DeWine: Ohio ‘Not Actively Pursuing’ $60M Clawback from GM for Lordstown Closure

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Just over a week since The Business Journal and ProPublica reported that Ohio was seeking to recover $60 million in public subsidies awarded to General Motors for its Lordstown Assembly, Gov. Mike DeWine said the state is “not actively pursuing a clawback” and is instead focusing on how the automaker can create jobs in Ohio.

Both DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the state has been in constant talks with GM since the announcement came about Lordstown’s closure and those discussions are over how GM can create jobs in the state.

“What we’re doing is having constructive conversations with General Motors about how we can turn that into things that are helpful to them and, importantly for us, to the state of Ohio. Our focus every day has to be on jobs,” he said.

Added Husted: “We want to make sure that we’re fulfilling the expectations that we had with taxpayers’ money and in a way that’s supportive of GM and job creation in the state. Those conversations have been very constructive. We don’t see them as adversarial. We’ll get to a place where everybody wins.”

The Ohio Development Services Agency, which oversees development incentives, told GM in March that it would recommend the termination of its tax agreements and collect a full refund. A spokesman for the agency said the matter would be considered at an upcoming meeting, but did not specify when. The state tax authority’s next meeting is July 27.

Closing the Lordstown plant violated the terms of two state economic development agreements that GM signed more than a decade ago, according to documents obtained by The Business Journal and ProPublica through public records requests. In return for tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks, the company had pledged to maintain operations at the Lordstown site until at least 2027.

Late last year, General Motors announced a joint venture with LG-Chem in which it would build a battery plant near the site of its former assembly complex as part of a partnership with LG Chem. The $2.3 billion project is expected to create 1,100 jobs once it is operational. A ground breaking has not been announced but site preparation is underway.

DeWine and Husted spoke to reporters Wednesday after a tour of the Lordstown Motors plant, which the startup purchased from GM to build the electric-powered Endurance pickup truck. The truck will be revealed for the first time Thursday by Vice President Mike Pence.

Pictured: Gov. Mike DeWine spoke after a tour of the Lordstown Motors plant Wednesday.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.