Fincher meetings focus on Goodyear
Posted: Friday, February 25, 2011 9:14 pm
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Congressman Stephen Fincher was in Union City Thursday and met with local Goodyear officials at the plant.
U.S. Rep. Fincher also attended a private meeting with local community leaders Thursday afternoon.
He said his Goodyear visit was not a tour of the plant, but was a 90-minute meeting with local plant officials to discuss the Goodyear closure.
The local visit was added to the agenda of the congressman’s two-day tour of his district.
Fincher visited Jackson, Ripley and Alamo on Wednesday and McKenzie on Thursday morning as part of his agriculture listening tour. He is gathering information from farmers on the upcoming farm bill.
Fincher said his visit to Union City represented his 12th stop in his series of listening sessions across the Eighth Congressional District since being elected to office.
He described his stop at the local Goodyear plant as “a good visit” and said he had “a very, very good meeting” with plant officials.
“I’m just trying to make sure I stay in front of all the issues and circumstances going on here,” Fincher told The Messenger after his Goodyear plant visit. He said he is working closely with Gov. Bill Haslam, and praised the governor’s administration for working closely with him.
Fincher said Obion County and the Goodyear news are “a high priority on our agenda.”
He added that he is a seventh generation resident of West Tennessee and the Goodyear announcement represents a major blow to his Eighth Congressional District and to the entire state.
“It’s just a bad situation,” Fincher told The Messenger Thursday. “We want to do all that we can do to make the transition as smooth as possible. There’s just no good way to move forward.”
Fincher said after meeting with the Goodyear officials, and based on other conversations he’s had with corporate officials the plant shutdown is “expected.”
It was at a brief news conference on Feb. 10 that Goodyear officially announced it would be shutting down the Union City plant by the end of this year. Fincher said he saw the Feb. 10 announcement as the end of a process that had been in the works for many months.
“I want the people up here to realize how important this is to me,” Fincher said.
He said he was “focused” on the issue.
After Fincher met with the local Goodyear plant management, he met privately with local community leaders. He said that meeting was productive as he provided an update on such projects as I-69, Cates Landing and the Haywood County megasite. The meeting also provided him with valuable input from community leaders on the impact of the Goodyear plant closure.
Fincher said he is committed to job growth in the region and will be “very aggressive” promoting economic development across the region.
“We’re going to be aggressive with recruiting,” Fincher said. “It’s very important.”
On the state level, Haslam and state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced Thursday that Obion County has been designated a Tier 3 Enhancement County. The upgraded designation actually went into effect Feb. 15 and will make Obion County eligible to offer expanded Job Tax Credits to spur job creation.
“This is a challenging time for the people of northwest Tennessee,” said Haslam. “I am committed to working with local and federal officials to do our best to mitigate the impact of these job losses. Raising Obion County to Tier 3 distressed community status is just one step in our effort to help this community’s economy to recover.”
“A Tier 3 designation won’t change things overnight for a community facing significant job losses,” said Hagerty. “It will, however, give state and local economic developers some additional tools to go out and recruit new investment to create jobs and help the local economy rebuild.”
“I’m convinced through my discussions with Governor Haslam, Commissioner Hagerty and community leaders that we’re committed to working together to find a way to offset these job losses,” said Fincher. “Giving the community a broader array of incentives is vital as we recruit new industry to the region.”
“Through our partnership with ECD, the tier 3 designation will expand the Job Tax Credit for Obion County, making it a more attractive community for industry,” said state Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts. “It’s a first step in the process of recruiting new capital investment and helping unemployed Tennesseans find new jobs.”
The three-level tiered Job Tax Credit system was developed to encourage new industry to invest or expand in primarily rural communities challenged by high unemployment.
To receive the maximum Tier 3 Enhanced Job Tax Credit of $4,500 per new full-time position created, companies must make a minimum capital investment of $500,000 in a 12-month period and create a minimum of 25 new full-time jobs. A Tier 3 Enhanced Job Tax Credit designation allows a company to receive an annual jobs tax credit for five years as compared to three years for a Tier 2 designation and one year for a Tier 1 designation. Tier 3 status also allows a company to offset up to 100 percent of its Franchise and Excise tax liability with the annual credit during this five-year period.
State officials have begun identifying Tennessee companies within the Goodyear supply chain which may be impacted by the announcement and developing processes to assist laid off Goodyear workers in expediting their unemployment insurance claims.
Hagerty has asked his staff to review the residency of idled Goodyear workers to determine if additional northwest Tennessee counties might also benefit from Tier 3 status.
State Rep. Bill Sanderson has also been busy dealing with the Goodyear issue.
He is expected to meet next week with Haslam and other state officials.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.25.11