Absent a formal announcement from General Motors Corp. -- it now appears that the decision-makers are aiming for the second half of the year -- the future prospects of the Lordstown assembly plant must be gleaned from comments made by corporate and union officials and longtime observers of the American auto industry. And from what is being said, there is reason to believe that the next generation small car will be built in the Mahoning Valley.
Here's how David Cole, director of the University of Michigan's Study of Automotive Transportation, sees GM's plans coming together: the world's leading automaker will decide what kind of small cars to build to replace the highly successful Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire and will then announce a $500 million investment in the Lordstown assembly facility.
Competition: Cole, who speaks with authority about the auto industry, believes the timing of the announcement hinges on how quickly GM is able to decide what cars to build to compete with the successful Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Ford Focus.
Consider also the comment from John Mohan, a union official at the Lordstown plant, who says that all indications are that GM will approve the overhaul of the Lordstown assembly facility.
Finally, the statement from Renee Rashid-Merem, GM spokesperson, that GM is still deciding how to remodel the plant does put the project in a positive light. Rashid-Merem noted that union agreements and tax incentives relating to the Lordstown plant are in place, leaving "internal factors" to be addressed.
Perhaps we're reading too much into these and other statements, but given the importance of GM to the Mahoning Valley's well-being, we aren't willing to entertain the idea of GM pulling up stakes.