Lt. Governor stops in Albany - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lt. Governor stops in Albany

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

December 4, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Lt. Governor Casey Cagle says Georgia is making every effort to keep Cooper Tire happy, successful, and open in Albany. He says local and state leaders have been in constant contact with Cooper officials providing them with needed information. And while at least one of the plants competing with Albany's has released details of its $30 Million incentive package to Cooper, Albany leaders refuse to talk specifics about what's being done to keep our plant open.

In October, Cooper announced it was launching a capacity study on all four US plants, including the one here in Albany. The company plans to close one of them, and local and state officials are trying to make sure it's not the one here, but they won't say how.

In a meeting with local leaders, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle was briefed on economic development successes and struggles in Albany/Dougherty County. One of the biggest items on the list, Cooper Tire. "We all know the importance of keeping Cooper here in Albany and we're going to fight to make sure that happens."

But so are other states. Mississippi officials propose giving Cooper $30 Million in incentives to keep the Tupelo plant in production. The governor of Arkansas says that states offer isn't as substantial. But when we asked Lt. Governor Casey Cagle where Georgia stood in the running, he wouldn't tell us.

"Where is Georgia in that game?" "Good try," he replied.

But he was optimistic that Georgia was at least still in the game. "We feel like with constant communication with Cooper that we're going to be able to facilitate a deal. We remain very optimistic and encouraged with the communication."

And EDC Chairman Bobby McKinney says the focus of his communications with Cooper will center around what Georgia can provide, not what other states are offering. "We're concerned about what we can do, not what they're doing and that's where we're going to stay."

A tentative pay and benefit agreement between union members and Cooper Tire's Findlay Ohio plant won't exclude that plant from possibly closing. Those workers will only receive that benefit if the plant remains open. Cooper will announce which plant it's closing next month.

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