American Greetings moving headquarters from Brooklyn to Westlake

New building to be at Crocker Park

BROOKLYN, Ohio - American Greetings announced Friday it is moving its headquarters from Brooklyn to a developed retail area in Westlake.

The announcement came at a 10 a.m. meeting, several workers told NewsChannel5.

A spokesperson for American Greetings told NewsChannel5 the company will build a new building at Crocker Park and hopes to have it open within three years.

Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough said the city gave the company incentives to move there, including a one half of one percent tax credit for 15 years. He said tax increment financing will be a part of this project, which will allow infrastructure to be built.

Clough said the ground breaking will be in 2012 and the new facility will be located on the south side of Crocker Park near Trader Joe's.

American Greetings, which will move all of its 1,750 current employees, released its projected number of jobs created by this move:
- 520 full-time new retail
- 270 full-time new hotel/retail

- 1,250 for headquarters
- 440 for new retail
- 560 for new hotel/retail
- 550 for infrastructure improvements

The company said it will not move its headquarters out of Brooklyn until 2014 and will work with the city of Brooklyn, Cuyahoga County, state of Ohio, Greater Cleveland Partnership and TeamNEO officials to help find a replacement owner for tenant for the builiding in Brooklyn.

"The governor is glad to have been able to help American Greetings and its 2,000 employees stay here in Ohio. The state doesn't have a role in the company's decision on where exactly to locate within the state," said a spokesperson for Gov. John Kasich (R).

On March 7, the company's CEO said the company will remain in Northeast Ohio, but did not disclose where. To entice American Greetings to stay in state, Ohio lawmakers pushed through legislation earlier this year that offers tax breaks for the company.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said he's concerned how the move will affect the future of the city of Brooklyn.

"I am pleased that we are keeping American Greetings jobs in Northeast Ohio. But I am greatly concerned about the impact the move will have on the City of Brooklyn," said Kucinich. "Mayor Richard Balbieri made every effort to keep American Greetings on its Brooklyn campus and to preserve the $3 million in annual income tax revenue these jobs provide to the city. He has bent over backwards to offer concessions above and beyond what any community the size of Brooklyn could reasonably offer. Now it's up to the State of Ohio and American Greetings to help redevelop this campus. I am glad the jobs will stay in the area. This is good for Westlake. We cannot forget Brooklyn."

The Westlake mayor said one of the concerns he's heard is about increased traffic in the Crocker Park area. But he said with the increased tax revenue from American Greetings being there, the city will find ways to accommodate more traffic congestion.

Americans Greetings sent us this letter that was sent to employees Friday:

To All Associates:

We want to personally share with you the exciting decision that the new home for American Greetings will be in Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio. The Company will build its new headquarters facility, to be known as the American Greetings Creative Studios, at this location and we expect to move into that space in approximately three years.

As you know, the process of making this decision has taken some time. But it is a major decision that will impact the future of American Greetings and its associates for many years to come. It also was a difficult decision because it means leaving a location that American Greetings has called home for more than 50 years. During the next three years, we hope to work with the City of Brooklyn, Cuyahoga County, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and others to look at possible other uses for our current facility.

The relocation study was launched last year to consider how our facility could help position American Greetings for continued growth and enable us to adapt to changing industry needs. We realized that we must have an environment that more accurately reflects and effectively supports our creative and innovative culture. Our headquarters must reflect who we are now and what we want to be in the future.

We are confident that moving to Westlake is the right business decision for our consumers, our retailers, our associates, shareholders and American Greetings – both now and in the future. And we are pleased that we are maintaining our commitment to Cuyahoga County and northeast Ohio by staying in the area.

Crocker Park is a vibrant retail center, with a variety of stores in step with the latest trends and appealing to a wide range of consumers. This will create an energy and synergy that will inspire our ability to create products that meet the needs of our consumers and retailers.

Crocker Park also is a lifestyle center that will be attractive to our current

and future associates. You will be able to shop, dine and find a variety of leisure activities nearby. It is easily accessible from several local freeways. The amenities and environment at Crocker Park will give our associates in every department a place to flourish, and maximize their performance, innovation and creativity. That is why we're re-naming our headquarters the American Greetings Creative Studios.

While all the sites we considered, including our current location in Brooklyn, had attractive features, we couldn't replicate this total experience anywhere else.

It is exciting to think about the kind of facility our Creative Studios will be. It will be designed for you – to accommodate and encourage your best ideas, your best thinking and your best work. It will put American Greetings in a position to grow, to continue to be successful and to produce excellent products for decades to come.

At the same time, we realize that moving will affect the personal lives of some associates and their families. With three years to consider and adjust to these changes, and the prospect of working at an amazing complex, we think associates will be delighted when we move to our new home.

Thank you for your patience during this time of decision-making. We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of this project. And we look forward to an exciting and successful future for our associates and American Greetings.

During the next several weeks, there will be Brown Bag meetings for associates to ask questions about the relocation. Please watch imAGine for information on how to register to attend.

With best regards,
Zev Weiss, Chief Executive Officer
Jeff Weiss, President and Chief Operating Officer

More details are coming in on this developing story. Keep checking for more information.

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