No tyre making comeback for Goodyear’s home town

Goodyear has confirmed what many must have already realised – tyre makers build factories in economically favourable sites. The US doesn’t top any list of low-cost locations, and therefore the bid its home town launched to host a new factory planned for the Americas was always going to be a long shot. Akron City Council nevertheless declared itself “willing to do what it takes” to host the new plant – but its hopes have now been dashed by Goodyear’s chief financial officer, who has sent word that Akron – where Goodyear last produced car tyres in 1977 – is considered too costly.

The letter Laura Thompson sent to Akron City Council’s planning department on 2 September unequivocally stated Goodyear’s position regarding Akron. Excerpts were published by the Akron Beacon Journal: “Locating in Ohio would add more than $50 million a year in costs over other locations, leaving Goodyear at a significant competitive disadvantage,” Thompson wrote. She explained that the state of Ohio was eliminated from the list of potential candidates following an initial review of key factors such as logistics, labour costs and access to a deep-sea port. “Our site selection committee is now focusing its efforts on locations better suited to serving the needs of both our North American and Latin American businesses.”

Repsonding to the letter, Akron mayor Don Plusquellic expressed his and the city’s disappointment while leaving the door open for future Goodyear projects. “I am saddened, but I realise that it is not economical to ship millions of tyres from Ohio to Latin America where Goodyear’s growth in sales is occurring. We will continue to communicate with Goodyear to take advantage of every opportunity to add jobs in Akron.” Laura Thompson also alluded to the possibility of job creation within the city in her letter: “In the spirit of collaboration, we will include Ohio in our consideration of other opportunities to grow our business in the future. A strong Goodyear is good for Ohio and we believe the best way we can support Ohio’s economy is to make decisions that keep Goodyear winning in a highly competitive global environment.”

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