City, Business Leaders Pledge Financial Support for Spared Tire Plant - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

08/21/03 - Tyler

City, Business Leaders Pledge Financial Support for Spared Tire Plant

It was white-knuckle time as Tyler was on the brink of losing one of it's biggest employers. Now Kelly-Springfield is off the block.  It took commitment - both in words and dollars - to keep the Kelly Tire plant and it's 1300 workers in East Texas.

And as parent company Goodyear gets ready to strike a deal with union employees, businesses and local government say they're ready to pony up money to help the plant enter a new era.

"There are times in the history of any community that a critical issue comes along and the community has to respond to it."  Tom Mullins says the time was now.

Just weeks ago, he thought it quite possible the tire plant would be rolling away.

"Goodyear wasn't talking to us, and that was a very bad sign. They weren't returning phone calls, we were trying to make contact," he says.

The company needs large tire production.. Not the small ones made in Tyler. So Mullins, car dealer Robert Peltier and others in business made the leap.

"It's our job to make sure that that plant stays open for all of our families," Peltier says.

It was about sweetening the deal. As union leaders worked to strike a new contract involving all the plants, Peltier and others started to make their proposals for this one.

"We're going to raise money. We're going to solicit business leaders to raise money, and we're going to try to get it raised with Goodyear, the city and the county, and we're going make sure there's enough money for physical equipment," Peltier adds.

Once the union contract is ratified, Tyler's plant is guaranteed three more years of life. But these folks hope several million dollars will help Goodyear commit to the switch to large tire production for good.

"To make sure that this plant is not only open for the next few years, but for generations," Peltier says, is the point.

To bolster the plant will be expensive. But with an economic impact of nearly a billion dollars a year to the area, they say they can't afford not to.

United Steelworkers union members work at 13 Goodyear plants around the country. Now that Kelly Tyler is safe from closure, the plant in Huntsville, Alabama will be the only one shut down.

Morgan Palmer, reporting. 

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