There's a help wanted sign out for one of Akron's most visionary jobs.
The head of the University Park Alliance (UPA) is stepping aside in two weeks. Eric Johnson took the job in 2010, helping lead the organization which is charged with helping lead renewal efforts in the 50-block area touching on the University of Akron.
- - -
(University Park Alliance) The executive director of the University Park Alliance (UPA) has announced he is stepping down.
Eric Johnson, Ph.D. (at left, photo University Park Alliance) has been with UPA since 2010, leading the nonprofit community development corporation’s renewal efforts in the core section of the city. UPA is a nonprofit group supported by the university, businesses and local government since 2001.
During his tenure, Johnson has furthered UPA’s mission leading the development of the 50-block area around the University of Akron.
One of Johnson’s significant contributions came late in 2012, when he helped UPA create a master plan to further develop Akron’s urban core; allowing UPA to further work with neighborhood residents, businesses and city institutions.
UPA Board Chair David James said that Johnson helped move the organization in the right direction. “Eric Johnson stepped in when UPA needed direction and provided that for us setting us on a productive path for the future.”
His influence on UPA is most visible today with the new Child Guidance & Family Services building on East Market Street as the first stage of development on the former Fred Martin Chevrolet dealership site.
A recent Akron Beacon Journal editorial credited Johnson with giving UPA “momentum” as soon as he arrived in Akron in 2010.
“Under Johnson,” it read, “the alliance has operated as something of a start-up, gathering talent, developing plans and launching the execution.”
Under Eric Johnson, UPA has grown a group called the Community Neighborhood Network, made up of leaders and members of neighborhood groups, faith-based organizations, businesses and social service agencies.
The group meets regularly to work on plans that include improving housing in the UPA area.
UPA board member Tony O’Leary said of Johnson’s work, “Eric provided the energy and vision to produce a significant master plan for the University Park area and downtown. This work will guide development for years to come.”
Eric Johnsons’ resignation is effective April 19, 2013