Ducey welcomes Nike after blasting company over shoe controversy




    Nike Air Max 1 "Fourth of July" shoe. Image via Nike

    Just one week after lambasting Nike and withdrawing an offer of up to $1 million in incentives over its controversial decision to pull its Betsy Ross flag shoes from the market, Gov. Doug Ducey praised the athletic apparel giant for following through with its plans to open a new facility in Goodyear. 

    Nike announced on Thursday that it will open a manufacturing facility for its Nike Air shoes. The Air Manufacturing Innovation facility is expected to employ more than 500 people, and the company said it will invest at least $184 million in the project.

    Ducey welcomed the company with open arms on Twitter.

    “This is good news for Arizona and for @GoodyearAZGov. 500 plus jobs. Over $184 million in capital investment. Arizona is open for business, and we welcome @Nike to our state,” Ducey said on Twitter.

    Nike made its decision despite the state’s decision to stand by its refusal to provide up to $1 million in deal-closing money. 

    “The discretionary $1M Arizona Competes Fund grant offer was withdrawn and has not been reinstated, nor will it be,” Arizona Commerce Authority spokeswoman Susan Marie told the Arizona Mirror.

    The governor’s comments were in stark contrast with a tirade he launched against Nike a week earlier.

    Nike had released a line of sneakers emblazoned with an early United States flag dating to the 1770s, which features a circle of 13 stars on a blue field to represent the original 13 colonies. The flag is attributed to Betsy Ross, who is often credited with creating the first U.S. flag in history.

    But the company pulled the Betsy Ross shoes from shelves at the request of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who became famous for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans. Kaepernick said the flag represented an era of slavery in the U.S., and some objected to the flag because it had been adopted as a symbol by the American Nazi Party. 

    The flag is also depicted on the seal of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and was displayed prominently at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. 

    Nike’s decision was met with fierce criticism, including from Ducey. In a series of tweets posted at 2 a.m. on July 2, the governor blasted the company for a “shameful retreat” and for bowing to “the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.” In response to Nike’s decision, Ducey said he ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw its offer of up to $1 million in deal-closing money from its Arizona Competes Fund.

    “Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history,” Ducey tweeted.

    Nike was gracious toward both Goodyear and the state, despite Ducey’s denunciation of the company. In a press release from Nike, Chief Operating Officer Eric Sprunk said, “We want to thank the State and City of Goodyear for their partnership as we continue to accelerate our growth.”

    The City of Goodyear, which did not withdraw its own incentive offers after the shoe flap erupted, also welcomed Nike’s decision.

    “We are excited to partner with them to bring high-quality jobs, breakthrough technology, and advanced manufacturing to our community,” the city said in a press statement.

     

    Jeremy Duda
    Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”

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