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center.

Brown thanked construction workers for their efforts and talked to shop owners. He told Gwen Rosenberg, owner of Popped!, he’d have to try some of her popcorn. Rosenberg thanked Brown for his support with a sample bag of caramel popcorn.

The university and community working together means potential job growth for the city, said Brown, whose work in Washington helped provide $20 million for construction of the PARTA Central Gateway Transit facility in the spring of 2011.

“You take away that kind of cooperation here that will matter with job growth and job development, making Kent State a more attractive university and making students more want to come here when they see it’s part of something beyond the campus boundaries,” Brown said.

Kent State President Lester Lefton accompanied Brown during the tour, which began at Ametek, and spoke with Brown and other officials before walking through the city.

“It was really a confluence of everyone coming together, grabbing hold, taking a leap of faith and pulling it off,” Lefton said. “It’s turning Kent into the college town it was destined to be. Now the campus and the city are tied together, and all these businesses are thriving.”

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller, also on the tour, credited the people involved in the project for making it happen. The projects were responsible for 400 new jobs in the city and 300 to 400 temporary construction jobs in the $100-million project, Ruller said.

“These projects have been talked about for decades,” Ruller said. “[Lefton] saw, much like the city saw, that the strength of the university depended on the strength of the town, and the strength of the town depended on the strength of the university. We’ve built something here that is pretty special.”

Brown announced that the New Markets Tax Credit, which gave the city $9 million to help build the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center, was extended as part of the fiscal cliff deal. This will continue to promote economic development for the city.

“With all the attention on the fiscal cliff and what happens with taxes, what happens with spending overall leads to extension of some of the energy tax credits,” Brown said, “and NMTC will mean more job creation in the community.”

Contact Alexis Pfeifer at [email protected].