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Ford's century-old Ohio roots grow deeper with $1.5 billion investment and 1,800 new jobs

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 18:55:32-04

AVON LAKE, Ohio — Ford’s decision to invest $1.5 billion into it’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake to assemble an all-new commercial electric vehicle, creating 1,800 new hourly jobs, is the surest sign that the partnership between the Buckeye State and Ford that started over a century ago will continue well into the future.

Ford once produced Model Ts in Cleveland, first at E. 72nd and St. Clair, then at 11610 Euclid Avenue, a building now home to the Cleveland Institute of Art. As demand for Ford products grew after World War II, so too did its footprint in Ohio with the opening of plants in Brook Park, Walton Hills, Lorain and Avon Lake.

In 1995, Ford had 24,000 employees in Ohio and was the state’s number two employer behind General Motors, which was number one with 63,200 workers. But just two years later, things began to turn for Ford. In 1997, the nearby Lorain Assembly Plant was delivered a blow when Ford ended production of its Cougar and Thunderbird models, resulting in the layoff of 1,800 hourly employees, the exact same number the company announced today it would be adding to the Sheffield plant.

Ford is currently Ohio's 48th largest employer, well ahead of GM, which has fallen in the last 25 years from the first to the 75th spot. The latest blow for GM came all too publicly in 2019 with the closing of their Lordstown Assembly Plant despite the best attempts of Ohio lawmakers who had a united pitch to GM.

"Give us a chance, we're not asking for charity,” said Senator Rob Portman in December of 2018. “What we're asking for is the opportunity to once again show what we can do."

GM at the time was on the record committed to producing 20 new electric vehicle lines, so newly-elected Governor Mike DeWine pitched — why not build one of them at Lordstown?

"If they will put a new line in Lordstown that we will do everything we can to support that, help that, put a package together,” DeWine said in 2019.

While GM never budged, the package that the administration worked on with JobsOhio likely laid the groundwork for the one presented to Ford, with the automaker providing to the people of Sheffield and Avon Lake the very economic lifeline the people of Lordstown never saw.

JobsOhio, the state’s private nonprofit economic development corporation, has placed significant focus on supporting the automotive supply chain, as original equipment manufacturers have begun to place a major focus on electric vehicle production.

“The Avon Lake facility represents the automotive heritage of Ohio and our world-class labor workforce, and also our shared commitment with Ford to advancing innovation as we transition – together – to the EV space for future production,” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO. "As manufacturing continues to evolve in Lorain County, JobsOhio and our partners are committed to protecting and growing Ohio’s automotive industry by positioning the state as a global EV leader.”

Construction on Ford's Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake is expected to begin later this year; assembly on the commercial electric vehicle is expected to begin in mid-decade.

“Ohio is one of the world’s great automotive hubs and a key manufacturing state that has been central to Ford since we first opened Ohio Assembly Plant in 1958,” said Kumar Galhotra, president, Ford Blue. “Ford is proud to assemble more vehicles and employ more union autoworkers in the U.S. than any other auto manufacturer, and our commitment to the state of Ohio deepens today with the creation of 1,800 union jobs and $1.5 billion investment to build an all-new commercial EV at Ohio Assembly Plant.”

RELATED: Lorain County to power Ford's push into electric vehicles; 1,800 jobs to be created at Ohio Assembly Plant