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Trump’s manufacturing promises disappoint as economy deteriorates

Last month, Mr. Trump invited Steve Burns, chief executive of Lordstown Motors, to the White House to announce the company’s new electric pickup truck. The visit was aimed at celebrating Mr. Trump’s role as a job saver. In 2019, he successfully coerced General Motors into selling a factory in Lordstown, Ohio, which it planned to close to Lordstown Motors, an upstart automaker. The plan aimed to avoid around 1,600 layoffs.

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The Ohio Tax Credit Authority said it was forcing GM to repay $ 28 million in tax credits and invest $ 12 million in the Mahoning Valley due to its decision to shut down the assembly plant in Lordstown. It got the tax credits in 2008 on the condition that it employs 3,700 workers in the city for 20 years.

After the sale, some General Motors employees took on jobs at other factories, but the Lordstown Motors factory currently only employs around 50 engineers. Mr Burns said he plans to hire 600 more workers next year and then significantly increase staffing in 2022.

Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown said the new company was a welcome development, but criticized Mr. Trump for not doing more to protect workers at the original GM plant, which produced the Chevrolet Cruze. Many workers at this plant have been forced to travel to other states for new jobs, and it is still unclear what kind of wages will be offered at the GM plant once it is operational. He said Mr. Trump’s attention had already shifted, leaving workers hoping the jobs would materialize.

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

Mr. Trump’s powers of persuasion have sometimes had only a partial effect. In 2016, before taking office, Mr. Trump lobbied United Technologies, the parent company of heating and air conditioning giant Carrier, to keep an Indianapolis plant open and not move 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 around 500 jobs at that factory, moving those roles to Mexico.