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President Trump Says GM To Sell Lordstown Plant To Ohio Company

GM idled the Lordstown plant in March 2019. [Tim Rudell / WKSU]
GM idled the Lordstown plant in March 2019.

Tweets from President Trump on Wednesday indicate hope – and jobs – may be coming in the wake of General Motors’ closure of its Lordstown plant in March.

The president praised GM CEO Mary Barra, saying she informed him that “GM will be selling their beautiful Lordstown Plant to Workhorse, where they plan to build Electric Trucks.” Such a deal would need the approval of the United Auto Workers. Trump added GM is also planning to spend $700 million in Ohio, creating 450 new jobs in three separate locations.

The automotive giant later confirmed that they are in talks with Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group, an upstart maker of electric trucks and small aircraft with around 100 employees. A joint statement from GM and Workhore said a third, unnamed company described only as "an affiliated, newly formed entity" is also part of the ongoing negotiations. 

"Upon final agreement, the entity, led by Workhorse founder Steve Burns, would acquire the facility, according to a Wednedsay afternoon joint statemet from GM and Workhorse. "Workhorse would hold a minority interest in the new entity." 

Gov. Mike DeWine says he spoke with Barra who confirmed the sale, but he remained reserved about the news.

“I’m just by nature a cautious person and until I know all of the facts, it sounds like good news,” DeWine said.   

The governor says if Workhorse succeeds in landing a contract to sell trucks to the U.S. Postal Service, there could eventually be as many as 3,000 jobs at the Lordstown plant. 

In a written statement, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes responded to the announcement saying the union’s “position is unequivocal: General Motors should assign a product to the Lordstown facility and continue operating it.”

He pointed out that national negotiations with GM begin this summer.

“We will monitor this situation as it develops to determine what course of action will most benefit UAW-represented workers at General Motors.”

Workhorse was testing drone delivery off its electric trucks in Loveland, Ohio, as early as 2015. [Ann Thompson / WVXU]

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also remained reserved about the possible deal.

“Lordstown workers can’t cash a Tweet. They need paychecks. And before we judge what this really means, GM needs to provide workers with concrete details,” he said during a previously scheduled conference call shortly after President Trump’s tweets.

“The President of the United States has made it look like they’re going to fill the plant up again. It’s the same president that said that workers shouldn’t sell their homes because we’re going to repopulate these factories and build new ones. But we’ve seen none of that,” Brown said. “I’m hopeful here, but I’ve not really looked at the capacity of this plant to bring those kinds of numbers of jobs that the president’s implied.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, praised in the president's tweets, confirmed in a press release that the $700 million would go to the Parma stamping plant as well as the Toledo and Moraine plants, creating a total of 450 new jobs. 

“I look forward to hearing more from Workhorse about its plans to bring jobs to Lordstown, and I’m hopeful that this news will benefit the workers there,” Portman said. “I will continue to work with GM, the UAW, and other key stakeholders on this matter in the coming weeks and months.”

A statement from State Sen. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, says GM’s Parma Metal Center “will expand production of stamped parts and deploy laser cell welding technology.”

Workhorse stock soared more than 40 percent on the president’s tweet, even before the deal was confirmed to be in the works, and the company's web site crashed soon after. Workhorse, which has about 100 employees and is headquartered in Loveland, Ohio, has been developing an electric truck since 2016 and debuted its two-seat hybrid electrical SureFly helicopter earlier this year.

Additional reporting from Jo Ingles.