Economic Development

‘Interested Parties’ Inquire About GM Lordstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – General Motors Co. confirmed it has received “inquiries” about its idled Lordstown Complex, but the fate of the plant remains tied to negotiations scheduled to take place later this year with the United Auto Workers, a spokesman for the auto manufacturer said Thursday.

A day after President Donald Trump spoke about the plant at an appearance in Lima, during which he urged GM to reopen the plant “or sell it to somebody and they’ll open in it,” GM spokesman Dan Flores issued a statement that the automaker had received “inquiries from interested parties related to the Lordstown Complex and the Chevrolet Cruze,” the model manufactured there until the plant closed two weeks ago.

“We would consider any that are truly viable business opportunities,” Flores said. He declined to elaborate further about what the inquiries might involve.

The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber is “aware of several companies and developers that have had direct conversations with General Motors,” said Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, though she could not address the level or status of those discussions.

“We know that there have been several individuals that represented companies or developers that have been watching what has been going on for quite some time,” she added. None of the entities are local, she said.

What is important is that there is an “organized approach” to addressing any project with support from the local community and the state of Ohio, as well as engagement with the company, she said. If the plant is going to be sold to another entity, there have to be assurances that the company has “the right approach and the means” to pursue that kind of undertaking.

“Our first choice would be for that to stay open,” she said. “This is preparation should that outcome not be favorable for our community.”

Flores reiterated that the “ultimate future” of Lordstown and four other plants on “unallocated” status that have closed or are slated to close “will be resolved between GM and the UAW” in national negotiations scheduled to take place later this year.

“We remain open to talking with all affected stakeholders, but our main focus remains on our employees and offering them jobs in our plants where we have growth opportunities,” he said.

The Trumbull County plant, which produced its final Chevrolet Cruze two weeks ago, has been a regular topic since Saturday for Trump in speeches and via his favored social media platform, Twitter. Since then, he has cast blame on GM, the UAW and UAW Local 1112 President Dave Green for the plant’s closing. He also urged the automaker and union to begin talks now rather than wait until fall.

Should GM not place a new product in the plant, its future use “could be a variety of things,” Boyarko said. They include a mixed-use facility, a manufacturer with its supply chain companies in the complex, or simply demolishing the building and building new.

“The opportunities are fairly broad at this point,” she said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.