TOPEKA, Kan.—Goodyear is considering making “strategic investments” in its Topeka truck and earthmover tire factory valued at $250 million or more by the Topeka Joint Economic Development Organization.
Goodyear's potential capital investment came to light this week after the publication of the agenda for the Topeka JEDO's scheduled Sept. 14 meeting, which included discussion of an incentive agreement offering up to $368,000 in investment incentives for an unnamed company in return for agreeing to invest a minimum of $250 million in its Topeka facility.
Responding to questions from the Topeka Capital-Journal about the proposed economic incentives, Goodyear said it is “committed to making strategic investments in its tire plants to continuously improve operations and efficiency.
“We are currently in discussions with Kansas state and local officials regarding potential future capital investment at our Topeka plant. Until a final agreement is reached, we cannot comment further,” according to the statement issued by Barbara Hatala, Goodyear's North American functional communications manager.
The JEDO agreement goes on to mention that the company—referred to in the proposal as “Project Mare”—is “contemplating potential additional capital investments” of up to $184 million.
The agreement calls for Topeka, via its Growth Organization of Topeka/Shawnee County Inc., to offer an additional $2,000 in incentives per $1 million in investment above and beyond the initial $250 million up to $184 million, which would equate to another $368,000 in incentives.
To garner the additional incentives, the company would have to complete the second phase investments by year-end 2022, the proposal states.
The Topeka/Shawnee JEDO was established in 2001 by Shawnee County and the City of Topeka to foster economic development in the region. It is funded through the half-cent countywide retailers' sales tax established by the inter-local agreement.
The disclosure of this potential investment at Topeka comes shortly after the Commerce Department announced its decision to impose antidumping and countervailing duties on truck and bus tires imported from China. Topeka is one of only two Goodyear plants in North America with truck tire capacity; the other is in Danville, Va.
Goodyear's plant in Topeka opened in 1944 and today produces light and medium truck and earthmover tires. Capacity is listed at 15,000 units per day with 1,600 employees. The work force is represented by the United Steelworkers union, Local 307L.
Goodyear last expanded the Topeka plant in 2010, when it disclosed plans to add capacity there for 63-inch earthmover radials.