Dallas County Commissioners are voicing hesitation over a deal with Nike due to concerns regarding the company’s reported racial diversity data.

Nike had hoped to bring a $60 million distribution center to Wilmer in return for a 10-year, 50% tax break for the athletic wear company and its landlord, LPC Southport. The project would bring 500 new permanent jobs with an average salary of $37,000, which is roughly $7,000 more than most salaries in the area, according to Dallas County.

Jesse Crawford, the county’s director of Small Business Enterprise, agreed that Nike has a history of strong community engagement through sustainable contributions and impacts.

Crawford suggested that Nike has a consistent track record of building homes, creating outreach programs, and refurbishing playgrounds with rubber from recycled shoes.

While granting Nike a decade of tax exemption means forgoing at least $68,000 in annual tax collection, the county could be gaining more than $68,000 per year in additional tax revenues.

Some fear that the commissioners’ stance against it could lead the athletic shoe and clothing company to withdraw its proposed multimillion-dollar distribution center and, along with it, the 500 jobs and considerable economic growth it is expected to bring.

Dallas County commissioners asked for more time to read Nike’s latest report on diversity in the company’s hiring, stalling the process.

The County’s tax abatement policy requires companies to submit Equal Employment Opportunity data in their application but is not specific about any racial or ethnic representation standards.

Nike’s 12-member board of directors is comprised of four women and eight men. Three of the 12 members are black, while none identify as Latino. Looking at positions from the director level and above, Hispanic workers occupy 6% of positions, black workers 6%, and Asian workers 14%.

Overall, racial and ethnic minorities comprise 30.3% of workers at the director level and above at Nike, while women fill 43% of leadership positions at the company.

Commissioner John Wiley Price, who has been exceptionally vocal on the issue, explained that the court was generally unimpressed with Nike’s offer, remarking, “If we go down this road, we go down this road begrudgingly.”

Fellow Commissioner Theresa Daniel specifically suggested that the diversity report disappointed her, commenting, “I think at this point, I’m probably going to vote no.”

Eric Geisler, president of Economic Incentive Services, represented Nike at the meeting. He emphasized that the company hopes to do better, having set concrete goals for higher Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion performance in the future.

In his statement, Geisler indicated that Nike has options if the Dallas county commissioners will not grant the tax abatement request.

“This has been a long site selection process,” Geisler said. “This site was one of many that they were looking at. Whether we like them or not, incentives are kind of part of the equation these days.”

In response, the commissioners implied that the Wilmer spot is not a bad place for business, so they have no reason to be desperate.

“You’re a publicly held company; you got to make sure the dollars and cents work out. I get it, but we’re not desperate,” Commissioner J. J. Koch said.

However, in Koch’s opinion, Nike still has more work to do before commissioners can justify to taxpayers why the athletic firm deserves a tax break. “Definitely, Nike can do more,” the commissioner said.

The date for the county commissioners court vote has not yet been determined. The court must decide whether a $68,000-per-year tax abatement will be offset by economic development from a firmly established company and weigh other considerations as well.