Gov. DeWine moves to save Lordstown plant

That it was just two days after his gubernatorial inauguration when Mike DeWine made an overnight trek to Detroit in the name of saving the Lordstown General Motors plant speaks volumes about what we can expect from our state’s new CEO.

The message he delivered to GM President and CEO Mary Barra Thursday morning was focused and clear: Ohio is ready and willing to put together an incentive package to keep the company making vehicles at its plant in Lordstown. DeWine came away with no signals or promises, but then again, he didn’t expect any. He knew this was going to be an introductory meeting, and following the discussion, he said he believes Barra is open to working with the state. The message DeWine said he delivered during his 50-minute closed-door meeting with Barra was to impress on Barra “our willingness, desire to put a package together.”

As evident by DeWine’s comments, his discussions with Barra were helpful to Trumbull County’s situation because they were about relationship building, not about demands or confrontation. That is key, as we’ve opined previously in this space, rants and demands do no good in attracting or retaining private business.

DeWine understands that.

“I have found if you are serious about a relationship, serious about a discussion, you have to go and meet with people directly, look them in the eyes and have that discussion … the auto show was a great opportunity to meet auto representatives on their territory,” he told Tribune Chronicle business and politics writer Ron Selak Jr. by telephone shortly after the Thursday morning meeting. That’s impressive. But what may be even more impressive was DeWine’s ability to look beyond GM and use the opportunity on Day 1 of his two-day trip also to introduce himself to officials at other automobile manufacturers with hope of relocation to the Mahoning Valley and, of course, retention in other parts of the state.

He spent Wednesday meeting with Ford CEO Jim Hackett, an Ohio native whose brother is Ohio Sen. Bob Hackett. He also met with representatives from Fiat Chrysler and Honda, as well as the executives of several automotive manufacturing parts suppliers.

DeWine called it a “productive day.” We agree, and so did United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Dave Green, who was impressed with DeWine’s initiative to travel to Detroit for this giant industry event on Day 3 and 4 of his governorship.

“A piece of the puzzle is making sure the state of Ohio is willing to sit at the table and do what they can,” Green said. “The fact the governor went there in his first week … I think that is huge, just one more piece of the puzzle to get us allocated work here.”

There is much work to do in the state of Ohio, and it’s clear by his actions that new Gov. DeWine is ranking high the needs of the Mahoning Valley.

“This is a priority, this is important,” DeWine told the Tribune Chronicle, a sister newspaper of the Salem News. “I fully understand what impact this is having on the Mahoning Valley and how important this is to the community.”

That’s a good sign for us here and for all of Ohio.