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Babcock & Wilcox to move operations to Akron’s East End, designate Akron corporate headquarters

September 24, 2018

Babcock & Wilcox to move operations to Akron’s East End, designate Akron corporate headquarters

AKRON, Ohio - Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises announced Monday it will move its Barberton operations to Akron’s East End Development and designate Akron as its corporate headquarters.

Founded in Barberton in 1867, B&W has served the energy and environmental technologies industries from its current site since 1906.

B&W employees learned Monday morning about the change, which will entail  designating Akron as the corporate headquarters, formerly Charlotte, North Carolina, then moving 700-employees to a new 175,000-square-foot space in East Akron by the third quarter of 2019, said B&W spokesman Ryan Cornell.

A parts manufacturing and distribution facility will remain in Copley, he said. The company will also keep some sales, service and corporate workers at its former headquarters in North Carolina.

“This is positive news for our employees,” Cornell said. “A 15-year lease shows commitment to Northeast Ohio. And bringing the corporate headquarters here and signing the 15-year lease shows a lot of commitment to employees in Northeast Ohio.”

B&W employs more workers in Ohio than in any of its other locations around the world said B&W President & CEO Leslie Kass in a news release.

“As we work to serve a transforming global power industry, employees in our Ohio-based headquarters will continue to play a central role in the success of the company,” she stated in the release.

The company has been looking in earnest at whether to stay, build or move over the past two years, Cornell said, and the East End Development fulfills the company’s needs.

Barberton officials said they were disappointed in the company’s decision.

“We wanted Barberton to be part of the solution and we presented a strong and competitive incentive package that also met our obligation to spend public dollars in the most responsible way possible,” said Barberton Mayor William B. Judge in a news release. “So, this is obviously not the decision that anyone in Barberton had hoped for.”

Under a Summit County Job Creation and Retention and Revenue Sharing Agreement, Barberton will retain a portion of  income tax revenue generated at the Akron site for five years, the city said in the release.

The former headquarters of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the East End Development is owned under a partnership between the Industrial Realty Group LLC and Industrial Commercial Properties LLC. The developers specialize in coverting former industrial spaces into mixed-use developments around the country. The partners are currently working on a proposal to redevelop the Lockheed Martin campus in Akron.

“The big news is we’re getting a corporate headquarters to move from North Carolina to Akron,” said IRG President Stuart Lichter. “That’s a first. We’re amazingly excited about what we’ve created here. It’s a terrific success story. We’re recreated the neighborhood.”

The East End Development comprises about 500,000 square feet of redeveloped space. Health insurer SummaCare moved in earlier this year and the Akron Preparatory School has occupied about 42,000 square feet there since 2013.

A first-floor lobby development is underway now that’s similar to a hotel lobby, Lichter said. It will feature a social hub for the tenants, including meeting and conference space, a fitness center, a food market, a bar area and an outdoor terrace.

Starbucks and Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt have signed long-term leases to occupy a mini-complex across East Market Street.

“The new space in Akron is dynamic,” Cornell said. “It’s an exciting location for our employees to work, and to enjoy themselves after work.”

The location also offers a newer Hilton Garden Inn, which is the hotel franchise the company uses for its out-of-town clients, Cornell said.

The  East End space is designed with a tech-industrial edge that is well-suited to the type of work done at Babcock & Wilcox, said Christopher Semarjian, Industrial Commercial Properties owner.

“This is great for Akron to have Babcock & Wilcox make a commitment for the long term,” Semarjian said. “And we needed a very large tenant like Babcock to help kick-start this portion of the redevelopment.”

As part of the agreement, the Industrial Realty Group has agreed to buy the site B&W will vacate, which has five buildings, for an undisclosed sum.

“We appreciate everything the city of Barberton has done for the company and the employees,” Cornell said, including making the purchase of the facility part of the deal with IRG. “We’re committed to making sure we do the best we can to make sure his facility is put to good use.”

Barberton’s mayor is already in talks with the developers about the future of the site, according to the city’s release. The developers say they are looking to redevelop the site in similar fashion to the East End Development.

“There are some good buildings there and we don’t plan to leave a huge hole where they were,” Lichter said. “Over the long term, we’ll bring something back to Barberton. We’re at the very beginning stage. We’ll have more information in the future.”

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