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LORDSTOWN GM still mulling over plans for revamp



Published: Tue, May 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN

Plans for the GM Lordstown plant remodel are in process, but officials still can't say what will be built there.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

LORDSTOWN -- General Motors most likely will decide the fate of the proposed renovation of the Lordstown Assembly Plant in the last half of the year, a spokeswoman said.

Renee Rashid-Merem said union agreements and tax incentives are complete but GM is still considering how to remodel the plant and what model to build there.

"The external factors are pulled together, but we still have some internal factors to work through," she said.

She said she couldn't be more specific about when a decision would be made. Herman Maass, former plant manager, said in January he expected a decision by June.

Model considerations: GM is considering building its next-generation small car at the plant, but union officials have said other models are possible. Included would be a $500 million renovation to make the plant more efficient.

The plant now employs about 4,400 hourly workers to make the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire. It had about 7,500 employees before it was remodeled in 1995.

A tax abatement application lists the remodeled plant as employing 3,600, but Mark Zigmont of the Trumbull County Planning Commission said he listed that figure because it had been discussed by Lordstown city officials.

At a hearing with county commissioners, GM said they would be more comfortable guaranteeing 2,600 jobs, Zigmont said. He said he thinks there could be more jobs than that but GM officials said they can't be sure until planning for the plant is completed.

Local officials have approved a tax agreement for the plant, but GM is reviewing the document.

Union action: United Auto Workers Local 1112 also have approved a new labor agreement that would take effect if the remodeling is approved and a new model is built at the plant.

Plant and union officials have developed a plan that calls for moving nearly every department in the plant, while maintaining production. GM is reviewing that plan.




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