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Nike Presses Forward With New Arizona Factory Despite ‘Betsy Ross’ Sneaker Backlash

Nike has confirmed that it will build a Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation (Nike Air MI) facility in Goodyear, Ariz., the brand’s third such facility in the United States.

The news comes little over a week after the future of the facility became uncertain due to a political backlash related to the release of a sneaker emblazoned with a “Betsy Ross” flag.

The sneaker in question was pulled back despite already being shipped to retailers when Nike endorser, Colin Kaepernick, reportedly informed the company of the flag’s use in white supremacist circles.

Following the move, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, tweeted that he would be instructing the Arizona Commerce Authority to “withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion,” dubbing the move anti-patriotic.

However, Nike said Thursday that it would move forward with its plans to build the factory that had been hinted at in its most recent earnings conference call.

“The new Arizona facility represents Nike’s third manufacturing center location dedicated to Nike Air,” the brand said in a statement. “Alongside Nike Air MI’s existing facilities in Oregon and Missouri, which have recently undergone their own expansions, the new Arizona location will bring together experts in design, engineering, and product creation to deliver the next era of Nike Air.”

Early Thursday morning, the Arizona Commerce Authority tweeted out a Nike blog post announcing the new factory, saying it was “pleased” the brand would be building the new facility in Goodyear and praised the deal for bringing in 500 new jobs and $184 million in investment money for the city.

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“Nike joins a growing cluster of global manufacturers that have selected Arizona for our top talent, strategic geographic location and modern infrastructure,” the group tweeted.

Following closely on the heels of that tweet, Gov. Ducey followed suit by tweeting that the factory is “good news” for his state and said Arizona is “open for business.”

Nike said the factory also represents the brand’s continued investment in sustainable innovation, remarking that, since 2008, every Nike Air sole manufactured in its facilities contained at least 50 percent recycled manufacturing waste—diverting 57 million pounds of that waste from landfills in just the past year.

The facility will join the two previous Nike Air MI manufacturing centers in producing Nike Air products, all related to the original concept of a sole infused with pressurized air to produce more bounce-back with every step.

“The expansion of Air MI in Arizona helps us keep pace with the growing demand for Nike Air and also greatly increases the size of our U.S. manufacturing footprint,” Eric Sprunk, Nike’s COO, said. “We want to thank the State and City of Goodyear for their partnership as we continue to accelerate our growth.”

The Arizona Commerce Authority did not respond to requests for comment, and it remains unclear whether the Arizona Commerce Authority followed Gov. Ducey’s proclamation and removed state-rewarded tax subsidies for Nike to build the facility.