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DeWine hints at new buyer for GM Lordstown plant

Gov. Mike DeWine spoke Thursday to the newspaper’s editorial board about a variety of issues, including the future of the General Motors complex in Lordstown. His wife, Fran, joined him. Staff photo / Allie Vugrincic

WARREN — Gov. Mike DeWine said there’s another potential player interested in coming to Lordstown, where General Motors closed its assembly plant, but he was close-lipped when it came to details.

When asked during a Thursday editorial board meeting at the Tribune Chronicle about the future of the idled GM facility in Lords-town, DeWine said, “You’ve reported on the Workhorse, (the company affiliated with Lordstown Motors Corp.), there’s that. There’s another one that’s not been reported. I can’t talk about it.”

In response to a follow-up question on whether it’s a vehicle, DeWine, a Republican, said, “Can’t talk about it.”

GM idled the 53-year-old plant in March, eliminating the last 1,600 jobs at the 6.2-million-square-foot facility that employed about 4,500 in 2017.

GM has plans to sell the facility — at least in part — to Lordstown Motors Corp. for a battery electric pickup truck should the startup obtain the funding to purchase the plant. It needs to raise about $300 million to buy and repurpose the plant as well as get the United Auto Workers’ approval of the sale. If successful, the company would initially employ about 400 workers with a production start date of late 2020 for the truck.

Meanwhile, GM is considering a battery cell production line in or near Lords-town, but not at the assembly plant. GM hasn’t given a timeline on that possible line or a specific location. But a company spokesman said the planned project for the Mahoning Valley could create about 1,000 jobs.

Of GM’s decision to stop production at the assembly plant, DeWine said, “This was not our preference. It was no one’s preference in the Valley. But now that we’ve crossed over this bridge, now we can move on. Now we can do whatever we can to get somebody else in there. As you know this thing has been in limbo for months and months and months. We’re passed through that — not the way we wanted to — but we’re passed through it at least.”

The state is ready to offer an incentive package to the company or companies that want to use the idled GM complex, he said.

As for GM’s possible plans for Lordstown, DeWine said the state is “going to see exactly what they want to do and we’ll engage them in trying to facilitate someone going in there, jobs being created.”

DeWine said JobsOhio, the state’s economic development corporation, is very active in the process of helping with the idled facility.

“I wouldn’t say they’re involved in talks. I’m not sure that’s the right term, but we know there are certain options that are out there,” he said. “Everybody who’s a player knows of our interest, knows we’re willing to be helpful.”

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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