The Hiram Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship, and a number of professors and current and former students are out to revitalize business in a portion of downtown Ravenna, and add a little “cool” to the mix in the process, by encouraging redevelopment tied to arts – related businesses.
“The long-term goal is to create 25 Hiram student-run businesses in Ravenna over the next four years,” said Kay Molkentin, Director of Hiram’s Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship (CIE). “There already are four such businesses well under development and several more are in the pipeline.” To seed the effort, Molkentin and Hiram Assistant Professor of Political Science James Thompson worked with Ravenna Mayor Joe Bica and community leaders to create an attractive environment to draw young entrepreneurs to Ravenna. As a result Ravenna’s Community Improvement Corporation purchased the property on the corner of Chestnut and Highland Streets, which will serve as the Hiram College Business Incubator in Ravenna.
The first of the Hiram-student-run, arts-related businesses to move into the neighborhood is Monza Studio, a recording studio, on the corner of Chestnut and Highland Streets that will double as an arts performance space for music and theater. Co-owned by Hiram seniors Bryan Jones, and Cameron Milani, the studio specializes in analog recording, mixing and mastering, general recording, and audio equipment repair. Jones and Cameron Milani are hoping to capitalize on the large number of bands in the Kent-Ravenna area.
Already planned to follow, in store fronts along Chestnut Street, are an art gallery planned by Scott Tominey, a 2012 Hiram graduate; a musical theater venue, planned by 2012 graduate Andrew Eckert; and a café envisioned by Hiram senior Chris Pratt. Other plans call for an international bookstore, a local foods market, and a tapestry-maker, who will be drawing upon the fabric design capabilities of the Kent State Fashion School, and more.
Molkentin said the business model for the project is based on Hiram’s belief that the arts can act as a catalyst in entrepreneurial success and economic development, and the proximity of the large youth and arts-oriented communities clustered around Hiram and Kent State University.