PHOENIX — Arizona is landing a new Nike plant despite what a week ago appeared to be efforts by Gov. Doug Ducey to stop the plan.
And now he’s cheering the decision of the shoe company.
“This is good news for Arizona,” the governor said in a Twitter post Thursday afternoon, citing the more than 500 jobs and $184 million in capital investment by Nike to build part of its Air line of sneakers in Goodyear. “We welcome @Nike to our state.”
But an aide to the governor said he has not backed down from his decision to rescind an offer by the Arizona Commerce Authority to provide a $1 million incentive to land the plant after Nike decided not to distribute a new line of shoes with a picture of the Betsy Ross flag, the one with 13 stars in a circle.
The Wall Street Journal reported that former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernik, who has been featured in Nike ads, told the company the flag is a reminder to the black community of the slavery that was occurring at the same time in the 18th century. Nike said at the time it halted distribution “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.”
But Ducey, in a series of nine tweets at 2 a.m. July 2, said the company “has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”
“It is a shameful retreat for the company,” the governor continued, saying American businesses should be proud of the country’s history, not abandoning it. And that, he said, made Nike unworthy of the state incentive.
“We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history,” Ducey wrote.
After Ducey’s tweet storm and rescission of the grant, Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord reassured Nike that her city would still honor the commitments it made for about $1 million in incentives and a similar amount in fee waivers.
Nike said Thursday that it will begin renovating an existing building later this summer, with production of Nike Air soles expected to start in early 2020.
In a prepared statement Eric Sprunk, Nike’s chief operating officer, thanked both the state and the city “for their partnership,” making no mention of the lost $1 million state grant.