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Stay positive as EV future unfolds here

We, like most residents of the region, had been hopeful that General Motors would return to auto making here in Lordstown after ending production in March of the popular and well-built Chevy Cruze.

Sadly, last month it became very clear that wasn’t going to happen when the corporation and the national United Auto Workers voted to approve a new four-year labor contract that allowed for GM to permanently shutter the sprawling local plant.

Then last week word came that the plant had been sold, as expected, to Lordstown Motors Corp., or LMC, a fledgling offshoot of Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group Inc., an electric vehicle, or EV, delivery truck manufacturer.

LMC CEO Steve Burns said the plan is to start production here of the Endurance, a full-size commercial fleet pickup truck, by late 2020.

“We are committed to the people of Lordstown, we will locate our headquarters in the Lordstown plant and will plan to build the Endurance pickup truck utilizing experienced workers who helped produce millions of vehicles in this very same plant,” Burns said. He also has said he hopes to bring battery cell production to the 6.2 million-square-foot plant. The facility would employ about 400 people to start.

Isn’t that exactly what local residents, laid off workers and those reliant on local manufacturing jobs should want to hear? Many of these folks live in the Salem area and parts of Columbiana and southern Mahoning counties.

We are thrilled that it now appears the hints, news tips and discussions that have been trickling in for months about Lordstown’s connection to the bright future of electric vehicle manufacturing is about to come to fruition.

Add to that the fact that General Motors also has committed to bringing battery cell production to the area, expected to create another 1,000 or so manufacturing jobs, and the economically bleak summer and fall may start to look brighter.

While LMC has not been forthcoming on expected pay range of its new employees, the company has said they anticipate their workers will be represented by the UAW.

GM’s 1,000 battery cell production jobs are expected to be in the neighborhood of $17 per hour.

Now certainly, we understand those estimated startup pay rates are well below current UAW wages that reach $30 per hour.

But rather than dwelling on what has been lost, we must try hard to move past that and focus on opportunities in our future.

In fact, this opportunity to be in on the ground level of the up-and-coming electric vehicle market is no less than huge for our region and Ohio because it guarantees a local role in the bright future of this industry.

Sure, we understand a startup electric vehicle manufacturer may not be the ideal situation that many were hoping for. But it’s jobs and, if things go as Burns is predicting, it is just the start of a very promising growth opportunity for us.

We all should remain focused and positive on new growth and development in our future.

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