Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

After tax cuts, state incentives and Trump rhetoric, the local car factory is still cutting a shift.

On June 22, General Motors announced that it’s bringing back the Chevy Blazer, a classic SUV that hasn’t been made in over 10 years.

But there’s one catch – the new Blazer will be built in Mexico.

The announcement came on the same day that the entire second shift at the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio was eliminated, laying off 1,500 employees. The third shift was cut last year, which laid off more than 1,000 employees.

Needless to say, General Motors didn’t have the best timing on this announcement. Hopefully their PR person realized that after they were criticized for “adding insult to economic injury.”

The Lordstown facility makes the Chevy Cruze, a once best-selling car, but its sales have declined recently. GM cited the shift in consumer demand from smaller compact cars (like the Cruze) to larger crossover vehicles (like the Blazer) as the reason for the layoffs. The reboot of the Blazer is the company’s attempt to capture part of the increased demand for SUVs.

Lordstown, located just outside Youngstown in the Mahoning Valley, is no stranger to economic plight, being part of the Rust Belt (although I prefer to affectionately call it the “industrial heartland”) that has struggled with the decline of manufacturing in recent years. The economic impact of the recent layoffs will certainly be substantial, considering that GM is one of the largest employers in the Youngstown area.

President Trump (who is known to bash companies on Twitter and take credit for “saving jobs”) has been noticeably quiet about General Motors’ plans to build the vehicle in Mexico. Trump made jobs one of the key issues of his campaign, and many argue that his promises appealed to white working class voters and won him victories in key states – namely Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Just last year, President Trump held a campaign rally in Youngstown where he promised to bring back jobs six times in one speech. Now that workers there have lost their jobs, he’s nowhere to be found. It’s almost like he only wants to take the credit when it looks good for him.

Among those who haven’t been so quiet about General Motors’ decision is just the Ohioan you would expect: Senator Sherrod Brown.

On the Senate floor, Brown spoke about the importance of the Lordstown plant to the Mahoning Valley. He slammed General Motors for its decision to build the Blazer in Mexico after receiving federal tax cuts and millions of dollars in tax incentives from Ohio, and he urged the company to invest in American workers.

I agree with the Senator – it’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating that General Motors is offshoring production when they could be investing in American workers.

The Chevy Blazer is scheduled to go on sale early next year – but you can bet that I won’t be buying it.