DETROIT, Mi. — The first week for any new governor is filled with a lot of meetings but for newly inaugurated Ohio Governor Mike DeWine there may be none more powerful than his meeting Thursday with General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
The meeting has been circled on his calendar following GM’s decision in late November to end production of the Chevy Cruze at their Lordstown Plant next March.
“My experience in life is if you want to convey a message, you do it in person,” DeWine said after touring some of the new vehicle models at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Wednesday.
His message is if you need to end the production of the Cruze for business reasons? “We get it, we understand.”
But he added that GM is already on record saying they want to add 20 new all electric vehicles to their lineup. “Obviously what we want, what the people of the Mahoning Valley want, would be for General Motors to put a new line in Lordstown, so we’re going to have that discussion.”
“In regards to Lordstown we’re going to try to get some idea of timing here,” he said. “What I’m going to express to her is we want to be a partner, we certainly would like to have a new line put in there if that is not going to happen and is not possible obviously we want to move forward and work with them in regard to some other company coming in but that’s not our preference, that’s not where we’re starting.”
Timing, when it comes to Lordstown’s fate post March, is key for employees and the state. “The sooner that we could know that, the sooner that we could do that, that would be good,” he said.
“We want to do whatever we can to facilitate a better result. If that means that they’re not going back in there then look we know that there are other people who are interested, we want to help facilitate that,” DeWIne said.
On hand to lend his support to DeWine was President of United Auto Workers Local 1112 Dave Green. “He got sworn in on Monday, he’s here on Wednesday we’re very appreciative that the governor is doing what he said he was going to do,” Green said. “Hopefully the state of Ohio can work with General Motors in putting a package together in order for us to get product.”
With that being said, immediate expectations this week are low. “I don’t know that we’re going to get any commitment today or tomorrow or this week. I think we’re still going to end up closing down in March for a period of time but I’ve got a lot of confidence in our negotiating team,” he said.
“We just want the company to know that Lordstown is ready for the future, whatever they got give it to us and we’ll do it.”