Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is welcoming Nike’s announcement to move forward with an investment in a Phoenix-metro area manufacturing plant after blocking funding for the project when the athletic giant pulled a flag-themed shoe from the market.
“This is good news for Arizona and for @GoodyearAZGov,” Ducey tweeted on Thursday. “500 plus jobs. Over $184 million in capital investment. Arizona is open for business, and we welcome @Nike to our state”:
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 11, 2019
Nike faced criticism last week for its decision not to sell the Nike Air Max 1 USA shoe, which included an emblem known as the Betsy Ross flag.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has a high-profile endorsement deal with Nike, told the company that the flag recalls an era when black people were enslaved and that it has been appropriated by white nationalist groups.
“Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike,” Ducey said when the Wall Street Journal broke the news of the anthem kneeler’s role in killing off the shoes. “We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.”
The Arizona Republican said he was “embarrassed for Nike,” called its decision “a shameful retreat,” and ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw a grant of up to $1 million.
Despite his initial opposition, Nike was still promised more than $2 million in tax breaks from the city of Goodyear, where the company said it will begin work on the facility later this year and begin making soles in 2020.
The shoemaker did not address the controversy in announcing its plans for a $184 million factory with at least 500 jobs in Goodyear.
“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 US manufacturing footprint. We want to thank the State and City of Goodyear for their partnership as we continue to accelerate our growth,” Nike COO Eric Sprunk said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.