AKRON—As a bridge between the city of Akron and the businesses that look to call it home, Sam DeShazior gets a lot of questions. But two always seem to come up: "Can I visit Goodyear?" and, "Do you know LeBron James?"
The answer to the second question is no. He does not know LeBron. But Goodyear? Goodyear he does know.
Because in 2007, Goodyear decided Akron was the place it wanted to call home. After mulling a decision to move its headquarters—and much speculation that it would—the Akron tire maker stayed right where it had been for more than 100 years.
That was a big deal, said DeShazior, director of business retention and expansion for Akron's Office of Integrated Development.
"Goodyear had a choice," he said. "If Goodyear wanted to move its headquarters operations somewhere else, all of the states around the nation would have thrown their hats into the ring. But Goodyear saw the value in being here."
Frank Seiberling established the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in 1898, naming it after Charles Goodyear, the American chemist who discovered vulcanized rubber. The tire maker expanded internationally in 1910, opening a subsidiary and plant in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Six years later, Goodyear notes on its website, it became the world's largest tire maker.
For the duration of its history, Goodyear has been part of the Akron community, playing an integral role in helping the city earn its nickname as "The Rubber Capital of the World."
In 2011, Goodyear re-established its roots in Akron, when it began building its new headquarters, connecting to the Innovation Center that already had been established.
"Goodyear is proud to be a global company headquartered in Akron, Ohio," Richard Kramer, Goodyear chairman, CEO and president, said at the April 2011 groundbreaking ceremony. "Both Goodyear and the city have changed and grown over the years, but our commitment to Akron remains constant. Goodyear will continue to be a vital part of this community's future."
That connection is why President Trump's call for a boycott of the tire maker impacts so much more than a single company. It has the potential to hit Akron hard, impacting a number of rubber industry companies and even the University of Akron.