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AKRON, OH-Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc., the tire maker, is getting close to a decision on where to locate a $100 million technical center that would employ 600 people. The company currently operates out of a 100-year-old office facility here, originally used as one of the company’s factories. The firm is considering a relocation to a new building within the city, or possibly existing space in Murfreesboro, TN.

The company, with its headquarters based in Japan, has said it would need from 600,000 sf to one million sf, with at least 300,000 sf for offices and 300,000 sf for research space. A new building would be required here for that much consecutive space, but Murfreesboro has roughly that much available in its Gateway office center, located west of Interstate 24.

To combat Murfreesboro’s availability, state and local officials in Ohio have put together a $68 million incentive package to keep the company’s jobs in the area. An $18 million tax credit, part of the package, was approved by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority recently.

A spokesman for the company tells GlobeSt.com that though an answer was expected in May, there should be a decision soon. “We’re hoping to have some kind of recommendation to our Board of Directors in the next several weeks,” he says. “We really want to do a thorough analysis of all aspects, including the quality of life for the people who work at the current center, as well as what makes the most sense in terms of dollars and cents.” The company hopes to break ground in 2009, and move in during 2010, he says. Sites discussed in Akron include at property at Wilbeth Road and South Main Street, or near the current tech center off of White Pond Drive.

The jobs are a mix of office and laboratory workers, he says. “This division is just everyone who designs tires, such as engineers, chemists, designers, administrative functions, even people who come up with the compounds used. This is our design center for the Western Hemisphere,” the spokesman says.

The company first started in the Akron area as the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1900. However, Bridgestone, owned by a Japanese firm, bought Firestone for $2.6 billion in 1988, and moved the North American headquarters to Nashville, TN in the early 1990s.

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