Happy Thanksgiving for Akron? Goodyear, city officials remain hopeful

Nov. 22, 2007

Back in April, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. held a press conference to announce it was hoping to move its global and North American headquarters from Akron to new buildings adjacent to its Akron (Ohio) Technical Center.

(See "Goodyear looks at plans to move headquarters from Akron to... Akron," April 11, 2007.)

Goodyear, the City of Akron and a real estate developer have been trying since then to work out the details, even as rumors swirled about Goodyear being courted by North Carolina.

Will Goodyear stay in Akron? The tentative deadline for the answer is Dec. 31, 2007.

"Since the announcement in the spring, a lot of things have had to happen to make this come to fruition," said Rob Whitehouse, director of corporate communications for Goodyear, who told www.moderntiredealer.com that both state and city officials are involved.

"We would like to have this resolved by the end of this year. And regarding the rumors of other communities, we are focused strictly on this proposal until the end of the year."

In the latest issue of Akron City magazine, Mayor Don Plusquellic outlined the importance of keeping Goodyear headquartered in Akron.

"Goodyear is crucial to Akron's well-being," he wrote. Goodyear "is burdened by its past, namely the grey, old lady of East Market St. that has been its corporate headquarters for most of the last century."

Plusquellic is aware of the hurdles. "Make no mistake: With the technology of today, the corporation bearing the name of Goodyear can be operated from anywhere."

The developer, Stu Lichter of the Industrial Real Estate Group, has offered to buy the existing headquarters and construct two new buildings in a long-term lease deal.

"This is not a 'done deal' by any means," wrote the mayor. "Goodyear has stated: 'In the interest of fairness to shareholders, the company needed to thoroughly study all options.'

"To recruit the top-quality talent that it needs, Goodyear must compete with corporations in New York, California, the Carolinas and elsewhere. If Goodyear is to attract and retain top talent, the company's headquarters will need a whole new community around it."