Lordstown Awaits Answers On GM Plant Sale

May 30, 2019
Originally published on May 31, 2019 2:20 pm

The mayor of Lordstown says his village is still waiting to learn whether GM will sell its idle auto plant to electric truck maker Workhorse.

Mayor Arno Hill said he met with GM and Workhorse officials in Columbus earlier this month. But he still has questions, such as who would invest in the plant and whether the company would ask for incentives.

“Right now, we’re just in the wait-and-see mode,” Hill said. “Ideally we’d like to get another General Motors product, so people don’t have to move out of town. But if that doesn’t happen, get us some answers.”

The picture may not become clearer until after GM and the United Auto Workers finish contract negotiations, Hill said. Those talks are expected to begin this summer.

Workhorse and GM said earlier in May that they were in talks to turn the plant over to “an affiliated, newly formed entity.” GM announced late last year that it would “unallocate” the plant, which previously produced the Chevy Cruze.

The New York Times reported this week that Workhorse would need $300 million in investment to restart the plant. Founder and former CEO Steve Burns, who will run the new venture, called the effort “a gargantuan task,” according to the newspaper. A spokesman for Workhorse has not yet responded to an ideastream request for comment.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, said he would help in any way he could to complete the deal. But he also sounded notes of caution.

“Those of us from the Youngstown area are very skeptical,” Ryan said. “Over the years, we’ve been promised blimp factories and God knows a million other different things, that people were going to come in and save the day.”

An earlier version of this story referred to Steve Burns as CEO of Workhorse. Burns stepped down from that role this year. 

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