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Lawmakers back loan application

Money would help Lordstown Motors Corp. repurpose plant

LORDSTOWN — An Ohio delegation of U.S. senators and representatives support a federal loan for Lordstown Motors Corp. to help it repurpose the former General Motors Lordstown plant to produce electric pickup trucks.

The group of 10 lawmakers is urging the U.S. Department of Energy to approve the startup automaker’s application for a loan through the agency’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program.

However, a letter of support released Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s office falls short on details regarding the application except it would help Lordstown Motors turn the massive facility into a producer of electric vehicles.

A person with knowledge of the loan said the application hasn’t been filed, but expects it will be next week.

Messages seeking comment were left with Lordstown Motors founder and CEO Steve Burns and the company’s media relations firm.

It was Ryan, D-Howland, who earlier this year obtained funding for the program through the House energy and water appropriations subcommittee to help Lordstown Motors convert the plant, which it bought last year for $20 million from GM.

Help through the program would leverage private sector financing for investment into the company “and grow the region into the epicenter of electric vehicle manufacturing in the Midwest,” the letter states.

It continues the delegation believes the plan to convert the plant into a manufacturer of electric vehicles is an “excellent example of why Congress created” the loan program and the project is a “perfect fit” for funding under it.

The loan program’s website states is has $17.7 billion in authority to support manufacturing of eligible light-duty vehicles and qualifying components.

The program already has loaned $8 billion for projects the website touts has supported production of more than 4 million advanced technology vehicles and 35,000 direct jobs in eight states.

In 2009 the Department of Energy loaned $5.9 billion to Ford to upgrade 13 facilities in several states, including Ohio in Brook Park, to advance fuel efficiency on several vehicles –Escape, Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and F-150 light-duty pickup truck — the website states.

The next year the department loaned $465 million to Tesla Motors to produce all-electric vehicles and develop a manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif., to produce components. Also in 2010, $1.45 billion was loaned to Nissan North America to build a battery manufacturing plant, construct a paint plant and retool a facility in Tennessee to assembly and all-electric vehicle.

Lordstown Motors officials have said they want to begin production in late 2020 and initially would employ about 400. In November, officials said fundraising to convert the plant would be significantly north of $300 million and since reports have been published that the number is closer to $450 million.

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