City2City Update: City of Kent yet to see any benefits

When you step foot onto the sidewalks of downtown Kent, you’re bound to walk into one of the many local stores and restaurants the city has to offer. A Kent State alum wanted visitors to really explore the deals from the stores.

Jonathan Zeit, founder/CEO of City2City, Inc., drafted an implementation plan back in December 2015. The draft outlined the placement of 100 beacons and 10 geofences within Kent.

The City2City app uses the user’s location to share deals and coupons from different local businesses in the area. As of right now, the locations include Kent, Akron, Wadsworth, Hudson, Canton and Cuyahoga Falls.

The app also includes a brief overview of each city’s history, main attractions and list of emergency contacts.

Kent City Council passed an ordinance on Jan. 20, 2016 to allow the company to install the beacons and geofence in the city.

In the agreement the city signed, it mentioned the city of Kent will receive 15% of the profit in exchange of the City’s right of way. According to the implementation plan, the total amount of money Kent was expected to earn was over $27,000.

It’s been nearly two years since the ordinance passed. How have businesses in Kent benefitted from this? The answer is: they haven’t.

Tim Sahr, owner of the cheese shop Kent Cheesemonger , vaguely remember any conversation about any beacons and geofences being installed in the city.

“I sort of remember two younger guys coming in to talk to me about it,” Sahr said. “They asked me if I would be interested and I said yes. I haven’t heard anything about it since.”

Sahr wasn’t the only business owner who didn’t know what was going on. Gwen Rosenberg, owner of Popped! popcorn shop, also recalls a conversation about City2City.

“Yeah, I vaguely remember someone mentioning something about (City2City),” Rosenberg said. “but that was the last I heard of it.”

The city seem to not know what is going on either. Gary Bishop, IT manager for the city of Kent, mentioned no beacons or geofences have been installed at the moment.

Kent has yet to make any revenue from advertising. Bishop also said discussions are still being had about the program. 

Zeit wasn’t available for a phone interview, but mentioned in an email “there’s more to the story than what was written in the past.”

The city signed a 36-month contract with City2City, still hoping that it could benefit the businesses in Kent and the city overall.