Under the terms of the program, GM was required to keep the plant open until 2028 to qualify for $46.1 million of the breaks, and until 2037 to receive the remaining $14.2 million.
The decision falls to the Ohio Development Services Agency, which is set to meet on the matter next month.
Ohio hasn’t closed the door entirely on letting GM keep the money, despite its threat to claw back the cash. The state told GM earlier this year that it would consider several factors, including changes in market conditions and the automaker’s other Ohio investments, in making its decision.
That suggests the state may let GM keep the money, according to Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, a national nonprofit that tracks economic development incentives offered by state and local governments and is critical of most such programs.
LeRoy opposes such a move. “The $60 million is a much bigger number to the state of Ohio than it is to General Motors,” he said.
Failure to save the Lordstown plant
GM closed the Lordstown plant after the collapse in demand for the small car, the Cruze, that it built there. It no longer sells the car at US dealerships.
“That was a decision we didn’t like making but it was important because customers weren’t interested in those vehicles any longer,” said GM CEO Mary Barra on recent interview on CNBC.
The union has offered no opinion on whether GM should keep or return the $60 million.
GM received additional tax breaks for many of those Ohio plants, and the joint venture battery plant has applied for tax breaks. But the jobs at the battery plant will not pay as well as what GM workers at Lordstown earned.
“Any time you have to make these kinds of transformations it’s hard,” said Barra. “But we’re proud of the investments we’ve made to support the Lordstown community.”
Ohio’s budget strain
LeRoy of Good Jobs First says he is encouraged by Ohio’s demand for money’s return, though he’s concerned that the state may give into GM’s request.
“This would be the biggest clawback of tax breaks that I can think of,” he said. “I assume there’s a lot of pressure on the state administration to cave. I hope they keep the right course.”