Hack18 - Creating an Intelligent Community

Deborah HooverDeborah D. Hoover

In 2018, the City of Hudson and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation held a civic Hackathon called Innovate Hudson: Hack18. This event, held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, brought together students from Hudson City Schools, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, and Western Reserve Academy to find innovative solutions to a current challenge Hudson is facing: How to Attract Young Adults to Hudson. These local students collaborated and formulated extensive proposals to solve the challenge. Read about Hack18 below and see which proposal won!

"The Burton D. Morgan Foundation believes that Hack18 was a great addition to the lineup of Global Entrepreneurship Week events, setting the stage for teams of students to build their confidence and problem solving skills while addressing real-world issues. The legacy of entrepreneur Burt Morgan continues to influence the entrepreneurial spirit that enlivens our Hudson community. The power of the entrepreneurial mindset is a message that is ever present in our community."

-Deborah D. Hoover, President & CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation

Hack18: Engaging and Attracting Young Adults to Hudson

Hudson’s population growth has been flat since 2010. The number of residents over the age of 65 has risen 30 percent in the past ten years and the median age has risen sharply to 45.5 years (vs. Ohio’s median age of 39.3 years). It has thus become critical to the City to attract and/or retain millennials and post millennial populations. A typical house or condo is valued at $331,030 in Hudson (vs. Ohio at $52,334.00) and the average rental is priced at $1,968 per month. These prices may not be as affordable for this demographic. Today’s young professionals are Hudson’s entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow. These millennial knowledge workers are essential to Hudson’s future prosperity and planning has begun to address the needs of this demographic.

According to the Brookings Institution, millennials are poised to become a demographic bridge between the largely white older generations and much more racially diverse younger generations. As they progress into middle age, millennials will continue to pave the way for the generations behind them as workers, consumers, and leaders in business and government in their acceptance by and participation in tomorrow’s more racially diverse America.

Hack18Students working on proposals

Inspired by the growing success of citizen co-creation, the City felt that a Hackathon would be an informative input to planning. After all, if programmers and software developers could collaborate intensively to design solutions to an automation challenge, why not try to do the same with civic challenges? Given this, Hudson, with support from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, designed a unique form of community engagement as the civic Hackathon - Innovate Hudson: Hack18.

The focus of Hack18 was Changing Demographics - How to Attract Young Adults to Hudson. This is part of the week-long observation of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The week was sponsored locally by The Burton D. Morgan Foundation in order to promote the entrepreneurial spirit. Global Entrepreneurship Week is intended to promote entrepreneurial activity while connecting entrepreneurs with potential collaborators, mentors, and investors.

On November 14, 2018, 24 students from the Hudson City Schools, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, and Western Reserve Academy participated in the inaugural Hack18. The Hackathon was hosted by the Allstate Risk Management Business Center.

The City of Hudson’s Chief Economic Officer and City Manager discussed the challenge with the students: Changing Demographics: How to Attract Young Adults to Hudson. The students were provided with the City of Hudson’s Census data and were given the opportunity to ask questions about City development, property taxes, and income taxes before being assigned to teams.

Hack18Students collaborating to solve the challenge

Participants were tasked with creative problem solving aimed at re-envisioning Hudson’s housing, community health, and sustainability, while considering trends such as renewable energy, growth of self-powering communities, and sensor-cyber technologies. The goal was to identify what they and their peers found appealing as they embarked upon their professional careers.

Hack18 teams used data to employ design thinking to solve the challenge of determining what amenities would bring young people to Hudson. The Hack18 mentoring and Hudson Civic Knowledge Pak materials were designed to provide new insights into community development from both the millennial and post-millennial perspectives. Thus, four college-age mentors with expertise in these fields acted as expert resources and assisted the teams throughout the event. The teams rotated every 45 minutes between mentors. Mentors, current and recently graduated students from the Kent State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, consulted with students to both formulate ideas and work on pitching their ideas.

The Teams’ proposals were evaluated by a panel of judges from the community who were in positions to bring about change. The judges were Missy Gerbick, Managing Director of the Kent State University Center for Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation; Chris Haynes, Entrepreneur in Residence at Kent State University; and Paul Leedham, Hudson’s Chief Innovation Officer. Proposals were judged on how they might impact the community, the level of innovation in the solution, the ambition involved in determining the problem, and the implementation and execution of the solution to the problem; as well as presentation, delivery, organization, and content.

Hack18Students presenting their proposals

At the culmination of the event, each team had three minutes to pitch their ideas to the panel of judges. The judging rubric included points for organization, feasibility, persuasiveness, implementation, and innovation. 

The teams formulated plans to help the City of Hudson remain relevant and entice young professionals that included high-tech, affordable rental housing, a wellness center, smartphone applications, bike friendly amenities, the city helping repay student loans, and a start-up incubator. Watch the video of the presentations below.

The winners of Hack18 proposed a youth advisory board to address their perception that nothing attracts young people to Hudson. Their pitch suggested ways to break the cycle of youth having no voice by creating a youth advisory board made up of 16-28-year-olds that could weigh in on City initiatives. This winning pitch addressed the City Manager’s explanation of the importance of young people’s perspectives in planning for a future Hudson. The winning team comprised of four young women, all high-school juniors, are already trained in the concepts of citizen co-creation in the educational environment and made a strong case for the importance of youth involvement in co-creation at the City level to get young adults to “Start in Hudson. Stay in Hudson”.

The students, three from Hudson High School and one from Western Reserve Academy, shared a $1,000 prize and were recognized by the City of Hudson and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation at the Business Awards Breakfast. The City Manager has subsequently met with the winners of Hack18 to initiate the process of forming the Youth Advisory Board.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation supports entrepreneurship in Hudson in many other ways. Learn about the Foundation's entrepreneurial endeavors at the Hudson Library & Historical Society here.