Barring a deal with the UAW during contract talks next year, the Lordstown area stands to suffer the most severe economic consequences among the latest group of communities GM could abandon. As with Janesville, many jobs in surrounding Trumbull County are at least indirectly tied to the plant, whose relative isolation means it’s the largest — in some cases the only — customer of many nearby suppliers.
“The recovery process is painful, and there is no easy, quick or singular solution,” said James Otterstein, economic development manager for the Rock County Development Alliance in Wisconsin. “Plus, the recovery will not resolve underlying socioeconomic issues that already exist. Therefore, not everyone will experience the recovery’s lift in the same manner.”
Otterstein said communities experiencing the kind of job losses that Janesville did need to be “strategic, yet realistic” in executing a plan to fill the void. “Rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel,” he said, “find out what’s worked in other locations and then rightsize it for your community.”
Lordstown officials will undoubtedly look to Janesville for guidance as they prepare for life after GM. That 500-mile separation that made the plants feel like they were in two different worlds a decade ago turned out to be not far at all.