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Arizona city will still pay Nike millions to help open plant there

Nike defends pulling Betsy Ross flag shoes

In a rebuke to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, the mayor of Goodyear is sticking with Nike in a deal to bring more than 500 jobs to her city. 

The Republican governor on Tuesday said he'd yank state financial incentives for a $185 million Nike Air factory in Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix, in responding to news that Nike had decided to pull Betsy Ross American flag-themed sneakers, reportedly due to the objections of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

Calling the brouhaha "a difficult situation," Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord, also a Republican, said in a video posted on the city's Facebook page that she could "appreciate the emotion and discussion I've heard on this important topic." 

Noting that the city council had "unanimously approved a job-creation agreement with Nike" on Monday night, the mayor said Goodyear would not back away from its financial deal due to the controversy. "This deal is expected to bring more than 500 jobs and significant investment to our city. We will honor the commitment we made in our agreement."

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Nike, via Sneaker News

Ducey had said he'd ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to rescind a potential grant of up to $1 million from the Arizona Competes Fund. 

"The Arizona Commerce Authority was active in the deal to attract Nike to Arizona. We offered a performance-based grant of up to $1 million," a spokesperson for the authority emailed CBS MoneyWatch. "The offer was accepted, contingent upon final negotiations and a formal agreement. At the governor's direction, that offer has been withdrawn. Unlike other programs in statute that are eligible to any and all companies, including Nike -- this grant program is purely discretionary."

The authority, however, does not control incentives offered by the city of Goodyear, which had said it would waive nearly $1 million in permit and plan-review fees and give Nike another $1 million for job creation. 

Nike has indicated it, too, would stick to its guns in regards to its deal with Goodyear.

"We already employ 35,000 people in the U.S. and remain committed to creating jobs in the U.S., including a significant investment in an additional manufacturing center which will create 500 new jobs," the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

The company did not immediately answer a request that it clarify that its statement was specific to Goodyear. 

That said, if the pact with the Arizona city unravels, Nike seemingly has other options. 

"Let's talk," New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lugan Grisham tweeted at the company, with a spokesperson for the Democratic governor telling the Washington Post that Grisham's office had reached out to Nike to inquire if New Mexico might be a "potential fit" for the company.

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