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News and Press

May 09, 2012
New Downtown Akron Business Opens Its Headquarters


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New downtown Akron business opens its headquarters
By Katie Byard

Beacon Journal business writer
Published: May 9, 2012 - 10:09 PM
 

The new headquarters of Akron Polymer Systems on North Summit Street in Akron. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

One of downtown Akron’s newest businesses is on one of the city’s oldest building sites. 
 
On Wednesday, Akron Polymer Systems, a tech startup that develops polymers for various customers, celebrated the opening of its new downtown headquarters/laboratory at 62 N. Summit St.   Company co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Frank Harris said that construction workers found remnants “of all kinds of structures below this site, cisterns and open spaces,” which had to be filled in.
Bricks dating to the mid-1800s were found at the site, near Perkins Street and next door to the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
 
The new $1.6 million facility includes an old warehouse converted into 5,000 square feet of manufacturing space and a 9,700-square-foot expansion.  A new slanted roof gives the place a contemporary look; it was designed to complement the architecture of the nearby Akron Art Museum.
 
The warehouse, a sturdy structure with thick concrete walls, “is a perfect type of facility for doing light manufacturing,” Harris said. He said Akron Polymer Systems is planning a pilot production line, where polymer film would be made as part of the development process.
 
The company’s 12 staffers develop polymer films and related products.  One film is slated to be used on the exterior of the High Altitude airship being developed by Lockheed Martin in Akron. Lockheed Martin has said the unmanned airships are designed to remain aloft over one spot for months and are a less expensive alternative to surveillance and communications satellites.
 
Akron Polymer Systems also is working on films that would be used to make a better screen on tablet computers and smart phones, as well as an implant that would be used to promote bone growth.
 
Harris said the hope is that the company will grow at the new facility, which has room for 40 to 60 employees. He envisions hiring more salaried technicians as well as some hourly workers.
 
Harris, a now-retired University of Akron professor, started APS in 2002 with Stephen Cheng, dean of the university’s College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.
In 2005, company staffers began working out of rental space at Omnova Solutions’ offices off Gilchrist Road, where space was limited.
 
On Wednesday, a few hours before the grand opening festivities began, Harris noted that the business is the first to locate in what the city calls its Biomedical Corridor. He praised government entities that helped make the move downtown possible, noting that the company secured a low-interest loan from the Ohio Department of Development for construction on the 0.88-acre site.  The city provided the land, which had been in a land bank, in exchange for capital improvements to the property, Harris said. The city also provided a parking lot.  The entire project cost is valued at more than $3.5 million.
 
City officials along with University of Akron leaders were scheduled to attend the event.
 
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.
 
The new headquarters of Akron Polymer Systems on North Summit Street in Akron. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)
 
 
Dr. Frank Harris, the CEO and president of Akron Polymer Systems (APS) speaks during an open house of the new headquarters of APS on North Summit Street in Akron. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)



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