Bridgestone announces plans to build new tech center in Akron

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As part of the celebration of the 1988 alliance of The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. with Bridgestone Corp. (see related item, "Bridgestone celebrates 20th anniversary of Firestone purchase"), it was announced that the company plans to build its new tech center in Akron, Ohio.


Mark Emkes, Chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. (BSAH) and Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT), said that the team charged with evaluating the relocation of the Bridgestone Firestone Technical Center has recommended that the company build its new state-of-the-art facility in Akron.


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 Center in Akron and keep at least 1,000 related jobs in the community, although additional work will be necessary before a definitive and binding final agreement can be signed.


“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,” Emkes said. “We’re working together with Akron, Summit County, the Port Authority and Ohio officials in hopes of getting a final agreement. While we’re excited to have this agreement framework, we still have some work to do before we can break ground.”


To be finalized, 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.


“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, BFNT, has 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. Handlos wanted to ensure teammates’ voices were heard during the process, seeking input about the new Technical Center from many teammates from a wide variety of disciplines.


“I want to thank all of the government officials in both Tennessee and Ohio who have worked so hard on this project. Our team was extremely impressed with the professionalism of the teams in both states, and with the innovative and creative proposals submitted by both locations. I especially want to thank our teammates for their patience, support and feedback during this process,” Handlos said. “As we’ve said all along, we deserve to work in a world-class facility. We are now one step closer to realizing that dream.”

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