Thursday, February 18, 2010

Strickland, Bridgestone Americas Break Ground On World-Class Technical Center

$100 million state-of-the-art facility to be built in company’s birthplace

AKRON, Ohio – Almost 110 years ago, Harvey S. Firestone founded the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in Akron. Today, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and the Akron community celebrated a new chapter in the legendary Firestone legacy: Bridgestone Americas broke ground on the company’s $100 million state-of-the-art Technical Center. The investment will keep hundreds of jobs in the community.

“Bridgestone Americas is an iconic Ohio company that helped shape Akron’s history of innovation and manufacturing and will be a vital partner in strengthening Northeast Ohio’s economic future,” Strickland said. “I believe in Ohio because of great companies like Bridgestone Americas that are innovating and creating jobs while demonstrating pride and passion for their work and their community.”

In July 2008 the company announced it would build the center in Akron during a celebration of the 1988 alliance of The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company with Bridgestone Corporation that transformed the companies’ combined operations into the world’s largest tire and rubber company. The new facility is expected to be complete at the end of 2011.

“By breaking ground on its new technical center, Bridgestone Americas is again recommitting itself to Ohio – where businesses continue to find a preferred location for capital investment, a highly skilled workforce, and a perfect balance between business pursuits and quality of life,” said Ohio Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. “There is no doubt that the history of this legendary company in Ohio is impressive and now with the advent of this tremendous investment its future looks even brighter and I could not be more proud to be a part of this historic day.”

In 2007 and 2008, Strickland and Fisher were committed to keeping Bridgestone in Akron and worked consistently with Bridgestone representatives in a year-long process to craft an agreement that addressed the company’s specific business needs. The Strickland Administration collaborated closely with the City of Akron, Summit County and regional partners to create an incentives package for the company’s transformational project.

“From the first non-skid tread to the Firestone balloon tire, some of the world’s most creative, innovative concepts in the tire industry have come from behind these doors and down the street at our Technical Center,” said Mark A. Emkes, Chairman, CEO and President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “There is no better place to continue our proud tradition of innovation than right here in Akron.”

Emkes helped to break ground on the new Technical Center in front of the legendary Harvey Firestone Memorial Statue. He was joined by Governor Strickland; Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher; U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton of Ohio; Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic; Summit County Executive Russ Pry; Asahiko Nishiyama, Chairman, CEO and President, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO); Yasutaka Enoki, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, BATO; Bob Handlos, Vice President of Product Development, BATO; Christine Karbowiak, Executive Vice President of Community and Corporate Relations, BSAM; and other regional leaders.

“Bridgestone’s new, state-of-the-art Tire Tech Center will attract and keep employees right here in Akron,” said Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH). “Today’s groundbreaking will result in immediate and much-needed construction jobs, will allow Bridgestone to create and retain 1,000 jobs, and will position Northeast Ohio to continue to lead in innovation, and research and development for years to come.”

“This exciting investment in the Bridgestone technical center will facilitate the good-paying jobs that will keep our kids in Northeast Ohio,” noted Congressman Ryan. “Today’s groundbreaking is the result of an unprecedented level of public and private cooperation on local, state, and federal levels. These many partners came together to support the continued investments of a company with historic ties to the city of Akron – all to ensure that Bridgestone is provided with the necessary resources to refine their product and continue to serve national and international markets.”

“Everyone here today shares a common bond; we all care about the city of Akron,” said Handlos. “Today, we break ground on a first-class facility that will be home to the next generation of innovation. Around the world, people will ride on tires that were designed and engineered right here by our teammates in Akron, Ohio.”


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