It’s a day before Vice President Mike Pence will visit the plant, formerly used by General Motors to build the Chevrolet Cruze. The new truck will be unveiled on Thursday.
“I think when you see the pickup truck tomorrow, you’re going to be very, very excited about it,” DeWine said. “This is, I think, a really important day for the Mahoning Valley and the state of Ohio. We’re proud to be here.”
DeWine said he did not want to be at the Lordstown plant at the same time as the vice president because he and his wife have not been in large crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. He wore a mask during his tour and removed it to speak with reporters outside.
The governor said there’s a lot of room for growth and he’s optimistic about the company’s future, noting Ohio has always been an auto state. He said we often underestimate the amount of jobs manufacturing provides.
Lordstown Motors Corp. founder Steve Burns said the plant currently has 70 employees and 100 contractors. Most of them are engineers as they convert the plant to manufacture the trucks.
When they get closer to production, the plant will hire 300 to 400 engineers and about 400 line workers as part of the first wave. He said the GM plant used to produce 400,000 Cruzes a year and employ about 5,000 people, and Lordstown Motors hopes to exceed that number.
DeWine also used the opportunity to urge Ohioans to be vigilant in dealing with the ongoing pandemic, emphasizing the virus’ link to the economy. He said if there is a spike in cases, it won’t matter what orders he or the Ohio Department of Health issue, people will pull back and the economy will suffer.
“If you want the economy to continue to move, if you want to continue to get people back to work the number one most important thing you can do is to keep this virus from spreading. We have control of this, 11.7 million Ohioans control how fast this virus will spread,” DeWine said.