Statistics don’t lie, but attitudes have the power to shatter and overcome numbers.
This is the message that county officials and community leaders are spreading to Weakley Countians and other citizens of the West Tennessee and southeastern region in light of the imminent closing of the Goodyear plant in Union City.
Numbers released by John Bucy of the Northwest Tennessee Economic Development District paint a devastating picture of loss. Of Goodyear’s 1,983 total employees – 213 salaried and 1,770 hourly – 1,627 are Tennessee residents, 354 are Kentucky residents, one hails from Pemiscot, Mo. and one is from Elmore, Ala. Further broken down, 934 of the workers reside in Obion County and, in second place, 384 workers are residents of Weakley County. The rest of the workers reside in counties as follows: 146 in Gibson, 72 in Dyer, 29 in Carroll, 23 in Henry, 22 in Lake, six in Madison, four in Crockett, two in Benton, two in Hardeman, two in Montgomery and one in Lauderdale. In Kentucky, 142 workers are from Graves County, 121 from Fulton, 35 from Hickman, 21 from Carlisle, 12 from Calloway, 11 from McCracken, eight from Marshall, three from Hopkins and one from Mason.
Taking into account numbers alone, hope is proving to be difficult to find.
“I agree completely with what Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire said. This will have a tremendous impact on the economy. It will affect the local sales tax, it will affect the property tax and it will even affect attendance in school. Some people may have to move and the population will go down,” Weakley County Mayor Houston Patrick admitted.
“Overall, I’m not challenging the decision (for Goodyear to leave). I’m just saying that the impact will be tremendous on our county as well as the surrounding counties. There will be a tremendous domino effect. There will be a ripple effect and many things will either be lost or will fall by the wayside. I’m deeply saddened by the economics of this.”
Weakley County Chamber of Commerce Director Barbara Virgin echoed Patrick’s sentiments as did Chamber of Commerce President Todd Hampton and, in addition, they attempted to boost morale behind the numbers in conveying a positive attitude for the future of the county and its economic horizon.
“The chamber is supporting all efforts to move in a positive direction. We’re trying very hard to be positive in a very negative situation,” Virgin commented.
“We will try our best to be proactive and investigate all our options in order to find jobs for people.
“The impact will be difficult, but we will work through this. This will not shut us down.”
“It’s important and crucial for all Weakley County citizens and business owners to keep a positive attitude,” Hampton stressed.
“Together, we can get through this. We have a lot of positives in Weakley County and it’s time to accentuate those. It’s time to step up. It’s not likely we’ll ever get another plant like Goodyear, but we can work together to make up for this, little by little. I know people will get down in the dumps about this and will let depression come in and I know that ‘if it bleeds it leads,’ but our attitudes have the power to turn everything around.”
Patrick and county mayors from Obion and Lake counties recently met with the county mayor from Hickman County in an attempt to work on an alliance for the soon-to-be-constructed I-69.
Patrick, along with the other county mayors, hopes this will be a start down the right road, no pun intended, in jumpstarting the economy for the future.
“We’ve been working on this alliance for the interstate system,” he remarked.
“We hope that it will improve matters eventually, but we realize that’s in the future and farther down the road.”