It was a little more than four months ago when Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. announced its plans to close the Union City tire manufacturing facility, which displaced nearly 2,000 people from across Northwest Tennessee and West Kentucky.
Keeping true to its word, the company did close the doors at the plant in July. One month later, unemployment rates brought Weakley and Obion counties to the forefront of the state’s highest jobless rates.
It was exactly four months to the day the Union City plant shut its doors when Titan Tire Corporation confirmed to The Union City Daily Messenger it had acquired the manufacturing facility.
While news of the sale of the Union City plant spread quickly Thursday evening into Friday, details of the acquisition will apparently have to wait as corporate officials with Goodyear have kept a tight lip and Titan Tire Corporation officials have kept information to a minimum.
“I’m glad that they are coming in and it’s good news there will be anybody who will be employed by the company. Any progress is better than none,” Weakley County Chamber of Commerce executive director Barbara Virgin said.
The chamber director added she was hesitant to speak prematurely as county officials wait for specifics regarding how many people the company will employ and when those people will be able to begin work at Titan Tire.
“I just hope the company will employ former Goodyear employees from this region,” Virgin said.
Weakley County mayor Houston Patrick announced the news of the sale of the Goodyear plant came as an early Christmas present for Northwest Tennessee.
“I am so very happy about the news. Just when we were down in the ballast about losing all of those jobs. Like Obion County mayor Benny McGuire said, ‘Any jobs are more than what we had.’ This will hopefully bring energy and lifeblood into the economy,” Patrick said.
He added he was happy to see anything that “positively enhances the people of Northwest Tennessee.”
McGuire told The Messenger Friday he learned of the sale Thursday evening. As of midnight Thursday, McGuire said the plant changed hands and was owned by Titan Tire.
State Sen. Roy Herron announced he will continue to advocate “jobs, jobs, jobs” as his top three priorities.
Herron said he is waiting to hear how many people the company will put to work at the Union City plant.
According to Local 878 United Steelworkers representative Ricky Waggoner, the announcement of the sale does not change any contract terms between Goodyear and its former employees.
Waggoner said the few members remaining at the local union hall will be there for another 20 months unless Titan Tire opts to use the services of Local 878.
Thursday’s news reports of the sale of the Union City plant came on the heels of a federal announcement of a National Emergency Grant totaling nearly $3.5 million, which would be used toward skills training and re-employment services for displaced workers from Goodyear-Union City.
Spouses of displaced Goodyear workers are also eligible for the services provided under the National Emergency Grant.
Titan Tire Corporation is a subsidiary of Titan International Inc., one of the country’s largest manufacturers of off-road tires.
Titan Tire entered the tire market in 1993.
In April 2011, Titan Tire announced it had acquired Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s Latin American farm tire business for approximately $98.6 million.
The transaction included Goodyear’s Sao Paulo, Brazil manufacturing plant, property, equipment, inventories and a licensing agreement that allowed Titan to sell Goodyear-brand farm tires in Latin America and North America, according to the news release.
At the same time, a deal was in the works for Titan Tire to purchase Goodyear’s European farm tire business, according to a press release. The licensing agreement would also allow Titan Tire to manufacture and sell Goodyear-brand farm tires in Europe, Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia.