Ohio may force GM to repay $60M after it shut down plant

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, snow covers the perimeter of the General Motors' Lordstown plant, in Lordstown, Ohio. The Trump administration’s budget proposal scraps a loan program that could help an upstart electric vehicle company’s plans to reuse the now-closed General Motors factory in Lordstown, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — Ohio officials are considering forcing General Motors to repay $60 million in public incentives because of its decision to close a massive assembly plant near Youngstown.

At issue is an economic development deal from more than a decade ago that gave GM millions in tax breaks in exchange for a promise to keep the Lordstown plant operating at least through 2027.

State officials notified the automaker in March that the plant’s closing last year violated the agreement, The Business Journal in Youngstown reported this week.

Ohio’s threat to claw back the incentives is complicated by GM’s decision build a new electric battery cell factory next to the site of the much larger assembly plant it shut down in March 2019 after more than 50 years of production.

The battery plant will create about 1,100 jobs, while GM employed 4,500 workers at the assembly plant when it was running three shifts a few years ago.

GM also agreed to loan $40 million to a startup company that bought its closed assembly plant and wants to make electric pickup trucks there.

“We are respectfully asking the state to consider our belief that a repayment of the tax credits would be inconsistent with our significant manufacturing presence in Ohio and the Mahoning Valley,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement.

GM also responded by telling the state in a letter it should consider that the closing was the result of the small car market collapsing and how it’s now dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, The Business Journal reported.