The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 1:00 am

Budget cut could hurt Ohio project

Trump plan kills loan program Lordstown needs

TOM KRISHER and JOHN SEEWER | Associated Press

DETROIT – The Trump administration's budget proposal scraps a loan program that could help an upstart electric vehicle company's plans to reuse the now-closed General Motors factory in Lordstown, Ohio.

In a summary of the budget for the coming fiscal year, the administration said Monday it wants to eliminate the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, which was created in 2007 to foster development of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Lordstown Motors Corp., a new venture that's trying to reopen the former Lordstown GM factory east of Cleveland to build electric trucks, is considering asking for a $200 million from the loan fund. It's also getting a $40 million loan from GM.

But it's not clear just yet whether the loan program's demise would cut off money for Lordstown Motors. There are still just over seven months left in the current budget year, and the program still has more than $17 billion available to loan, according to the Department of Energy, which runs the program.

Lordstown Motors said Monday that is has not yet applied for the loan and that it is just one of several financing options under review.

“We will factor this new information into our decision-making process, but our business model stands on its own without it,” the company said in a statement.

Eliminating the program could be problematic for President Donald Trump, who campaigned on bringing back manufacturing jobs to Ohio, a key state in his reelection campaign. Trump lambasted GM for plans to close the Lordstown plant and then praised the new electric truck venture.

According to a summary of Trump's budget plan, the administration wants to eliminate the loan program and others because the private sector should have a primary role in taking risks on new commercial projects.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat who represents the area and has been helping Lordstown Motors with the loan application, said he plans on talking with the Trump administration and is optimistic

“I can't see why they wouldn't want to be a part of this,” Ryan said Monday.

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