Tire Business staff report
Akron, Ohio -- Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) intends to keep its technical centre in Akron, pending approval of the recommendation by a Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. (BSAH) task force by Bridgestone Corp. and relevant government entities.
Akron and a site in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, were competing to land the tech centre deal.
If approved, the project would result in the construction of a 22 300-m2 technical centre near the existing centre at a cost of more than $100 million (Euro 65 million), BFS officials disclosed at a ceremony in Akron marking the 20th anniversary of Bridgestone Corp.'s acquisition of the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
The new centre, which would be in use by 2012, would allow BFS to keep its technical staff of about 1000 in Akron.
â€œWe'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,â€ said Mark Emkes, chairman and CEO of BSAH and Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire L.L.C. (BFNT).
â€œWe're working together with Akron, Summit County, the Port Authority and Ohio officials in hopes of getting a final agreement,â€ he said. â€œWhile we're excited to have this agreement framework, we still have some work to do before we can break ground.â€
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 Technical Centre in Akron.
To be finalised, the recommendation must be approved by the boards of directors of BFNT, BSAH and Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corp. The agreement also requires final approvals of all the appropriate government entities.
â€œSince Harvey Firestone founded his tyre 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,â€ Emkes said. â€œThe last 20 years have been marked by numerous achievements for our company, and we feel that building a new world-class technical centre in the city of Firestone's birth is good for our teammates, good for our company, and it makes good business sense.â€
Bob Handlos, vice president, product development for BFNT, 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 centre currently in use.
The proposed technical centre site is the southeast corner of South Main Street and Firestone Boulevard in Akron. The project also will include a multi-level parking facility across from the technical centre.
From Tire Business (A Crain publication)