Omnova Solutions still carries an echo of General Tire & Rubber Co. and the glory days of Akron as a big industrial town. So there were deep pangs when the headquarters moved to Fairlawn years ago, and they are felt today, albeit to a much lesser degree, as the company makes plans to move its corporate leadership north, to the Chagrin Highlands campus in Beachwood.
Anytime a company leaps from one place to another within the region, it is hard not to recall the pledges from local leaders about avoiding poaching, competing among ourselves for the presence of companies. Yet in the past, both Fairlawn and Akron have benefited from such movement.
Worth stressing in this instance is the regional angle, and not as small comfort. Logic holds that Omnova gradually will focus community commitments on its new surroundings. Yet the company hardly is abandoning the Akron area, two-thirds of its local employees here, new investments made in its plants and technology center.
A city must do all it can to develop business and create jobs, including the pursuit of improved schools. At the same time, success in the global economy turns on the capacity of the regional economy, on the clusters of manufacturing and other businesses, the strength of its research components, starting with its universities. In that way, Omnova isn’t traveling far. It remains part of Akron and the rest of Northeast Ohio.