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First part of GM settlement to bear fruit

The first fruits of a settlement agreement between Ohio and General Motors are starting to come to bloom — as part of job training efforts in the Mahoning Valley.

In an agreement struck after the automaker pulled out of Lordstown in 2019, breaking job creation and retention tax credit contracts, GM agreed to pay back about $40 million of the $60.3 million it had received in tax breaks to retool its former assembly plant in Lordstown. Of that, $12 million was dedicated for use in the Mahoning Valley.

As part of the negotiated agreement to make up for that loss, GM committed $5 million to Youngstown State University for workforce development in partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College and funding to create the YSU Energy Storage Innovation and Training Center.

Also in the settlement pact, Lordstown Village will receive $3 million for the design and construction of a new water tower to enhance service and add capacity for future growth; Eastgate Regional Council of Governments receives $2.5 million for infrastructure improvements to prepare for economic growth and new jobs, including the development of a proposed Lordstown Smart Transit Corridor along state Route 45 into Warren; and the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition will receive $1.5 million to support community workforce skills development in support industries that will develop as a result of investments. MVMC will partner with America Makes and BRITE Energy Innovators.

The settlement also required the automaker to repay $28 million in tax credits to Ohio.

GM is to complete the $12 million investment and refund the $28 million by the end of 2022.

This week, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the university, through its Center for Workforce Education and Innovation, intends to use some of the funds to invest in programs and services focusing on inclusion and equality to best serve the unemployed and underemployed.

“We need to remove the barriers to help those individuals to compete and to win in what we call the race to employability,” said Jennifer Oddo, executive director of strategic workforce education and innovation at YSU.

Additionally, some of the money also will be spent on the creation of the YSU Energy Storage Innovation and Training Center to support emerging technology industries in the Mahoning Valley by helping provide a capable workforce.

We are thrilled to see this well-deserved money coming to our area, and we are even more pleased to see it being targeted to help fund programs and services that zero in on equality for the underemployed.

Some of the money also will go to the creation of the YSU Energy Storage Innovation and Training Center to support emerging technology industries here by helping to train potential workers.

Although the innovation and training center is still in the concept and development stage, our business writer Ron Selak Jr. reports that Tressel envisions a brick-and-mortar facility closer to Voltage Valley. Of course, Voltage Valley is the exciting new name being given to Trumbull and Mahoning counties because of the investments in energy storage and electric vehicle industries.

Ground zero for Voltage Valley is Lordstown, where General Motors is partnering with South Korea’s LG Chem to build a $2.3 billion plant to mass produce electric vehicle battery cells and where Lordstown Motors Corp. is preparing to launch its electric truck, the Endurance, from where GM made automobiles for 53 years.

The investments coming here as part of the tax settlement will assist in continuing to make our Mahoning Valley a developing hub for technology and electric vehicle manufacturing.

We have no reason to believe that GM won’t continue to build and grow its relationship with Ohio and, more specifically, with Trumbull County and the Mahoning Valley. Indeed, we expect the upcoming new Ultium Cells LLC battery-cell manufacturing plant to play a critical role in GM’s evolution to all-electric vehicle manufacturing.

The payback of these funds by GM is just the beginning of what we hope will be a continued long relationship.

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