GM’s Lordstown, Ohio Plant Shining Again Thanks to Popularity of Compact Cars

Lordstown, Ohio and the entire Northeast Ohio area’s economy is struggling like many other smaller cities across the U.S. Jobs are few and far between, homes aren’t selling and talk of closing the GM plant in Lordstown has caused locals to seriously worry about their futures.

Area residents have heard rumors for a few years now about the Lordstown plant closing, so they were shocked to find out that GM was not only not closing the plant, but was actually adding a third shift of employees and a new compact car, the Chevy Cruze.

GM Lordstown Assembly

GM’s Lordstown, Ohio plant

The Wall Street Journal has a great feature story on their site today about GM’s Lordstown plant and how this move affects the whole area.

GM’s Lordstown plant is the area’s major employer, so if it were to close, the whole Youngstown-Warren area would be devastated. Youngstown is known for being a major manufacturer of steel between the 1920s and 1960s. After the steel industry fell in the 1970s, the area never really recovered.

It’s no surprise that residents of the area were more-than-ecstatic to find out that GM had decided to keep the plant open and add more jobs. This was exactly what the struggling area needed.

"I thought I was going to pass out," says real-estate agent Yvonne Smith in nearby Warren, Ohio, who said messages began flooding into her cell phone after GM made its announcement on June 3. "It lifted the world off my shoulders. I said, ‘This is exactly what we need to get this area going’."

A third shift will create about 1,400 jobs at the Lordstown plant and has many effects on the area’s economy. More jobs mean more people will be looking to buy houses. More revenue will be spent at area restaurants and malls.

GM's Chevy Cobalt at the Lordstown plant

The Lordstown Assembly makes the Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5.

The GM Lordstown plant currently makes the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 and will soon begin manufacturing the Chevrolet Cruze, which will hit U.S. markets in 2010 and will also be sold around the globe.

As GM closes truck and SUV plants, cuts production, lays-off employees and tries to increase its liquidity, it seems the company’s Cobalt and G5 compact cars have saved the Lordstown area from spiraling into destruction. Employees and residents know how lucky they are to have the only GM plant in the U.S. that makes compact cars.

"The influx of people in our area is good for everybody, not just displaced auto workers," Lordstown Mayor Michael Chaffee said.

The addition of the third shift and the Cruze is expected to add a total 2,380 new jobs to the region, including the 1,400 direct jobs at the plant that had 3,000 workers before the added shift.

Competition for the new jobs is high, since they will pay about $26.65 an hour, including benefits, for entry workers. This is good pay for the area. Many of the new openings will go to union workers who have been laid off from other GM plants outside the area, reducing the chances for local hires. All applicants for UAW jobs must have a referral from a current worker at the plant.

Click here to read the full story from the Wall Street Journal.