Editorial: A promising future at Ohio Assembly


A recent editorial by the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram:

Ford Country is about to get a lot bigger in Lorain County.

That welcome news is thanks to a massive expansion planned for Ford Motor Co.’s Ohio Assembly Plant, where the automaker intends to build a new electric commercial vehicle. To do so, Ford will invest $1.5 billion in the 419-acre plant.

It also plans to hire an additional 1,800 workers for good-paying union jobs, more than doubling the current workforce of 1,771 employees at the plant, which straddles Avon Lake, Sheffield and Sheffield Lake.

Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue, a division of the company focused on its traditional vehicles, said the new vehicle would be available by the middle of the decade, with work on the plant starting much sooner.

“You will see shovels in the ground later this year,” Galhotra told Ford workers assembled at the plant Thursday for the company’s announcement of its plans.

All of this promises to be a huge boon for the county, especially because it comes a little more than a year after Ford pulled back on plans to build a “next generation” vehicle at Ohio Assembly. The company had promised to invest roughly $900 million in the plant and create 1,500 new jobs.

As much as the company’s new plans came as a relief for Lorain County, they also provided good news in other communities. In total, Ford intends to add 6,200 jobs in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio as part of a $3.7 billion investment over the next four years.

It’s part of the company’s shift toward electric vehicles, which are growing in popularity. For instance, Ford had to stop taking reservations for its new F-150 Lightning pickup because of high demand.

Ford is hardly alone in looking to transition away from the internal combustion engine. Other automakers are revving up production of electric vehicles as well. That transition would be good for the environment and should decrease American reliance on gasoline, which has soared in price thanks in part to the war in Ukraine.

… The long-term viability of the plant has been called into question in the past, including when Ford has closed plants and relocated products over the years. Among the plants it closed was the Lorain Assembly Plant.

There’s also the broader economic impact of such a massive expansion of the plant to consider. Galhotra estimated that each Ford job would help create another 12 to 14 jobs in the local economy

Another issue that hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet is the $200 million in incentives Ohio is offering Ford for its investments in the state. In addition to the $1.5 billion the company is planning to invest at Ohio Assembly and the 1,800 jobs it is planning to create there, it plans to spend $100 million on upgrades at plants in Lima and Sharonville, creating another 90 jobs.

DeWine said he would provide details on the incentive package at a later date. He similarly delayed providing details on the roughly $2 billion that the state is giving Intel for a $20 billion project in central Ohio.

There should be no delay in sharing the specifics of such deals with taxpayers, who will be footing the bill.

Nevertheless, DeWine was right when he pronounced Thursday “a good day for Lorain County.”

It will be an even better day when the first new vehicle rolls off the line.

— Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, June 3