GM announcement could mean turnaround for suffering Lordstown, Ohio

'Everything we have is based on General Motors,' a former Lordstown worker said

General Motors announced it will employ 1,100 people with a new electric battery plant in northeast Ohio after shutting down its Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant earlier this year, company CEO Mary Barra told FOX Business' Stuart Varney on Thursday.

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The plant will be a joint venture with South Korea-based LG Chem that will breathe new life into the Lordstown area, which has suffered since GM announced the plant's "unallocation" in 2018.

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"There's a whole host of reasons why we believe in an all-electric future ... We're excited to be working in Ohio," Barra told Varney on Thursday.

Just a few months after Lordstown's fate was sealed, the damage was apparent. The Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University estimated in March that GM's decision cost the region nearly 8,000 jobs and more than $8 billion in overall economic activities.

GM employee Mike Yakim on the picket line in Lordstown, Ohio. (Courtesy of Yakim)

Wages in the area are down even as nationwide numbers rise. Lordstown area wages were down 6 percent since 2008 even though wages rose nationally by 11 percent, The New York Times reported in May.

Veteran GM employee Mike Yakim worked at Lordstown until being transferred to the Lansing Delta Township plant in Michigan. He drove hours to picket at Lordstown while the United Auto Workers were on strike against GM this fall.

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"They tell you, 'Well, we're going to make everybody a job offer.' Well, that's nice, but you have a community here, in my new home of Lordstown, Ohio, that has supported this plant for 52-plus years. … Everything we have is based on General Motors," Yakim told FOX Business while the strike was happening.

In this Tuesday, June 15, 2010, file photo, workers at General Motors' Lordstown Assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, put the final touches on Chevy Cobalts. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

"You're decimating a community," he said, referring to the plant unallocation.

That community includes students -- the Lordstown Local School District initiated cutbacks in hopes of saving $200,000 in March for the next school year, The Tribune Chronicle reported. The district anticipated losing students as their parents transfer to other GM facilities or seek jobs elsewhere.

Lordstown's luck is turning, however.

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GM sold the shuttered Lordstown facility to a startup electric truck maker in November.

The 6.2-million-square-foot plant opened in 1966. GM spent $50 million upgrading the plant as recently as 2014.

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FOX Business' James Leggate contributed to this report.