Goodyear in Danville has entered an agreement to manufacture 405 of the U.S. Navy’s aviation tires, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine’s office announced Wednesday.

“This is great news for Danville and the employees at Goodyear,” Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones said. “This is great news for our city and our region.”

Before the agreement, Goodyear Danville produced just 2% of the Navy’s aviation tires since 2014.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to provide aviation tires to the U.S. Navy and for every opportunity we have to support those who serve our country,” Glenn Leonardi, Goodyear’s general manager for aviation, said in a prepared statement. “Goodyear has made products for the U.S. armed forces for more than a century, and we look forward to continuing to build on this legacy for many years to come.”

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Danville, which has more than 2,000 employees, will not hire additional workers as a result of the contract.

The announcement comes just more than three months after Goodyear announced layoffs at the Danville plant. Officials said in February they would eliminate 13 salaried positions and — a week later — announced they would cut another 60 hourly employees.

When reached by a Register & Bee reporter on Wednesday afternoon, Goodyear spokeswoman Barbara Hatala and Kaine spokeswoman Katie Stuntz would not comment on the record for this story.

Jones said he hoped the new agreement will help prevent layoffs at the plant. The plant also manufactures tires for commercial trucks and buses.

“Hopefully, this could sustain the workforce they currently have without any more layoffs,” he said.

Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, helped open the Navy’s tire-bidding process so manufacturers like Goodyear could be considered.

“Goodyear-Danville is a critical economic driver for the region,” Kaine said in a prepared statement. “I’m thrilled the plant will be able to grow its business.”

Kaine, along with Sens. Mark Warner, D-Virginia; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Pat Roberts, R-Kansas; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, pushed for a change to the National Defense Authorization Act to make the Navy’s procurement process more transparent and competitive.

The bipartisan team of senators negotiated a change to the act that ended the Navy’s practice of restricting tire procurement to a limited number of manufacturers, allowing all manufacturers to bid, according to Kaine’s office.

“Anytime a company in Danville is awarded a big contract like this, we’re happy to hear that,” City Manager Ken Larking said. “It’s going to be good for our economy.”

Goodyear officials told Kaine during the senator’s visit to the Danville plant in 2017 they were pushing the Navy to address concerns about the tire procurement process.

Kaine raised the issue with the Navy after the visit.

Crane reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7987.

Crane reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7987.

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