The announcement that
the city of Kent is going to sell the old Ametek site on Lake Street to Smithers-Oasis is a positive game-changer for the community. The icing on the cake of this announcement is the fact that Smithers-Oasis will relocate its corporate headquarters to the Fairmount property in downtown Kent, where it will join a division of The Davey Tree Expert Co. and Ametek's offices and laboratories.
Kent Economic Development Director Dan Smith called the announcement a triple win for the city and he is correct. Although the city received a grant of $1 million to demolish the old Ametek building and clean the site of hazardous materials, the issue of what should ultimately happen to the site remained and the Smithers-Oasis move is a result that could not be better.
Years ago, Smithers-Oasis did a great job of creating a campus-like environment at its plant off Starr Avenue. It expansion eastward to the former Ametek site will enable it to create a state-of-the-art 21st Century production center.
Smithers-Oasis was founded in Kent in 1954. The company's decision to relocate its corporate headquarters back to the Tree City reaffirms the importance of the rejuvenation efforts that the city is undergoing. Undeniably, the 1970s were difficuilt years of decline for Kent and one of its big losses as its fortunes turned down was the Smithers-Oasis corporate center, which understandably wanted to be located in a more positive environment. Now that the community has done such a remarkable turnaround, Kent is able to offer more and attract corporate centers such as the one Smithers-Oasis will bring to the downtown.
Kent's tax base will strengthen because of this. The Lake Street industrial park, which is nearly 100 years old, will become a showplace. Besides becoming a destination point because of its restaurants and retailing and close proximity to the Kent State University campus, downtown Kent is being transformed into a bustling center of corporate life as Smithers-Oasis takes its place in the Fairmount buildings.
Smithers-Oasis has grown and now produces and sells it floral products throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America. It is a global enterprise. How exciting it is that its corporate headquarters soon will be in downtown Kent.