Arizona Gov. Ducey welcomes Nike plant despite 'Betsy Ross flag' sneaker spat

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday welcomed Nike’s decision to move forward with a planned manufacturing plant in the city of Goodyear, despite his recent withdrawal of state financial incentives after a spat over the brand’s canceled “Betsy Ross flag” sneaker release.

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The apparel giant confirmed Thursday that renovations on the Goodyear plant for the “Nike Air” platform will begin this summer, with production set to kick off in early 2020. Nike said it expects to make direct investments of at least $184 million toward the facility, which is projected to create more than 500 new jobs.

“This is good news for Arizona and for [Goodyear],” Ducey wrote on Twitter. “500 plus jobs. Over $184 million in capital investment. Arizona is open for business, and we welcome Nike to our state.”

Ducey lauded Nike’s arrival just days after he emerged as one of the brand’s biggest critics over its decision to pull a planned release of sneakers that featured the 13-star American flag designed by Betsy Ross during the Revolutionary War. Nike reportedly opted to cancel the launch after brand endorser and former NFL star Colin Kaepernick told executives it would be offensive because the flag hailed from an era was slavery was legal in the U.S.

The cancelation came just days after Goodyear and Nike announced a finalized agreement for the manufacturing plant. Ducey ordered Arizona’s state commerce authority to withdraw roughly $1 million in incentives.

At the time, Nike said it still intended to build a new manufacturing plant, but briefly declined to specify whether it would be built in Goodyear.

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Despite the governor’s decision, the city of Goodyear announced no change to the incentive package Nike will receive for the plant. City officials agreed to waive up to $1 million in review fees and reimburse $1 million for job creation.