GM to invest $700 million in Ohio, create 450 new jobs

“I have been working nicely with GM to get this done,” President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

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By Lucy Bayly and Paul A. Eisenstein

General Motors will invest $700 million in Ohio, creating 450 new jobs, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday via tweet.

GM will also sell the massive auto assembly plant in Lordstown it closed down in March after 52 years producing 16 million vehicles.

Workhorse Group, an electric vehicle start-up based in Cincinnati, will purchase the facility to build electric trucks, “subject to a UAW agreement etc.,” wrote Trump.

While the Lordstown plant has not been actively producing vehicles since early March, GM spokesman Dan Flores said at the time that the 6.2 million square foot plant would remain in a "state of readiness." The proposed acquisition must be negotiated with the United Auto Workers Union, which still officially represents the now-shuttered factory.

"In response to General Motors’ announcement today, the UAW’s position is unequivocal," said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes in a statement released Wednesday. "General Motors should assign a product to the Lordstown facility and continue operating it. The UAW will continue its effort to protect the contractual rights of its members at these locations."

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Workhorse will officially become a minority partner in the purchase, working with a new entity formed by its founder, Steve Burns. Together, they still have to complete their due diligence.

“I have been working nicely with GM to get this done,” wrote Trump, while also thanking GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra and state lawmakers. “Thank you to Mary B, your GREAT Governor, and Senator Rob Portman. With all the car companies coming back, and much more, THE USA IS BOOMING!"

“The U.S. economy and our core business are strong, so we can expand our commitment to U.S. manufacturing and Ohio and create job opportunities for our employees,” said Barra in a statement released Wednesday. “We also expect to bring more jobs to the U.S. over time in support of the expected provisions of the USMCA.”

GM, the largest of the Detroit-based car makers, has eliminated more than 14,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada since November 2018, part of a broader plan that also will see three North American assembly plants and two component factories close by the end of 2019.

“This is about making sure that GM is lean and agile,” Barra said in February, adding that the automaker wants to trim back some of its more bloated operations in order to help it fund its aggressive push into mobility services, such as autonomous ride-sharing, as well as electrified vehicles.

Barra has previously outlined a “path to an all-electric future” that will begin with the launch of an all-new Cadillac battery-electric SUV in late 2020 or early 2021.

GM has stressed that its goal is to cut back before the next recession — with many analysts predicting that U.S. car sales will begin at least a moderate decline this year after an unexpected upturn in 2018.

The exact timing for completion of the Lordstown sale was not announced, but Burns said in a joint statement with GM that, “The first vehicle we would plan to build if we were to purchase the Lordstown Complex would be a commercial electric pickup, blending Workhorse’s technology with Lordstown’s manufacturing expertise.”