by Akii Butler
Imagine being 19 years old and opening a business. Javon Miller doesn’t have to, because that’s exactly what he did.
In January, Javon opened Arize, a student-owned and student-run entertainment and event venue in Kent.
Arize is different from stereotypical college bars and clubs. They have unique weekly events, whether it’s line dancing or a DJ battle. They don’t sell alcohol, yet that hasn’t stopped the crowds from enjoying themselves.
Javon came up with the concept in spring 2018 and decided to start looking for spaces.
“I looked at about seven different properties throughout spring, summer and fall and I finally found the property that was perfect,” says Javon, who studies psychology with a minor in entrepreneurship. “It had a stage, a dance floor, a lounge. It was big enough and I wanted it.”
Unlike most of the college clubs and bars in Kent, Arize is located about one mile east of Kent State’s campus. The building sits on Route 59 between a dental office and an auto shop.
After locking down the property, Javon went through a four-month-long process that included filing a business license with the State of Ohio. He also went to the city to get a conditional use application along with the permits and licenses that were needed to open up the venue.
One would think that owning a business while still in college is crazy, but Javon seems to be doing pretty well with balancing everything.
“The original goal of this was to create a venue for multicultural people on campus, and God has blessed me in that position where I was able to provide that opportunity,” says Javon.
Javon doesn’t take all the credit. He makes sure that it’s known that his employees also do their fair share of the work as well. They come up with ideas for events and marketing, as well as setting up for events and cleaning up afterward.
“People wanted a venue, they wanted a party,” says Javon, who turned 20 in March. “They wanted something that was different from the standard bar [or] apartment scene parties.”
Many students at Kent State echo these sentiments, specifically the Black students, who feel as though the only places they can truly turn up how they want to during the weekend are in Akron, which is about 23 minutes away by car.
“I love Akron and how there is so much to do, but sometimes I don’t want to have to spend $17 for an Uber when I want to have fun,” says Alexyss Gray, a senior at Kent State University.
Arize is located at 1935 State Route 59 in Kent, Ohio. Learn more at ArizeVenue.com.
Akii Butler is a senior at Kent State University. He studies journalism and is an avid fan of music.
Photos shared by Javon Miller.