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GOJO, the maker of Akron-based Purell, to lease space at the Coronavirus shuttered IX Center in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND, Ohio GOJO Industries, the maker of Akron-based Purell hand sanitizer, said it would lease 700,000 square feet from the IX Center in Cleveland, two months after the operator of the event space said it would close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said in a statement Friday that it had signed a two-year lease to house the inventory at the center, located next to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, which is much higher than normal given the rapid increase in production this year.

Using the 2.2 million square foot construction signals could bring it to life in the future as the events industry remains decimated by the pandemic.

GOJO products have been in high demand since the pandemic hit the United States earlier this year and said it produced and shipped 300% more Purell this year than 2019. The company also said it uses two million feet. squares of manufacturing space and had doubled the number of factories it has, which now include locations in Maple Heights and Navarre.

The dramatic steps we have taken to increase uptime, including the use of creative solutions such as the use of the IX Center, allow us to serve frontline workers, schools, businesses, and make disinfectant for Purell’s hands readily available again to consumers on retail shelves and online, GOJO President and CEO Carey Jaros said in the release.

The city of Cleveland owns the IX Center, obtaining it in 1999 under threat from a prominent estate. It was built in the 1940s, after the United States War Department authorized construction of the huge facility for military components. It was first nicknamed the Cleveland Bomber Factory, then the Cleveland Tank Factory and operated by General Motors.

Operators only started using it as a showroom in 1985.

The IX Center Corp. manages it, with a lease that runs until 2024. The company, announcing the closure of the facility in September, noted that the effect of the pandemic, which has led government officials and health experts to deter large gatherings, on the event industry.

Neither the city nor a spokesperson for IX Center Corp. immediately provided comments on GOJO’s new lease.

The last event held at the center was the Cleveland Auto Show in February and early March. Auto Show organizers said Monday they were postponing the show for next year due to center closures and the pandemic, but said they were able to put on the show at the Huntington Convention Center in downtown Cleveland.

Other 2021 events planned for the center, such as Ohio RV Supershow and the Great Big Home + Garden Show, were also canceled.

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