Will efforts to keep Cooper in Albany work? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will efforts to keep Cooper in Albany work?

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

December 15, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It's now a waiting game for Dougherty County officials who are anxiously anticipating an announcement from Cooper Tire headquarters about which of the four US plants will close.

Local and state leaders, as well as Albany plant executives have been tweaking an incentive proposal to try to keep Cooper open in Southwest Georgia. In the meantime, unions at two other Cooper plants have reached agreements that will save money at those plants. So will the efforts made to save the Albany plant work?

With word of two new union agreements and a $30 Million incentive package offered by Mississippi officials, Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard says he became even more vigilant in his efforts to keep Cooper Tire in Albany.

He said, "I don't know that the word is fear. Are we concerned? Absolutely. Incredibly concerned." While Sinyard and other officials involved in negotiations have been tight-lipped about what their package to Cooper Headquarters includes, he feels confident in the contents. "We are told it's competitive."

An "I Love Cooper" campaign has highlighted the desire for the company to remain in Albany, but Commissioner Jack Stone says it's a campaign that should be carried out for all businesses, all the time.  He said, "It brings back the attention of where we're at. We don't need to wait until a company decides to close up and then start putting blue ribbons on the door. We need to start ahead of time."

In hopes of keeping those companies here, and happy. "In a perfect economy, losing an employer is devastating. In a difficult and trying economy, like we have, it is beyond my comprehension." And he hopes he won't have to.