Taylor: City needs Titan plant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 1999

Titan Tire CEO Morry Taylor says his company won’t be leaving Natchez, but he also won’t be installing $10 million worth of equipment for expansion.

&uot;Why should I&160;leave? (The city officials) don’t want new investment,&uot; Taylor said Tuesday, after the board of aldermen, on a 3-2 vote, rescinded Titan’s tax exemption for the new equipment.

&uot;I can appreciate the concerns that the good aldermen have,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;But it’s so ridiculous that (Natchez) has higher unemployment than the national average, and the aldermen do something like this. The public had best take a look at these aldermen and get some different ones.&uot;

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The board voted to rescind the tax exemption after members of United Steelworkers of America Local 303L protested the exemption at Tuesday’s meeting.

Local 303L has been on strike from the plant since September 1998.

Alderman David Massey of Ward 5, who voted against rescinding the tax exemption, said it was the first time he could remember that the city did not grant an exemption for a company.

&uot;This is the first time in the history of the city that we’ve voted not to help industry,&uot; Massey said.

Before Tuesday’s vote, he told union members, &uot;I don’t see how I can vote for a tax exemption if it would keep you from going to work.&uot;

Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said the board’s action sends a message not only to Titan but also to other industries in Natchez or that are looking to locate in Natchez &uot;that we’re not willing to do what every other city in this country is willing to do.&uot;

&uot;I hope CASA and any other industrial prospects don’t hear about it,&uot; he said, referring to the Spanish aircraft company Brown has been trying to lure to the city.

Brown asked Local 303L members to acknowledge that the city &uot;once again went out of its way&uot; to help the union.

Local 303L President Leo &uot;T-Bone&uot; Bradley said the board’s action should not influence Titan to leave Natchez.

&uot;If (Taylor) was going to pull out he would have done it by now,&uot; Bradley said.

And Taylor said that while the plant is about to start training prospective workers, the city needs to try to hold on to Titan.

&uot;We’re giving physicals to 45 more (prospective plant workers) and are going to start more training classes soon,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;This is a tourist town, but it has people who live there year-round, and they’ve got to have good-paying jobs.

&uot;You’ve got to hang on to this (plant).&uot;