Goodyear Hints at Closing, Seeks State Help - Tire Review Magazine

Goodyear Hints at Closing, Seeks State Help

(Akron/Tire Review – Fayetteville Observer) The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. wants millions of tax dollars to modernize a Fayetteville plant that is at risk of closing, state officials say.

State Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Fayetteville, confirmed Thursday that state, local and company officials are discussing options to help upgrade the 37-year-old plant.

“We are going to look to assist them and have a true private-local-state partnership,” he said.

With about 2,600 employees, it is the third-largest private employer in the county.

Company spokesman Amy Brei said Goodyear has spoken with state officials in North Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Tennessee about the need to invest in plants and the availability of state incentives. The company is based in Akron, Ohio.

“The discussions have been to be more competitive and preserve jobs,” she said.

Several sources close to the process say the Fayetteville tire plant would need around $40 million from taxpayers, but no exact figures have been proposed.

The money would be in addition to millions more that Goodyear would spend on the plant if it decided to overhaul it.

State Rep. Marvin Lucas, a Democrat from Spring Lake, said Goodyear officials have told the local delegation in the past month that the company is considering closing two of five plants. Those being considered for closure are the Fayetteville site and plants in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Canada.

Brei said specific dollar amounts were not discussed when company and state officials met recently. She also would not comment about the possibility of plant closings.

“What Goodyear has said is it’s evaluating its manufacturing footprint in North America,” she said.

The proposed assistance would require a major infusion of state money that has not been budgeted, said state Sen. Tony Rand, the Senate’s majority leader.

“The state has a fairly aggressive approach for recruiting industry, but we don’t really have a bunch for retention,” he said. “Once you start down the road, where do you stop?”

In 2004, the legislature approved as much as $278 million in state incentives to Dell Inc., which opened a manufacturing plant near Winston-Salem that employs more than 1,500.

In 2004, Cumberland County commissioners gave the local Goodyear plant – then known as Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. – $1.17 million for agreeing to spend $47 million on production lines and a warehouse. The commissioners also agreed then to spend another $2 million if Goodyear invested $103 million before Dec. 31, 2009.

The county contracts with the Cumberland County Business Council to negotiate incentives packages.

According to county sources, Bill Martin, president of the business council, will update the commissioners about Goodyear on Monday night during a closed session.

“It’s premature for me to make any comment,” Martin said.

He said he planned to privately discuss several projects with the commissioners. “I don’t expect them to take any action after Monday’s executive session,” he said.

Billy King, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Work reductions

One of the plant’s three shifts began working a limited schedule this week — the fourth work reduction since June.

Company officials have blamed declining demand in tires and rising costs in raw materials for the work reductions.

Darryl Jackson, head of the plant’s Local 959 union, understands the importance of modernization; without it, he said, a plant can close. But workers are at the end of a three-year labor contract that prevents Goodyear from closing the plant, a so-called protected status.

That contract is being extended daily until a new three-year agreement is reached, he said. The company has proposed retaining that protected status in the next contract, he said.

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