AKRON Stark State is branching out north with a new campus expected to be built in Akron off of state Route 8.

In 2013, Stark State opened a satellite center in Barberton, which is expected to remain open even with the opening of the new Akron location.  

"An Akron location has been discussed for at least four years, and the city and community leaders have been asking us to bring a true community college presence to the city for quite some time now," Executive Director of Advancement, Marketing and Stark State College Foundation Marisa Rohn said.

Rohn said twenty five percent of Stark State students are from the Akron area.  

 "We have been working very closely with the city of Akron, county of Summit, Greater Akron Chamber and many business and community leaders to find the right location for our students," Rohn said.

The school also obtained feedback from staff and students about where would be best for the new location. Rohn said criteria were set early on, which included onsite parking, Metro access and proximity to major highways.

One location Stark State explored was the former Macy’s store in Chapel Hill Mall. Rohn said at one point the space was on a long list of potential sites for the new school.

"We honestly left no stone unturned, and tried to look at every available option to make sure we were selecting the best site for our students and their needs," Rohn said.

Stark State plans to construct a new 50,000 square-foot facility on 11 acres of property along state Route 8 at the Perkins Street exit with access from East Market Street. Construction is expected to take about two years once ground is broke.

Stark State and the city of Akron signed a letter of understanding to enter into a lease-purchase agreement, subject to approval by Stark State’s Board of Trustees and Akron City Council. The college is expected to pay $47,469 each year for 20 years for a total purchase price of $949,380 for the city-owned property.

"Equity in the areas of education and health are at the forefront of this administration’s mission," said Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan. "Through this exciting partnership between the city of Akron, Summit County and Stark State, we will have a means for all residents in our community to get the training and education they need to be lifted up to a better quality of life."

The state of Ohio is providing $6.5 million in capital funding for the project and including $500,000 in community capital funds requested for the project by the Greater Akron Chamber. Stark State’s Board has set aside $5 million in college reserves to help fund the project.

"Stark State College Akron will provide affordable, quality associate degrees and certificates that lead to careers in high-growth, high-demand fields to benefit students, businesses and Greater Akron communities," said Stark State President Para Jones. "Thanks to the leadership and commitment of Mayor Horrigan and the city of Akron and County Executive Russ Pry and Summit County officials, students of all ages will have access to educational opportunities that provide pathways to prosperity for them and their families and businesses in the region will have the well-educated and technically proficient workforce they need."

The final list of programs for the new campus is still being worked on.

"We want to make sure we are meeting the needs of our students, and creating a pipeline of talented workforce for the high-demand jobs in business and industry," Rohn said.