Tuesday, May 21, 2019
By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS
State Sen. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-32nd, hosted meetings Tuesday in his office with business and state officials to discuss Workhorse and its interest in purchasing the idled Lords-town General Motors facility.
Involved in the business discussions were Senate President Larry Obhof of Ashtabula, Sen. Mike Rulli of Salem, R-33rd, Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber President James Dignan, former Workhorse CEO/founder Steve Burns and current CEO Duane Hughes, along with representatives from General Motors and Jobs-Ohio.com.
Workhorse is a Cincinnati-based electric-vehicle manufacturer specializing in electric delivery trucks.
Rulli said he was impressed by the capabilities of Workhorse’s products.
“They are becoming a leader in the industry,” he said.
Details haven’t been revealed about a new company Workhorse has created that would be involved in acquiring the Lordstown plant.
O’Brien said he remains cautiously optimistic about the deal.
“In order for it to work, there are several steps that have to be taken,” he said. “There are the talks with the UAW and General Motors to take into consideration. There are still funding issues that are out there.”
“We need to remain positive and continue to work with them,” he added. “We want to advance getting new vehicles in this plant.”
The deal is tentative, but the lawmakers hope it can bring jobs back to the village, and hopefully employ some former General Motors workers.
O’Brien and Rulli said the plant is attractive to the company for reasons including the availability of skilled autoworkers, the plant’s capability for high production volume and its proximity to Youngstown State University and additive manufacturing facilities.
“They want to develop a research testing center in parts of the actual plant,” O’Brien said. “They have found that electric vehicles are the future going forward.”
The deal will still be on the table even if Workhorse is not awarded a $6 billion contract from the U.S. Postal Service to produce new mail trucks, O’Brien said. If Workhorse does not purchase the plant, O’Brien and Rulli said they will continue to work toward bringing a new company to the facility, which made the Chevrolet Cruze but was not given a new product to build by GM this year.
Workhorse’s stock shares have been wobbly since President Donald Trump’s announcement about the potential deal May 8 but closed out Tuesday at $1.70, after spiking to $2.65 the day of the announcement. It had dipped to $1.26 early Tuesday.