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Writer questions value of Continental Tire donations

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By Mark West

Maybe I’m looking at things from a different perspective, but is Continental Tire really donating $35,000 to the Lancaster County School District? Did Continental Tire really donate $65,000 worth of tires to Lancaster County’s law enforcement? Or is Continental Tire using Lancaster County politicians for some sort of free publicity and free advertising?

The company was allotted more than $500,000 in state and Lancaster County incentives (corporate welfare), including tax credits for job creation for moving its headquarters to Lancaster County.

Just looking at things from that angle, it looks to me like those government entities that made those tax cuts are still $400,000 in the hole. What exactly did Continental Tire do for Lancaster County? Although Continental Tire was formerly located in Charlotte, several hundred Lancaster County residents were employed there until they shut down the tire production facility in 2006 and sent those jobs to Brazil and Mexico.

So, in my humble opinion, it’s not what Continental Tire did for Lancaster County, but what they did to Lancaster and York counties, other surrounding counties and even the entire United States by their outsourcing.

Another way to weigh out the benefits of Continental Tire’s donations is to compare it to the areas’ monetary losses that they created. Let’s use a low ball number of 100 Lancaster County job losses from Continental Tire.

Let’s then look at a low ball figure of $30,000 per year as an average income. That’s $3 million a year that the area has lost in income. Quite a bit of Lancaster County taxes were eliminated.

Continental Tire can donate$1 million if it wants to and still come out ahead in its game. These corporate-generated press releases and grandstanding media events, endorsed by some of those in Lancaster County government, are priceless advertising for Continental Tire.

I must remind those government officials that when they clamor and gush in the excitement and accept glad handedly these so-called donations of this rogue corporation, they are climbing over the backs of their own residents, including Continental Tire retirees and Continental Tire former employees.

I am curious, how many new employees have been hired by Continental Tire from Lancaster County as they promised? When Continental Tire accepted government welfare from Lancaster County and the state of South Carolina, there were just over 300 people employed at their new Lancaster County headquarters.

So again, how many more promised employees from Lancaster County has Continental Tire hired during its first year here? Perhaps a good news reporter can find this out.

Government officials, instead of smiling like corporate stooges on a stage, basically giving Continental Tire the keys to the city and regurgitating accolades to a company that gives you peanuts when they took away your steak, is just plain embarrassing.

What they should have been doing is helping those retirees when Continental Tire denied them health care. What’s really funny, in a not-so-funny way, is that Continental Tire will probably find a way to write off the donations on its taxes.

Mark West

Rock Hill