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Goodyear Pushes For New Economic Incentives In N.C.

Tire maker wants incentives as Singapore-based rubber shipper, PACC Lines, threatens to pull out of North Carolina port and ship through New Orleans.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and a shipping company that delivers rubber to North Carolina are pushing the state to provide new economic incentives as both companies seek to lower costs, officials say.
Goodyear recently won an incentives package worth up to $40 million to keep its operations in Fayetteville, N.C. The tire manufacturer has been the driving force behind PACC Lines' request for a 30 percent reduction in port fees, state officials said.
Singapore-based PACC Lines ships rubber from Asia to Morehead City, N.C., and threatened to leave the port to ship all its rubber through New Orleans.
Tom Eagar, chief executive of the N.C. State Ports Authority, called the request ''rather exorbitant.'' But the state earns about $3.1 million in annual revenue from rubber imports and Morehead City longshoremen spend about 20,000 hours a year handling vessels that bring the product.
So Eagar is ramping up efforts to please Goodyear without conceding too much. He said the State Ports administration can't cut fees by 30 percent but that the state would consider a contract guaranteeing no fee increases for several years.
''We're going to do what we need to do,'' Eagar said. ''Our interest is in keeping Goodyear in Morehead City.''
State lawmakers pushed through an incentives package for Goodyear earlier this year, and after discussions with Gov. Mike Easley, settled on a package that would split $60 million between Goodyear and rival Bridgestone. Neither company can get more than $40 million.
But lawmakers didn't approve any money to lower costs at the ports. Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, of Fayetteville, wrote to Goodyear in a July 28 letter that, ''I hope you will also give consideration to keeping your imports moving across Morehead City docks.''
Goodyear spokeswoman Amy Brei said the company isn't a part of the negotiations.
''Discussions are between the port and the carrier,'' she said. But she added that Goodyear will assist in ''whatever way will be helpful'' to bring the matter to resolution.