Many communities across the country often rely on a large, single employee to provide good-paying jobs and job security. But as we’ve seen time and time again, eventually these employees close up shop, moving elsewhere or shutting down completing, leaving the community without an economic driver. That is what could happen in Lordstown, Ohio as production at GM’s Lordstown factory ends. According to a report from CNBC, the local economy could lose as much as $3 billion this year alone with the plant sitting idle.
At its peak, Lordstown employed 10,000 people. The factory opened producing the Chevrolet Impala on April 28, 1966, when the first example rolled off the assembly line. Since it began operations, employees at Lordstown have built the Chevrolet Vega, Cavalier, Cobalt, and, most recently, the Cruze. It’s producing 16 million vehicles since 1966. However, things began to sour at the plant in April 2018 when GM announced it’d cut second shift and eliminate 1,500 jobs.
Slow Chevrolet Cruze sales are taking a toll on production at the factory, with General Motors selling about half the Cruzes it did when compared to 2014. Sedans of all sizes are falling out of favor with Americans, forcing companies like General Motors and others to reassess the importance of even offering such models that already have thin profit margins. The final nail in Lordstown’s coffin came in November when GM announced it’d idle production at the plant in March, which has already happened.
The future of the plant remains uncertain until later this year when General Motors will meet with the United Automobile Workers union to negotiate a new contract while determine the determining the future of Lordstown and the three other U.S. plants GM wants to idle. The delayed negotiations have U.S. President Trump angry, tweeting earlier this week he wants negotiations to begin immediately. The ripple effect of lost jobs can cripple a community.