Trump to visit a Texas-based Louis Vuitton facility, partly financed by local government incentives
President Donald Trump will this week visit a new Louis Vuitton facility in Texas, which is being bolstered by local government financing, underlining his increasingly close relationship with Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest man, and the ultimate owner of Vuitton.
Trump will visit the plant near Keene, Texas on Thursday, October 17, though the president will be spending most of his time in the state hosting a 'Keep America Great' rally in Dallas the same day.
According to a White House official quoted in several Texas daily newspapers, Trump’s trip will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a speech about the new jobs the workshop is bringing, along with a tour of the luxury fashion facility. Arnault, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH); Texas state officials and First Daughter Ivanka will also be on hand, according to the Dallas Morning Herald.
Back in 2017, news first emerged that Vuitton was going to build a facility in Keene, located in Johnson County, some 28 miles south of Fort Worth. LVMH had purchased the large, 250-acre Rockin’ Z Ranch, distant from any high-fashion retailing in the Lone Star State. Vuitton press materials, however, list the property as the Rochambeau Ranch, after a French marshal who helped the original 13 American colonies win independence from Britain.
At the time, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon had approved a package of government incentives to bring Louis Vuitton to the area. Harmon confirmed that Louis Vuitton would receive a 45 percent tax abatement in its first initial year and, once the company has over 500 employees, would receive a 75 percent abatement for 10 years. Also, a $1.1 million state grant was awarded to be used to improve roadways to the plant, the newspaper confirmed.
The facility reflects LVMH’s commitment to bring new jobs to the U.S; with the long-term plan to create 1,000 jobs in the next five years at the facility, according to a LVMH spokesperson. Keene is a city of some 6,300 residents first settled in the 1850s and best known for its large population of Seventh-Day Adventists. Vuitton is believed to operate 17 facilities worldwide, and this plant will be its third in the United States.
Religious fundamentalists are a key element in the Trump “base,” who he fires up at rallies, in part by denouncing independent media as “fake news.” According to the New York Times, a four-minute clip shown at a conference held in Trump’s Doral resort in Miami, Florida this past weekend showed a fake video, featuring superimposed images, of Trump shooting rival politicians and journalists.
Arnault was the first prominent European businessman to visit Trump after his election, meeting the New York builder inside Trump Tower, along with his second son Alexandre. Politically, Arnault is generally associated with the current centrist president of France, Emmanuel Macron, a former Socialist Party minister who once worked as a Rothschild banker. Curiously, Arnault has himself used the term “fake news,” in responding to a question from a reporter at last year’s annual shareholder meeting of LVMH.
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