Goodyear Expands Lawton Plant, Garnering $36.7 Million in Incentives

In a momentous ceremony held at the Capitol, Goodyear Tire and Rubber officials were finally awarded the long-awaited $36.7 million incentives for the expansion of their Lawton plant. Secretary of Commerce Kathy Taylor handed over a ceremonial check to Phil Brown, the plant manager, marking the fulfillment of a promise that had been delayed for over two years.

Goodyear’s tire plant in Lawton is already an impressive facility, and this expansion is set to make it even more substantial. With nearly $200 million invested in the expansion, the plant has added approximately 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space. This development solidifies the plant’s position as the largest tire manufacturing plant in the world. Spanning a sprawling 500-acre main site, with an additional 500 acres of surrounding property, the plant now covers an expansive 2.5 million square feet.

The road to this momentous occasion was not without hurdles. The funds were temporarily withheld due to a constitutional court challenge. However, in a landmark ruling earlier this year, the state Supreme Court upheld the Industrial Development Taxable Bonds, which provided the funding for Goodyear’s ambitious expansion.

Lawton’s plant employs around 2,400 individuals who work in teams to produce over 60,000 passenger and light truck tires daily. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the plant has a remarkable economic impact, estimated at over $700 million annually.

The presentation of the ceremonial check was met with great joy and gratitude. Dressed in matching blue polo shirts that proudly displayed “Goodyear-Lawton,” Phil Brown and his fellow employees expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the Oklahoma Legislature for their pivotal role in kickstarting this expansion. The Goodyear Bill, unanimously passed in the House and with a resounding 39-1 vote in the Senate, not only facilitated Goodyear’s expansion but also provided $26.5 million for a $200 million expansion of the Michelin North America tire-making plant in Ardmore.

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Arty Straehla, Goodyear’s director of consumer tire manufacturing for the company’s North American tire division, experienced a special sense of homecoming during the ceremony. A native of Lawton and a former manager of the Oklahoma plant, Straehla was among the distinguished Akron-based executives who attended the event. Reflecting on the journey that led to this moment, Straehla described how it all started with an executive visit and a crucial question about the factory’s long-term outlook. This inquiry prompted a reevaluation of the market and the need to adapt the Lawton plant to produce larger, more valuable tires.

The decision to invest in expansion was not made lightly. It required a collaborative effort between Goodyear and local and state authorities to secure the necessary incentives. Comanche County voters played their part by passing a quarter-cent sales tax that raised an impressive $4.86 million. Additionally, Southwest Oklahoma legislators championed the “Goodyear Bill,” which ultimately led to the presentation of the check at the ceremony.

Straehla expressed his pride in the state of Oklahoma and emphasized the wide-ranging benefits of this expansion. Not only does it create high-paying manufacturing jobs, but it also counters the trend of such positions leaving the country. The tire plant expansion signifies a significant victory for the state’s economic development.

In conclusion, Goodyear’s Lawton plant expansion marks a milestone achievement that will undoubtedly fortify the company’s position as a leader in the tire manufacturing industry. The ceremony served as a testament to the hard work and dedication of all those involved who have long awaited this moment. With a thriving plant, a strengthened economy, and a prosperous future ahead, this expansion showcases the immense potential that lies within the heart of Oklahoma’s manufacturing prowess.

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