By GRACE WYLER
Elected officials and company executives will return to the General Motors complex here Wednesday to celebrate the official launch of the eagerly-awaited Chevrolet Cruze.
The GM Lordstown complex will host a “Cruze Kickoff” from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Wednesday. The event coincides with Lordstown’s first day of production on the Cruze units that will go on sale at dealerships later this month.
“We are going to celebrate our team here at Lordstown, and celebrate this fantastic car,” said Tom Mock, spokesman for the Lordstown complex.
The event is also an opportunity to thank the community for its support of the Lordstown complex and its workers, said Dave Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714, which represents the fabrication plant.
“The community has been so involved with supporting us and helping us to get this product,” he said.
Jim Graham, president of UAW Local 1112, which represents the assembly plant, added that celebration also will further energize the community about the Cruze.
“The excitement is already there,” Graham said. “We’re just going to try to out-do it.”
The event will feature speeches from Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, who will join Lordstown workers for the second time this year. The pair accompanied U.S. President Barack Obama to the Lordstown complex in February to announce the addition of a third shift at Lordstown.
During that visit, Reuss called the complex “ground zero for [GM] and this country.”
The first saleable Cruze built at Lordstown will be driven into the celebration by Strickland, Reuss and local UAW representatives, accompanied by the Boardman High School band.
The keys to the vehicle will then be handed over to the Chevy All-Stars, a group of 18 local GM dealerships, to symbolize the beginning of Cruze sales.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and Lordstown Mayor Michael Chafee also are scheduled to speak at Wednesday’s event.
“General Motors’ willingness to invest in the Mahoning Valley is another indicator of how our image has shifted, both in the U.S. market and abroad,” Ryan said. “As we continue to redefine our community and workforce, we will also continue to see new investments, new products, and new successes coming to our region.”