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Community devastated after announcement that General Motors Lordstown plant to stop production

Posted at 10:18 AM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-26 23:15:12-05

The General Motors plant in Lordstown will stop production in March of 2019, sources confirmed. The closing is devastating news for many in Mahoning Valley, who've relied on the General Motors Lordstown plant for more than 50 years. 

"They get $2.3 billion in profits this last quarter, gonna have $10 billion for the year. This is what they do to us now? After a huge tax cut. What more do you want from the American people?" Congressman Tim Ryan said to News 5. 

According to city officials, for every factory job cut, seven others are affected, so it's not just the estimated 1,500 who work at the plant facing uncertainty come 2019, it's all of the businesses who call the area home. 

"There won't be one neighborhood, one school, one church that's not affected by this closure today,” Ryan said. “This has been the plant that's held this community through a lot of ups and downs.”

The community considers Lordstown's GM plant their 6.2 million square foot heart, beating since 1966.

Small businesses like Nese's County Cafe, a popular local breakfast and lunch spot, were abuzz with Monday's news of uncertainty.

"This community is going to go down. This place. Lots of people just bought homes," former General Motors employee Carmela Deno told News 5. 

Deno worked at the Lordstown plant for more than 40 years before retiring over the summer after two of the three shifts in the factory, amounting to 3,000 jobs, were cut. Nearly 600 employees at the plant opted to retire early or accept a buyout after the company announced the elimination of the second shift.

Deno raised her family, that now includes grandchildren, here.  "My work helped me raise my son," she said. 

Some of her family still works there, she said. "My nephew is very sad. He has three kids."

Officials said folks who work at the plant were called into a meeting Monday where they were told the plant will be idle as of March 1, the Chevrolet Cruze will stop production, and no new product will be allocated. In April, GM said a decline in Chevrolet Cruze sales is to blame for the employee reduction at the Lordstown plant.

The decision is part of the company’s steps to improve business performance, realign manufacturing and reduce salaried workforce, according to their press release. 

Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill and the President of the Union (UAW Local 1112) David Green are both holding onto the glimmer of hope General Motor's choice of words offered.

"It was non-allocated or in-allocated and that just means that there's no product to announce to put in this plant right now," Mayor Hill told News 5.  "I'm holding out for the best.”

"We've got a great workforce and we've proven ourselves. So, I am hopeful that between March and September we get some positive news," Green said. 

It's that hope that will keep this area alive for the next few months. 

"I hope we get a new car. I don't care what it is. As long as we get a new product. For these people to get back to work," Deno said. 

GM announced Monday that it is slashing 14,700 factory and white-collar jobs in North America and closing five factories, including the Lordstown factory, according to the Associated Press.