Goodyear Wants $38 Million To Help Kansas Plant

Company says it needs nearly $38 million in state incentives to commit to a $250 million upgrade of its Topeka plant; up to 700 jobs could be cut without the upgrade.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has told Kansas legislators it needs nearly $38 million in help from the state and that up to 700 jobs are at stake if the company doesn't get it.

The company says it needs to upgrade equipment at its Topeka plant or face cutting its work force. Its officials said the company will commit to a $250 million in upgrade if the state provides incentives.

Goodyear is proposing that the state issue 20-year bonds, paid back with payroll taxes collected from company employees.

The Senate Commerce Committee reviewed the proposal Tuesday but took no action. The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee had a hearing Monday.

The proposal has bipartisan support from members of Topeka's legislative delegation and the backing of local business and union groups. Goodyear's Topeka plant employs about 1,600 people.

"We're keeping jobs," said Rep. Lana Gordon, a Topeka Republican and the House committee's chairwoman.

It would be the second time in less than a decade that Goodyear has sought state incentives for its Topeka plant. In 2002, legislators approved $10 million in incentives, and the company invested an additional $124 million.

Tim Davis, the manager of the Topeka plant, said new equipment would support the production of massive off-road tires. He said Goodyear is the only American company making them.

Goodyear hopes its proposal will be added to a bill that would provide similar incentives to wind and solar equipment companies locating in Kansas.

But some backers of the bill are nervous.

James Gregory, a consultant for the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, said he worries that amending the bill will jeopardize its chances of passing, but he added, "We don't want to stand in the way of Topeka's bill."

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