Lordstown Motors Corp. CEO seeks relationship with YSU

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The head of the Lordstown Motors Corp., which wants to purchase the idled General Motors plant in Lordstown, is seeking a relationship between the company and Youngstown State University.

Steve Burns, CEO of Lordstown Motors Corp. [LMC], and about five company officials met Friday on the campus of Youngstown State University with university leaders, including President Jim Tressel, as well as state Sens. Sean O’Brien and Michael Rulli and representatives from the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, M7 Technologies, America Makes – National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center in Warren and others.

“It was very informative and they have a great passion to make this happen,” Tressel said. “We want to be involved in training, workforce development and research. We gave them an opportunity to make it known with us and engage with them in training. We want to the university involved in being engaged with a major car manufacturer.”

O’Brien of Bazetta, D-32nd, said Burns wants to establish the company’s headquarters in the Mahoning Valley.

Burns wants to start production of all-electric vehicles at the idled GM plant by the end of 2020, O’Brien said.

“They’ve got an aggressive timeline,” he said of LMC. “It’s possibly very positive news for the Valley. They want to build the relationships here.”

O’Brien and Rulli of Salem, R-33rd, met last week in Cincinnati with Burns and Duane Hughes, CEO of Workhorse Group Inc., which would be an investor in LMC. Burns is Workhorse’s former CEO.

“There are two big hurdles they have: the financing and the [United Auto Workers] contract,” O’Brien said.

GM’s exiting contract with the UAW expires Sept. 14. Because formally closing the Lordstown facility is part of those ongoing negotiations, the plant can’t be sold until at least then.

It would take about $300 million to $500 million for the proposal to be realized.

The UAW contract with GM expires in about a month. Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing.

GM in May confirmed a President Donald Trump tweet that it was in discussions with Workhorse and the affiliated, newly formed entity – since named LMC – to sell the Lordstown complex. A GM spokesman recently said: “Progress is being made” on the sale.

GM ended production of the Chevrolet Cruze at its 53-year-old Lordstown plant in March, eliminating the last 1,600 jobs left at the facility that employed about 4,500 in 2017.