Goodyear’s closure set process in motion

Goodyear’s closure set process in motion
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
The announcement on Feb. 10 that Goodyear would be closing down its Union City tire plant put into motion a series of events leading up to today’s announcement that the local tire plant has been bought by Titan Tire.
The timeline of events during the past eight months has thrown the spotlight on the local Goodyear plant, its employees and the community’s response to the plant closure.
It was on Feb. 10 at Union City’s Hampton Centré that then plant communications director Clint Smith formally announced the local tire plant would be shut down by the end of the year.
Two weeks later, Congressman Stephen Fincher visited Union City to meet with local officials and on March 1 a prayer rally was held at Union City’s First Baptist Church.
Throughout the month of March, there were several announcements made in connection to the local Goodyear plant closing. It was announced in early March that former state Rep. Phillip Pinion would work as a consultant for the Joint Economic Development Corp., a new grass roots effort was launched by local entrepreneur Tim Brady, Gov. Bill Haslam was briefed on the local Goodyear situation and on Cates Landing and the Tennessee Valley Authority announced plans to join forces with local economic development officials to help market the area.
Goodyear’s plant closure prompted visits by several state commissioners as well as Haslam, who held a formal news conference at the Obion County Public Library in mid-March.
It was the Cates Landing project in Lake County that emerged as one of the most promising projects to help offset the Goodyear plant closure. In mid-March, the Mississippi River port was officially approved for $7 million in state funding and an additional $13 million in federal funding. The $20 million in state and federal funding shifted the Cates Landing project into the stage of actually being built north of Tiptonville.
Goodyear’s announcement placed a new level of importance on the issue of economic development for Obion County and the entire northwest Tennessee region. There were several expos held at the John Tanner National Guard Armory and a career fair was held at the University of Tennessee at Martin to help displaced Goodyear workers. It was announced in early May that a group of local Goodyear associates were transferring to Goodyear plants in Fayetteville, N.C., and Gadsden , Ala.
In the months following the Goodyear announcement, The Messenger continued to report on the ongoing progress of I-69 and the local Discovery Park project.
Then the July 11 edition of The Messenger hit newsstands with a simple two word headline across the top of Page 1 — “Shut down.”
What had, until that point, been just talked about became a reality.
Goodyear shut down the Union City tire plant.
After 42 years of driving the local economy, the company’s doors were closed and the machines were shut down at the local tire plant.
Obion County native and songwriter Phillip Coleman collaborated with country singer Ronnie Dunn on the song and video, “Cost of Livin,” which used the local Goodyear plant as a metaphor for how America’s working man was affected by tough economic times.
It was in late August that The Messenger published a photo of the familiar Goodyear sign being taken down from the front of the local tire plant.
On Sept. 11, two months after Goodyear shut down the Union City plant, the employees at the facility became officially unemployed. Less than two weeks later, the state Department of Employment Security released its monthly jobless report showing Obion County had the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 17.2 percent.
In the months that have followed the Goodyear plant closure, local, regional and state officials have remained optimistic that Obion County would rebound from the loss of its largest employer.
Now, with today’s announcement by Titan Tire, there is a renewed sense of optimism that has arrived in Obion County.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 11.11.11

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