Brooklyn: American Greetings narrows new HQ sites to seven

7:41 PM, Nov 19, 2010   |    comments
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The company, which has been in Northeast Ohio more than 100 years, says if it builds a new headquarters complex, it will either be at its current location in Brooklyn, or in Brecksville, Beachwood, Independence, or Westlake, or at either of two sites in the Chicago area.

"The priority, bar none, is to make sure that a big employer in our region stays in our region," said Joe Roman, head of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

American Greetings says it started thinking about a new location after Brooklyn raised its city income tax from two to two and a half percent.

But Brooklyn Mayor Richard Balbier says that should not be a factor.

"We have checked, and there is never a company that has moved from anywhere because the city income tax went up a half a percent," Balbier told WKYC. He says Brooklyn will fight to keep its top employer in the city.

"We're an inner-ring suburb and we're competing against four of the wealthiest cities in the county," Balbier continued, "but we're giving it our best shot. We're not going to give up."

Mayors of the now-competing suburbs say American Greetings or its representatives came to them, and they did not try to steal 2,000 jobs from Brooklyn.

Still, those four suburbs will continue putting together proposals to the greeting card company.

"American Greetings was interested in our I-77 corridor," said Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby. "We would never poach jobs from another city."

"We have 130 acres off Rockside," Independence Mayor Gregory Kurtz told WKYC. "The company's representatives approached us about the possibility."

Beachwood Mayor Merle Gorden said it is natural that a company like American Greetings would consider Chagrin Highlands, where Eaton Corporation is planning to move, and where University Hospitals is near opening a huge new facility, the Ahuja Medical Center.

"We're excited about the possibility," Gorden said. "But I just want American Greetings to stay here in Northeast Ohio."

Roman agreed.

"It's not only because of all the jobs that employer has at their company, it's all the various supply chains that connect to that company," he explained, "from other small and large businesses that create more jobs in our community."

"It's job one, by far," Roman said, of the need to keep American Greetings in the region where it started in 1906.

In Brooklyn, Balbier sat behind his desk and remained confident. "They always told us we're still in the mix so hopefully we're still in the mix. I hope so," he said. 

"I hope we come out on top. We've made them our best offer," he said of his negotiations with American Greetings, "and hopefully they'll accept it."

The company has said it hopes to announce a decision by the end of February, 2011.


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