Here’s what JobsOhio’s top automotive exec said about GM

Incentives and last-minute negotiations would not have protected the General Motors Lordstown Assembly plant, a JobsOhio executive told the Dayton Daily News.

Kristi Tanner, senior managing director for automotive at JobsOhio, the state’s private development corporation, said she and others spoke with GM decision-makers Sunday, before GM announced its plans Monday to shut down five North American plants.

By that point, though, the decision had been made.

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“It wasn’t a matter of incentives,” Tanner said in an interview Tuesday.

In Lordstown, the plant of about 1,600 workers does not have a vehicle slated for future production, endangering the plant’s future, much as the GM-SUV assembly plant in Moraine was endangered a decade ago when GM declined to allocate a future product to that plant.

The realignment GM announced Monday is wide-ranging and affects much more than just Lordstown and the Chevrolet Cruze, Tanner noted. But she said at this point, there is no product GM can allocate to the Lordstown plant.

“It is not a permanent closure at this point — the permanent disposition of the facility won’t be determined until some point in the future,” Tanner said.

Tanner should be a familiar name in the Dayton area. By all accounts, she was instrumental in bringing Fuyao Global Chairman Cho Tak Wong to the former GM plant in Moraine. Cho bought that plant for $15 million in 2014, and today, Fuyao Glass America has 2,300 workers there.

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Cho– also known by his Mandarin name of Cao DeWang — and Tanner worked well together. Cho invited her to the opening of a Fuyao plant in Russia in 2013.

The automotive sector is still important to Ohio, Tanner said. The industry has more than 108,000 Ohio workers and contributes about $14.5 billion to the state economy.

But at least some suppliers across Ohio almost certainly will feel an impact. The Lordstown plant produced about 130,000 Cruze vehicles last year, Tanner said.

“That’s not a small number,” she said. “There certainly will be an impact on those suppliers who supply that facility.”

Over the years, the Kettering Tenneco plant supplied shock absorbers and struts for models such as Chevrolet Camaro, Cruze, HHR and Volt, as well as the Buick Regal and LaCrosse.

But a Tenneco spokesman said Tuesday that the company’s Kettering plant does not supply GM’s Lordstown facility.

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GM is a 60 percent co-owner in the Dryden Road DMAX truck engine plant, which employs nearly 800 people. (A GM spokeswoman said Monday GM’s decisions will not affect DMAX.)

And the sector is widespread — about 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties have some kind of auto manufacturing business.

GM will have about 5,000 employees in the state when the Lordstown plant closes, less than half of Honda’s approximately 13,000 employees, Tanner said.

In 1995, General Motors employed more than 63,000 people in Ohio but as of 2017, that number had declined to fewer than 10,000, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

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