The Goodyear City Council welcomed Nike to town July 1 after unanimously approving their job creation agreement worth $483.4 million in total economic impact over five years.
With Gov. Doug Ducey, it was a bit different. He slammed the athletic shoe company on Twitter after it recalled its Air Max 1 USA sneakers on brand ambassador/former NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s suggestion.
Ducey said recalling the Betsy Ross American flag-themed shoes was a “terrible decision.”
In an early morning Twitter rant, Ducey said, “Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s Independence Day, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”
Ducey also Tweeted he ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority—an organization with a mission to grow and strengthen Arizona’s economy—to repeal “financial incentive dollars under their discretion the state was providing for the company to locate here.”
House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma, told West Valley View on July 3 Nike never sought those financial incentive dollars, which come in the form of a $1 million grant.
“I believe that the money that Gov. Ducey has rescinded, Nike had never even applied for. It was a grant of $1 million, and as far as we know, Nike hasn’t even applied for it,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez, whose district will host Nike’s new facility, called Ducey’s Tweets upsetting.
“I’m very dismayed that the governor sent out that Tweet,” Fernandez said. “I’m expecting that this is a business that will bring good jobs, over 500, and that was only phase one. From the understanding, is that they may come in with a phase two that will bring in even more jobs,” she said.
“Gov. Ducey has said it himself, ‘We’re open for business.’ He’s talked about loosening regulations so more people will want to come to Arizona and work here and bring their businesses and their families and add to the workforce.”
Those on the other side of the issue, though, said they agree with Ducey.
Eric Sloan, a Republican candidate for Arizona Corporate Commission, showed his support for the governor through a July 2 statement.
“I am proud to support the governor and his strong decision, especially regarding the recent news about Nike’s decision to pull the Betsy Ross flag off its (shelves), because irrelevant Colin Kaepernick said it was offensive,” Sloan said.
“As an honorary commander at Luke Air Force Base, I’m happy the governor isn’t giving a platform to companies that are embarrassed and retreat from our great country and its flourishing heritage.”
Emery McClendon, a member of Project 21 Black Leadership Network, told West Valley View he also stands with Ducey.
“I agree with (Ducey) in that there has to be some integrity, and people must stand their ground on what they believe in. These large companies that make these idiotic moves to do things because of one person or because of a small minority in the public...that affects millions of other people in a negative way need to be either reprimanded, or in this case, denied contracts or denied tax abatements or whatever they will be receiving from the municipality,” McClendon said.
Amid the controversy, on July 2 Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord announced Goodyear would continue to move forward with its Nike agreement, which will total more than $483.4 million in total economic impact over the next five years.
“The city of Goodyear has found itself in the middle of a difficult situation,” Lord said in a statement.
“We will honor the commitment we made in our agreement. It has been a focus of the Goodyear City Council to build a strong economy for years to come and we will continue to work hard to bring the kind of high-quality jobs that our residents deserve.”
West Valley View has reached out to Nike for comment, but the company, as of press time, had not responded.