YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Federal lawmakers said Tuesday they are confident that Congress will restore funding for a loan program that could benefit Lordstown Motors Corp.
President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget, released Monday, eliminated the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program through the Department of Energy, which helps companies retool facilities to build electric vehicles.
Lordstown Motors, which plans to manufacture electric pickup trucks at the former General Motors Lordstown plant, is exploring applying for a $200 million loan through the program.
Despite Trump’s intentions, both U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said they believed the program would be funded again.
“Probably. It has been in the past,” Portman, R-Ohio, told Ohio reporters on the conference call Tuesday afternoon. “I continue to support the program so we’ll see what happens.”
The Trump administration has attempted to eliminate the program over the past three years “but Congress has rejected those efforts,” Portman spokeswoman Emmalee Kalmbach clarified in an email following the call.
“While no new loans have been issued recently, there remains an active portfolio of loans worth about $4.3 billion,” she continued. Portman “will continue to urge the Department of Energy to give Lordstown Motors’ application its fullest consideration,” she said.
Ryan, D-13 Ohio, likewise “is optimistic that the funding will be included in the final government funding bill,” the congressman’s spokesman, Michael Zetts, said in an email.
According to media reports, the program has more than $9 billion to lend out.
“The president’s proposal only impacts the program if it gets eliminated in the final government funding bill. Congressman Ryan is hopeful that he will be able to use his position on the House Appropriations Committee to ensure that the program continues,” Zetts said.
Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns told Reuters in January that his company was considering a $200 million loan from the program. Company representatives have not confirmed that figure but have said they are raising in excess of $300 million to launch operations at the plant.
As yet, the company has not made a loan application. In the wake of Trump’s proposed budget, a spokesman said the company would “factor this new information into our decision-making process, but our business model stands on its own without it.”
“I don’t believe they think it’s a program that fits them perfectly,” Portman said. “It’s more for late-stage [companies] rather than a startup, but we’re looking for help to be able to ensure that we can get that plant up and going again.”
Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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