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Economy and Business


Goodyear celebrates new global headquarters in Akron
The 639,000 square-foot-building is about a third its former size but high tech
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
SLIDESHOW: An employee can bee seen on a walkway oveer the lobby that connects the technical center to the HQ.
Courtesy of MARK URYCKI
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In The Region:
Just one year ago, Summit County officials were helping to cut the ribbon on a brand new $100 million dollar Bridgestone Technical Center in Akron.

Today, they were cutting another ribbon -- this time on a new world headquarters for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. While the blimp flew overhead, Goodyear officials expressed delight with the new building. And community officials are delighted that a major employer is committed to the area.
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From Goodyear’s new parking deck, you can see the empty land where the world headquarters of General Tire once stood. That building was razed when the company moved south. The late 80’s and early 90’s saw other rubber companies exit the city.


But their research and work with polymers did stay behind. And Goodyear Chairman Richard Kramer now calls Akron the ”Innovation Capital,” something Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, an Akron native, likes hearing.

“Goodyear is an innovative company and you look at so many companies in the area, what the University of Akron is doing, innovative new technologies. That’s probably an appropriate title.”

Multiplication of jobs and image
The new headquarters was built adjacent to the company’s technical center on what used to be called Martha Avenue. Now, it's called Innovation Way. The state, county and city all helped Goodyear with tax breaks and other incentives. Summit County Executive Russ Pry says it was worth it because the 3,000 Goodyear workers here have a multiplier effect on the economy.


“About seven or eight other jobs [per Goodyear worker]: restaurants, dry cleaners, automobiles mechanics, insurance companies. So it’s professional services, regular services that get supported by the people who work here.”

Added Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic the multiplier applies to intangibles, too.

“The immeasurable is the impact in a positive way for the community’s image, to look at this facility’s being here and attracting the best and the brightest young people, researchers as well.”

An integrated history
The roots of rubber companies like Goodyear run deep in the city. Just talk to city Planning Director Marco Sommerville, who got one of his first jobs at Goodyear – following his father who worked there.

 “My great-grandfather also worked here, told his brothers in Alabama about jobs in Akron and they all moved here – about eight of them. And they all retired from Goodyear. So Goodyear has had a major impact on our lives in this community.”

City and county officials both say having a Fortune 500 headquarters like Goodyear, along with other international companies helps them attract new employers.

“Success breeds success”  said Pry.

Built for spontaneous success
Goodyear Chairman Kramer thinks the building will help with that success. It has large, open rooms with lots of light and places people can meet. For the first time, the headquarters is attached to the 1915 red brick technical center – where race tires are still made -- and the two buildings now share a cafeteria.

He recalled a conversation with Goodyear's chief financial officer, who was working on a project with someone he bumped into in the cafeteria. "'‘We talked through something; it took us five minutes. We would have had to schedule a meeting before. It would have taken a week to get it on the calendar.  Here we resolved it in the lunch line.’”

Solutions drawn on napkins, says Kramer: "It happens. It does!"

Not out with the old
One more benefit to the local economy could come from new use for the old Goodyear headquarters.

Developer Stu Lichter from the California-based IRG bought the old complex just north of Interstate 76 and is turning it into  housing and office space. He built the new one headquarters just across the expressway.

The new HQ cost about $110 million; the new parking deck about $30 million and renovating the old complex, another $30 million. 

“A lot of money was spent here,” Lichter laughed, “a lot of money was pumped into this economy.”

And both company and community officials say they’re both getting good traction out of the development.

Images with audio

Developer Stu Lichter says his plans for the old Goodyear complex no longer call for much retail but you can still suggest it to him.


Developer Stu Lichter says his plans for the old Goodyear complex no longer call for much retail but you can still suggest it to him.

(Click image for larger view.)

Listener Comments:

Great article.....enjoyed the pics. I am a Retired Goodyear Facilities Planner.....nice to see that they didn't cut corners......looks like a wonderful place to work / innovate. Congrats to the latest Goodyear Team.......hope to get back to Akron someday soon to have a look see around the outside of the new Hdqs.....would be nice to have a Retiree Luncheon and update !!!

George L Ward,
ex Mgr Facilities Planning - Asia
Retired 2006 w/39 yrs service


Posted by: George L Ward (State College, Pa) on June 18, 2013 2:06AM
Good news for Akron and Northeast Ohio. Another opportunity to keep some of the high tech qualified young engineers close to home.


Posted by: Gene Pawlowski (New York City) on June 7, 2013 9:06AM
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