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Trump’s Manufacturing Promises Disappoint as Economy Sours


Last month, Mr. Trump invited Steve Burns, the chief executive of Lordstown Motors, to the White House to herald the company’s new electric pickup truck. The visit was intended to celebrate Mr. Trump’s role as a jobs savior. In 2019, he successfully compelled General Motors to sell a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that it was planning to shutter to Lordstown Motors, an upstart car manufacturer. The plan was meant to avert about 1,600 layoffs.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority said it was requiring G.M. to repay $28 million in tax credits and invest $12 million in the Mahoning Valley because of its decision to close the Lordstown assembly plant. It was awarded the tax credits in 2008 on the condition that it would employ 3,700 workers in the city for 20 years.

After the sale, some of the General Motors employees took jobs at other plants, but the Lordstown Motors factory currently employs only about 50 engineers. Mr. Burns has said that he plans to hire 600 more workers next year and then ramp up staffing significantly in 2022.

Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said the new company was a welcome development but criticized Mr. Trump for not doing more to protect workers at the original G.M. plant, which produced the Chevrolet Cruze. Many of that plant’s workers have been forced to commute to other states for new jobs, and it remains unclear what kind of wages will be offered at the factory once it gets up and running. He said Mr. Trump’s attention had already shifted, leaving workers to hope the jobs materialize.

“He comes in with his bluster and makes promises, but then the workers have to fend for themselves,” Mr. Brown said in an interview.

Mr. Trump’s powers of persuasion have at times had only a partial effect. In 2016, before he took office, Mr. Trump pressured United Technologies, the parent company of the heating and cooling giant Carrier, to keep an Indianapolis factory open and not move the jobs to Mexico. With a mix of threats and incentives, the company agreed to keep the plant open, saving more than 700 jobs. However, in 2017 and 2018 Carrier cut about 500 jobs from that factory, moving those roles to Mexico.



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