Exclusive Look At Plans To Save Economy Without A Goodyear - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/2/06-Tyler

Exclusive Look At Plans To Save Economy Without A Goodyear

TEDC's President Tom Mullins starts his morning on a conference call.

One of his VP's relays a message that may shed a glimmer of light on the task at hand.

"He said of the 47 states he works with in economic development there's none better than ours," says VP of Finance Phyllis Schneider to Tom.

"Tell him to put it in an email!," he replies laughingly.

One of the first questions we wanted to know: Where do you begin to find the company that can make up for the loss to come if Goodyear leaves?

He says it starts with finding what's called a "primary" employer; one who sells and distributes products that get sold outside of this region.

"That money comes back into the area. It gets spent on payroll, it gets spent on purchase of goods and services, it gets spent on medical services, people go to the stores and shop, people put their kids into the schools," Tom says.

It's just what Goodyear has helped do the last 44 years. In fact we learned the plant's economic success is the reason a California-based company decided months ago to build an 80,000 square foot upscale office facility, directly across the street from the plant.

"They're still going to go ahead with this but they're really worried now that they'll have this huge white elephant sitting across the road from them," says Tom.

But this economic development veteran shed some light on what especially makes this plant's infrastructure so enticing.  There are railroad tracks that lead directly to the back of the building.

Tom explains, "With energy prices going up, more and more manufacturers that are looking are looking for rail. It's a fraction of the cost to ship things in and out by rail.  We had a prospect in last month, Tyler is one of eight cities in Texas that had been looked at and we're the only one that is still on the list."

"Can you tell us who it is?," asks KLTV 7 Reporter Christine Nelson.

Tom replies, "We don't even know. They were represented by an engineering consulting group out of Chicago. All they would tell us is that it's a major Fortune 500 company."

Two other national brokers have also called inquiring about this potential space. But it also takes expanding existing business to create more jobs.

Tom shows us what he has in store for another top Tyler employer, Suddenlink.

"You see right now they're in about a half dozen locations in and around Tyler and they're spread out. So what they'd like to do is create this kind of campus environment," Tom says pointing to the vacant land behind Suddenlink's building.

Later that day Tom shared his ideas at a Suddenlink ribbon- cutting, with CEO Jerry Kent.

During their conversation Jerry says, "We have a lot of real estate [in Tyler] and we're going to need that land eventually because we're going to have to build something on it. That would be my guess."

Tom says to Jerry,"Some more people are looking at it. But you're the priority because you're bringing in those primary jobs in town and if we can create a campus environment for you out there we'd like to work on that."

At a response task force meeting for Goodyear employees, Tom shares what could be good news down the road.

"I just came from another event and we had some positive potential. Suddenlink is going to be investing in this community and may be adding other jobs," says Tom to the group.

Even as this day comes to an end, the TEDC's work never stops.

"I tell people all the time, you're never done doing economic development because the economy is like the life cycle... businesses are born, then they mature and then they die," says Tom.

It just means if Goodyear closes its doors, another window of opportunity is bound to open. 

Tom also told us within the last year they helped grow eight businesses, and over the next two years it will create 640 jobs in the area.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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