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Kodak official: Company keeping R&D center in Ohio

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Eastman Kodak Co. reportedly looked at relocating a 500-employee research-and-development center to Indiana, but will instead stay put in Ohio, according to a company official.

The New York-based photography company told economic development officials in Ohio that it was considering moving its Dayton-area plant to New York or Indiana, according to a Sept. 27 report by the Dayton Daily News.

But Thursday, Kodak spokesman Chris Veronda issued a statement that he said makes clear the company will keep its Ohio operations where they are.

"The State of Ohio [tax-incentive] package provides a valuable incentive for our plans to continue investing in our growth initiatives in the Dayton area,” Veronda wrote in an e-mail to IBJ. "In other words, this is a pretty clear statement that Dayton is going to remain home for these operations."

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 30-percent, 10-year refundable job-retention tax credit for Kodak, according to the Dayton Daily News. Kodak must commit to retain those jobs in Ohio for 13 years.

The idea of moving the Ohio operations to New York made some sense, as struggling Kodak has excess capacity at its Rochester headquarters. But talking to Indiana may have been mostly a negotiating tactic, noted Tim Monger, a site-selection consultant at Cassidy Turley in Indianapolis.

“The Indiana piece sounded to me like leverage with Ohio,” Monger said. A spokeswoman for the Indiana Economic Development Corp. declined to comment on Kodak's possible move.

Kodak’s Ohio R&D center focuses on inkjet technology called Stream, which produces high-end prints of digital images. Kodak, which has been losing money as its annual revenue has declined 16 percent in the past three years, sees these inkjet presses as key to its future.

Kodak’s stock price plunged this week after the company disclosed Monday it was drawing $160 million on its credit line. On Wednesday, debt-rating agencies Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings Services both downgraded Kodak’s bonds—which already had junk status. Fitch assigned Kodak a rating that indicates a default  “appears probable.”

Kodak’s stock price closed Wednesday at $1.55 per share, down 35 percent since Friday and down 71 percent for the year.

Kodak, a powerhouse until digital cameras destroyed its film business, has struggled to make money in the digital imaging business. But the inkjet business continues to grow, providing hope for the future.

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  • Let's boycott Kodak
    ...oh wait, the market already has.
  • Kodak
    When even stockholders are saying it's time to liquidate, I wouldn't hold out much for these jobs.

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