VIDEO: Portman Touts Economic Development Efforts in Mahoning Valley

October 15, 2020 | Portman Difference

In a new video, Senator Portman highlights his recent virtual meeting with Mahoning Valley leaders focusing on the economic redevelopment efforts at Lordstown and what steps are needed to make sure that growth continues so that the world-class workforce in the Mahoning Valley has the jobs it deserves. Portman touted Lordstown Motors and its new Endurance All-Electric Pickup Truck and discussed his efforts to urge GM to invest in new ventures at the Lordstown plant after the company decided to pull out of the facility.  

A transcript of the video can be found below and the video can be found here. 

“Had a productive virtual meeting today with the folks in Lordstown, Ohio. Now, Lordstown is right near Youngstown, Ohio, in the Mahoning Valley, and it’s an area of our state that’s been hit really hard because General Motors chose to pull out and leave the Chevy Cruze production facility there -- huge facility, a couple of hundred acres -- and they said that the 1,500 workers who were there on the last single shift they had could look elsewhere in the country, but they weren’t going to provide any jobs for them there in the Youngstown area. So a lot of those folks have stayed and lost their jobs and lost good jobs, high pay, good benefits. It was the largest single employer in the Mahoning Valley. So it was really a tough blow for Youngstown and particularly for the little town of Lordstown.  

“Anyway, the mayor was on the line, as well as a lot of business leaders, civic leaders, economic development folks. And we talked about moving forward, how we can continue to make progress. I’ve worked with the town to try to fill that plant, and we have so far brought in a company called Lordstown Motors, which is making electric pickup trucks. In fact, we had the electric pickup truck at the White House about two weeks ago showing it to the press corps and the president and others, which was pretty positive for Lordstown Motors. This electric pickup already has a lot of orders because it’s something that a lot of people are looking for, a green commercial pickup truck for municipalities, for utilities, and so on. So my hope is that they’ll continue to grow. They’ve got a few hundred jobs now, soon to be adding more. And the hope is that they can replace, not all the jobs at General Motors, that will be tough, at least in the short term, but a lot of those jobs.  

“General Motors disappointed everybody by pulling out. It was really a punch to the gut to the Lordstown community because they were the largest employer, but they have reinvested in the area as well. And I’ve been involved with that and I’ve been encouraging that. And I’m glad to see that they, along with a company called LG Chem, are going to be making batteries right next to the Lordstown plant. This will hire, by the way, 1,100 or 1,200 people right away, and the hope is that will even expand further in the next year or so. So this is not only great employment numbers, but also a great technology. This is the top-of-the-line, electric battery technology for cars and trucks and so on. And I’m really glad they chose Lordstown, and I know they had other choices. And, you know, based on a lot of conversations and a lot of help from a lot of folks locally in the state and those of us in the delegation, they made the right decision.

“We also talked about some of the exciting things going on in the area in addition to the battery plant. There is a new facility, the TJX Distribution Center, which will hire, at its peak, hundreds of people. And this is, you know, good that it’s happening right in Lordstown, helps the tax base. We also have two power plants being constructed, one already under construction, the other soon, which is natural-gas-fired power plants, which is bringing employment and opportunity to the area as well. So we’re beginning to turn the corner. The people of Lordstown are resilient. And the mayor and the economic development folks and the businesses there are determined and I’m determined to continue to work with them, to continue to make progress.

“We talked also a lot about COVID-19 and what’s needed next. They are supportive of an additional PPP program, that’s the Paycheck Protection Program. A lot of small and midsize businesses in the Mahoning Valley took advantage of that program. We want to extend it. I’m really frustrated that Congress can’t seem to get its act together and just extend that program. Everybody’s for it. There’s no need to have a larger, super expensive package in order to do some very common-sense things where there’s total agreement. This is one. We talked about my legislation called the Healthy Workplaces Act, which does exactly what we should be doing -- it encourages people to go back to work, but to go back to work safely because it provides a tax credit for companies that put in place things like Plexiglas shields or PPE, personal protective gear, gloves and masks and so on, to be able to make the workplace more safe. They should be incentivized to do that. And that should help to get their economy and the economy in Youngstown and elsewhere back on track. So it was a good discussion.

“We also talked about the need for us to do something on unemployment insurance because there are people who have lost their job through no fault of their own, who continue to have a tough time making ends meet. And that puts more liquidity into the economy. So a targeted, focused package on COVID-19 is needed and it would help the Lordstown area, based on the input I got today. My hope is that we can continue to make progress in Lordstown. I’m proud of the way the community has come together in the face of a huge problem when General Motors pulled out. And I’m proud of the fact that we will continue to work together to make more progress for Ohio and our great manufacturing base, including repurposing the Lordstown auto plant into an electric truck plant.”