An open letter to GM CEO Mary Barra

Dear Mary Barra:

Like U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, we remain hopeful and appreciative that you are keeping an open mind about the future of the Lordstown General Motors complex. It is true our area remains very committed to working with you to find a way forward to bring another product or products to this plant that has been so crucial to the economy in northeast Ohio.

But unlike Senators Portman and Brown, we see no need to make foolish demands that General Motors nor any private company would be obligated to answer.

In fact, we are embarrassed by the senators’ blatant politicization of this issue in a letter they penned. While the letter was addressed to you, it clearly was intended for their constituents in an attempt at political grandstanding. That’s why they are proudly showing it to the public.

We know they are demanding answers with information that is fully private, not public. Those questions included seeking details about the time and money it would take GM to close the plant, should the company choose to shutter it; demands for names of all suppliers affected by GM’s decision; potential cost of retooling the plant; cost of construction of a new paint shop being constructed in the Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, plant and other details, none of which is public information. We realize GM has no obligation to respond.

Certainly the senators’ demands paint a picture of a political environment fraught with anger and frustration, rather than one in which the leaders we have elected to represent us in Washington are willing to cooperate or negotiate in good faith in order to bring financial success to both your company and our economy. Rattling your cages and attacking GM is no way to work together to find a solution, and for that, we apologize.

We hope you realize the people in our Mahoning Valley really want you to succeed here, if possible. We know economic development leaders here in the Mahoning Valley with more logical minds are willing to come to the table and work with you to keep this Lordstown plant operating.

Let us assure you that we appreciate the commitment General Motors has made to the Mahoning Valley for decades and the millions and millions of dollars that have been invested here. Now we hope there will be a way to continue that partnership.

Workers and suppliers here, classified among the best assembly plant workforce in North America, have proven time and again their commitment to GM. They are standing ready to continue their hard work and ask only for a chance to continue with stamping and/or assembling a new product.

And if that is not possible, then we ask that you help us to find a way to transition the plant to someone else so that our area may continue to benefit from it.

This sprawling 6.2-million-square-foot facility has operated as the heart of manufacturing in our area for more than 50 years. It includes a complete auto-making facility, including a metal stamping plant, a paint shop and an assembly plant. It comes with a ready-made workforce and nearby supplier support. This complex’s location, buildings and workforce are very marketable to potential users.

Again, we appreciate your promise to keep an open mind, and we in the Mahoning Valley look forward to working with you to find a way to continue the success with you that we have had for more than five decades.