By LOU WILIN
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is locating its $35.5 million Global Technical Center in Findlay because of the factory and regional technical center here, plus community and state support, company President Roy Armes said Monday.
Hiring already has begun for the center. It will be operating on the second floor of the company’s regional technical center, west of Summit Street, by year-end, Armes said.
Cooper will be hiring 40 people for highly-specialized engineering and scientist positions over the next three to five years.
Their mission: Speed up development of new tire products. It is critical to Cooper remaining competitive, Armes said.
Research and development findings will be shared with Cooper’s regional technical centers in Findlay, Texas, China and the United Kingdom.
“Cooper is focused on developing our technical capabilities over recent years to a new level. This has enabled us to continue to develop world-class products that distinguish us in the marketplace,” he said.
“Thirty percent of our revenue comes from new products … developed and introduced within the past two years.”
Since 2007, Cooper Tire has replaced 75 to 80 percent of its product portfolio, said Chuck Yurkovich, vice president of global research and development for Cooper Tire.
“The Cooper of today is now far faster in tire development,” Armes said. “The global tech center is going to be a key part of those efforts.”
But it might have been located in Asia, Europe or somewhere else in the United States.
“It really quickly came down to Findlay for a lot of reasons,” Armes said. “We’ve got a plant here. We’ve got the regional technical resources that are here. We are getting a lot of support from the community and from the government in this state as well as the support and government locally here.”
“When you start adding all of that up, we’ve got a rich history here. All of that adds up to this being a very good place,” Armes said. “When you add up all the criteria we were looking for and all of the benefits for being here, it came down to this being a good choice for us.”
The state has awarded a $2.8 million grant to help Cooper Tire afford the technical center.
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