Nike to build facility in Goodyear after public outcry over shoe pullback

Media photo courtesy of Nike

Nike announced Thursday that it is making a significant manufacturing investment in its U.S. innovation footprint by opening a new Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation facility in Goodyear.

The expansion is expected to create more than 500 full-time jobs and result in an investment of at least $184 million, a release states.

Building renovations will begin later this summer, and production of Nike Air soles is expected to start in early 2020. When complete, the new Air MI facility will help meet growing demand for Nike’s most distinctive innovations, according to the release.

“The expansion of Air MI in Arizona helps us keep pace with the growing demand for Nike Air and also greatly increases the size of our U.S. manufacturing footprint,” stated Eric Sprunk, Nike’s Chief Operating Officer. “We want to thank the State and City of Goodyear for their partnership as we continue to accelerate our growth.”

The Arizona facility will be Nike’s third manufacturing center location dedicated to Nike Air, joining existing facilities in Oregon and Missouri. Those two have recently undergone their own expansions. The Goodyear location will bring together experts in design, engineering, and product creation to deliver the next era of Nike Air.

The Goodyear facility also signals Nike’s continuing investment in scaling sustainable innovation, according to the release. Currently, every Nike Air sole innovation since 2008 contains at least 50% recycled manufacturing waste, contributing to more than 57 million pounds of manufacturing waste being diverted from landfills from May 2018 to May 2019.

Hiring for the new facility will begin immediately.

Nike came under fire around the Fourth of July, when it decided to pull its Betsy Ross flag-themed shoe after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who has been featured in Nike ads — complained to the company that the flag is a reminder to the black community of the slavery that occurred in the 18th century.

The company, in a statement, said it decided to halt distribution “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey released a series of tweets in wake of the pullback, encouraging the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw a $1 million incentive to Nike.

However, Mr. Ducey was spotted in a pair of Nikes in Coconino County July 4, and has said he has not discouraged Nike from building in Arizona.

“The governor didn’t call for a boycott,” Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak said last week. “He didn’t even say the company wasn’t welcome to do business in Arizona.”

Mr. Ptak also said the story “was about our flag and our founding” and not about the company — or the governor’s decision to keep wearing his Nikes.

After Nike released its statement on its plans to build in Goodyear, Mr. Ducey welcomed the company to Arizona.

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord released a video statement regarding her City Council’s decision to bring Nike to Arizona, as well as standing by that decision even after the pullback of the Betsy Ross shoes.

That includes Goodyear intending to honor its commitment to provide about $1 million in incentives and a like amount in fee waivers.

Editor’s Note: Information from the city of Goodyear, Capitol Media Services, and Nike.

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