Pitch GM plant to Amazon

New Yorkers have shunned Amazon’s plans to bring tens of thousands of jobs to that city in the form of HQ2. At the same time, General Motors is preparing to idle its automaking plant here, leaving some 5 million square feet of plant vacant.

As we see it, this presents a clear opportunity for an intersection of innovation and free market.

As GM CEO Mary Barra has said, the Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze no longer is selling at past levels of success. But the electric vehicles she espouses aren’t selling well either — isn’t that the same market that led to the demise of the Chevy Volt? Further, plans for autonomous vehicles remain years away, and frankly, we can’t wait for the potential to manufacture them here.

That’s why we urge Barra and GM to consider a bold move to offer the help Barra pledged in a recent letter to Mahoning Valley school children who anxiously reached out to her.

“We’re working hard to continue finding ways to support them and your community,” Barra responded to children at Lordstown Elementary School.

Well, here’s her chance.

If GM isn’t going to build cars here, why not strike a deal with JobsOhio to transfer the Lordstown GM facility to that state economic development agency and ultimately to Amazon?

Call it re-purposing. Call it GM’s parting gift to us. Call it a development plan that just might work.

Consider:

We will have vast amounts of power to locate a server farm here, thanks largely to the Lordstown Energy Center and the future Trumbull Energy Center.

The GM property, comprised of more than 400 acres, would be more than sufficient space to establish a headquarters, data center and distribution center in one campus.

An Ohio Turnpike exit ramp exists to bring in people from nearby cities like Cleveland or Pittsburgh — and send shipments out.

Rail lines also link Lordstown to Cleveland and Pittsburgh that also could be used for both commuters and shipping.

Further, dozens of universities and colleges are located within an hour of this site. The workforce will come. And, of course, the cost of living is very affordable here and much land for housing exists at prices that are right.

Finally, if this could come to fruition, we would urge the Western Reserve Port Authority to also get on board by offering to convert YNG, an airport with no regularly scheduled commercial flights and a board that continues to vow to work for economic development for our area — into a public-private partnership for use by Amazon.

We do not pretend to be site selectors nor logistics or real estate geniuses. However, having chronicled the multitude of assets in this Valley over the last 100 years, we suggest this re-purposing opportunity as one of unparalleled stature.

Instead of looking for reasons why this wouldn’t work, why not ask ‘Why not?’

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