Local Politics

Easley's Development Proposal Could Doom Goodyear Grants

Posted August 29, 2007

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— Speculation heightened Wednesday that Gov. Mike Easley would veto legislation providing Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. up to $40 million in state grants for upgrading its tire plant in Fayetteville.

Lawmakers last month approved a bill that would amend the state's Job Development Investment Grants program, which traditionally has provided tax breaks to companies looking to locate or expand in North Carolina.

The amendments would expand the scope of companies eligible for JDIG money to include "multinational heavy industry manufacturing" facilities that maintain their existing work forces and agree to invest at least $200 million to upgrade their plants over the next five years.

Although Goodyear wasn't mentioned in the bill, lawmakers said the proposal was written with the company in mind. Grants would be restricted to companies located in economically distressed counties and having at least 2,400 full-time employees. The grants would require each recipient to maintain its work force.

Goodyear employs about 2,700 people in Fayetteville and is Cumberland County's largest private employer.

Easley has expressed concerns about the legislation and is facing a Sept. 1 deadline to veto it or let it become law.

Late Wednesday afternoon, his office announced his intention to pursue legislative approval next year to entice manufacturing companies to expand in disadvantaged parts of the state.

The American Productivity and Competitiveness Act of North Carolina would provide grants to manufacturing companies that employ at least 1,500 people in distressed counties. The grants would come from both state and local sources.

“Any effort to retain a major economic engine in a community needs to be a fair partnership between the state and local governments – one that appropriately balances both the risks and the rewards of the expanded economic activity,” Easley said in a statement.

Officials with Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC said Easley's proposal could swing an expansion of the company's tire plant in Wilson. Local officials said they would partner with the state in providing the company with grants under the program.

However, Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Cumberland County Democrat and Easley ally, said Goodyear deserves a custom-fit grant package after search-engine giant Google and computer maker Dell Inc. were offered hefty tax breaks to build new operations in North Carolina.

"Is it One North Carolina?" Rand asked, referring to a state economic-development fund. "Is that what we're trying to do, or are we playing favorites?"

State Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, who sponsored the so-called Goodyear bill, said Monday he would call for a special legislative session to override any veto by Easley. Rand said he thinks lawmakers would be able to muster the three-fifths majority needed to override a veto, but he wouldn't definitively say he would push for a special session.

"We all have our responsibilities, and I intend to exercise mine," he said.

23 Comments

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  • beachboater Aug 30, 2007

    What is this pop-up that asks if I'm sure that my post isn't crude or offensive???

  • beachboater Aug 30, 2007

    If Goodyear would put in a school of some type, Easley couldn't get the money there fast enough.

  • Tripwire Aug 30, 2007

    To buy American only you just about have to buy online. Still selection may not be that great. Google American Made or buy USA to search for American made products. Expect to pay more though. I just ordered an american made shirt for 40.00 instead of a 15.00 shirt made in China.

  • 68_polara Aug 30, 2007

    Anything we do to prevent free trade ends up biting us. Buying American products when possible and not buying products from China is what makes a difference. After the European union we needed NAFTA.

  • Harvey Aug 30, 2007

    I'm on the fence, but even as a liberal-leaning independent-registered voter, I blame that stupid NAFTA deal Clinton put together. I knew it wouldn't end well for the US.

  • weasleyes Aug 30, 2007

    "I wish there was a place we could go to and only buy US made goods."
    Duster: Amen! I would patronize that place, even if their prices were much more than the stores that sell items made somewhere else.

  • Sarge Aug 30, 2007

    saw this coming a long time ago!

  • 68_polara Aug 30, 2007

    I just don't get it... just don't get it! Just recently Gov. Mike Easley endorsed giving money to companies to locate in the triangle where we have too much growth occurring. Where the state and local governments are unable to provide schools, roads, and necessary infrastructure for the growth. Where so much land is already being swallowed up with new houses, malls, and office buildings every time you turn around. But yet he's fighting handing out money which would be used to expand a Goodyear plant in an area which can use the jobs. This make no sense for two reasons. Manufacturing and farming are the core of an economy. Second, this is an area that needs the jobs, where areas like the triangle are fine for the time being. Seems like Goodyear needs to hire an effective lobbyist and fire the one they have now.

  • eduncw Aug 30, 2007

    The State should get some free blimps out of the deal.

  • tarheel1980 Aug 30, 2007

    Seems like something might be going on in the Easley office. Why would he be for the Google deal with so few jobs and against this one.

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