AKRON (July 29, 2008) — Bridgestone/Firestone plans to keep its Akron technical center in the city, instead of moving it to a site in Tennessee, pending further approvals.
The company announced its decision at a ceremony in Akron July 29 commemorating the 20th anniversary of Bridgestone's acquisition of Firestone.
Akron and a site in Murfreesboro, Tenn., were competing to land the tech center deal.
The recommendation by a Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. task force still needs the approval of parent Bridgestone Corp. and relevant government entities.
The project would result in the construction of a 240,000-sq.-ft. technical center near the existing center at a cost of more than $100 million. The new tech center would be in use by 2012, and allow BFS to keep its technical staff of about 1,000 in Akron.
“We're pleased we have the framework of an agreement with officials in Akron, Summit County and the state of Ohio that will allow us to stay in Akron and build a first-class technology building,” said Mark Emkes, chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holding and Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire L.L.C.
“We're working together with Akron, Summit County, the Port Authority and Ohio officials in hopes of getting a final agreement,” he said. “While we're excited to have this agreement framework, we still have some work to do before we can break ground.”
Bridgestone Americas has signed letters of understanding with the state of Ohio, Summit County, the Summit County Port Authority and the city of Akron that set out the framework for an agreement to build the new tech Center in Akron.
“Since Harvey Firestone founded his tire and rubber company more than 100 years ago in Akron, we've had a wonderful relationship with the Akron community and we have deep roots in Ohio,” Emkes said. “The last 20 years have been marked by numerous achievements for our company, and we feel that building a new world-class technical center in the city of Firestone's birth is good for our teammates, good for our company, and it makes good business sense.”
Bob Handlos, vice president, product development for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, served as leader of the team tasked with evaluating options both in Tennessee and Ohio for updating or replacing the nearly 100-year-old technical center currently in use.
The proposed technical center site is the southeast corner of South Main Street and Firestone Boulevard in Akron. The project also will include a multilevel parking facility across from the technical center.