AKRON (June 3, 2008) — May 31 has come and gone, and Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) still has yet to decide on the location of its new technical center, a company spokesman said.
The Nashville, Tenn.-based tire manufacturer initially hoped to decide by the end of May whether the center would remain in Akron or be relocated to Nashville, but plans are taking longer than expected.
“There's a lot of factors to look at and a lot of numbers to crunch, and we don't want to let speed get in the way of doing a hard, thorough analysis,” the spokesman said.
BFS is looking at both “quantitative and qualitative issues,” according to the spokesman, deciding which location makes the most sense for business continuity and will help the company retain the highest engineering count.
“That's stuff you can't obviously put a dollar figure on, but that stuff is important,” he said.
The company also plans to notify its 600-plus technical center employees of any status changes before making a public announcement on the decision, the spokesman said.
Akron officials in March presented BFS with a $68 million proposal to keep the center in the city. Under the proposal, Akron would buy the old center and construct a new one, which BFS would then lease.
In similar fashion, Goodyear recently went through negotiations with the city that ended with the company signing an agreement to construct a new headquarters. A spokesman for the city said the difference between that situation and the BFS one is that Goodyear “wasn't being actively courted” to leave Akron.
“This isn't like what we did with Goodyear,” the city spokesman said. “We're head-to-head (competing) with a city in Tennessee.”
The city spokesman added there is a “feeling of a little more urgency” because of the situation, but Mayor Don Plusquellic understands the delay.
“When (Mr. Plusquellic) saw the volume of information they have to process…he was thinking the end of May was probably a little optimistic,” he said.
BFS still hopes to have a decision by year-end and plans to move into a new center in 2011.