Akron Draws Entrepreneurs, Young Professionals

On Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 06:20
It would seem as if Heather Barnes is already too busy. She is a married mother of three, a patent attorney with law firm Brouse McDowell and on the board of National Super Kids Classic, a national soap box derby event for children with special needs. She is also president of Torchbearers, an Akron-based young professionals' organization that focuses on leadership skills and active participation in the community. “I’m busy, but I like it that way,” she says. Barnes was raised in Steubenville, but attended The University of Akron and now lives in Green in Summit County. “I especially like Akron because it’s a big city with a small town feel,” she says. “It seems to be ideally located, with quick access to major cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh. I can honestly say that my family and I are thriving these days living in the Greater Akron environment.” In fact, many young professionals are thriving thanks to Greater Akron’s sound economy, neighborhood and community diversity, and rich cultural and recreational opportunities. Those factors have helped to attract and nurture a cadre of young professionals. Ray Lampner, 39, has spent most of his life in the Akron area. He and his wife, Blair, appreciate the quality schools for their three children and the accessibility of parks and recreation opportunities. Lampner lives in Fairlawn and is director of BCG & Co., which helps privately owned businesses that are planning mergers or seeking to acquire assets. “The cost of living in Northeast Ohio is reasonable, and I also appreciate the easy access to good transportation routes,” he says. Lampner is also involved with a local United Way chapter, and is impressed with how many companies throughout the region are stepping up to support the nonprofit even in difficult economic times. “It’s nice to know that if my family was ever faced with a tough situation, the people of Greater Akron are here to help one another,” he says. “This is a community that really cares, and proves it all the time.” Meghan MacDonald, 34, is an Akron native who now lives in Sharon Township. She works in Cuyahoga Falls and owns Meghan MacDonald Insurance Agency Inc., which is affiliated with State Farm. “I especially enjoy the restaurants, shopping opportunities and friendliness of the people in Akron and the surrounding areas,” she says. “Akron is very welcoming to its residents. It's easy to fit in here.” MacDonald is also a community-minded young professional who serves as a member of Torchbearers. “I am past president of the group and am most proud that many Torchbearers members serve on nonprofit boards,” she says. “This is a successful community, and one that gives back. Maybe that's why it's so successful.”