OPINION: What’s good for the Cruze is good for the Mahoning Valley

The Mahoning Valley has seen some very good days in the past, and today has the makings of one of the best.

Sept. 8, 2010, marks the official launch of the Chevrolet Cruze, a Lordstown built small car that has the big job of carrying General Motors into its next stage of life.

A decade ago, it appeared the Lordstown plant was an endangered species, ready to be written off by Detroit. But local GM managers and local UAW officials knew there was a potential here that others were missing and they were determined to prove it. They not only succeeded by winning the job of building a new car, the 2004 Cobalt, but they set the stage for even better things to come.

A great turn-around

Lordstown was always in the running as the site to built the Cruze (as well as rumored to be the plant that might produce GM’s electric car, the Volt, and various other models. Some of those models might come yet, since the assembly line at Lordstown is capable of handling multiple platforms.

But today belongs to the Cruze.

It is a car that is already getting high praise from automotive writers, some of whom have put it a step above its primary competition in the small-car market, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. It has the advantage of not only being new to North America, but of being GM’s first world car, which has been road tested in Europe and Asia for two years.

It has style, engineering, economy, comfort and a commitment from the men and women who are assembling it to be a finely finished machine that will live up to its billing.

Saving the company

While Lordstown was able to save itself through grit and determination, it was just two years ago that General Motors Corp. found itself in dire straits. There was just enough support in Washington for saving one of the nation’s most enduring industrial icons, and today we in the Mahoning Valley can appreciate the support that was given to GM through its reorganization. The only ones who can’t fully enjoy this day are those politicians — a surprising number of whom were senators who just happened to have foreign automakers in their states — who were willing to write off GM.

As stories in this paper have noted, the Cruze not only holds a promise of prosperity for workers at Lordstown, but for thousands of employees at area companies that provide supplies and logistics support for the plant. And there are thousands of more employees across Ohio who are building components for the Cruze.

We won’t all be there when that symbolic first car rolls off the assembly line this morning, but we can all share in the sense of pride and hope for the future that the new Cruze provides.

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