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Your Morning Matters: When RIDE gets taken for a ride

On June 21, the Mahoning Valley's first Zoup! Eatery will open at 1315 Boardman-Canfield Road.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters — with reporter Justin Dennis.

It's Friday, June 11, 2021, and I’m not a financial adviser. I’m just a local reporter who learned more than he ever wanted to about the stock market so that Mahoning Matters could report on Lordstown Motors as a publicly traded company.

And this year — heck, this week alone — has been quite the “RIDE” for that electric vehicle startup. Various media reports pushed the stock down, then lifted it back up. The stock dove WAY down in March after reports of potential fraud. The near-constant hum of media buzz around Lordstown Motors and affiliate Workhorse Group entices moneymen to speculate whether they can make a buck off the stock while it’s on its way up or its way down.

Whether or not you believe in Lordstown Motors’ mission to have the first fully electric pickup truck on the market, its success is tied to our greater fortunes. I bet it’s easy for top-level money reporters to cover a company’s public tumult from the other side of the country. To them, Lordstown Motors doesn’t represent the return of vehicle manufacturing jobs to a county with the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the state, or the various other humans a new local job creator could support. Earlier this week, I talked to two 20-something engineering grads forced to move out of the Valley to find work or a proper wage. What brought them back was GM’s Ultium Cells LLC electric vehicle battery plant, now hiring in Lordstown. Just as the big steel jobs of yore did for our grandparents, the two said they can now build a family off their earnings, while staying “close to home.” 

As financial media reported the next day, traders handling 31 percent of Lordstown Motors’ available stock have bet the startup will fail. “I think selling short ... is an effective way to profit from a company that is headed for bankruptcy,” wrote one Forbes contributor this week, while also advising not to bet against Lordstown. “However, a short squeeze along the lines of what happened with GameStop and Clover Health strikes me as possible with Lordstown,” he wrote. 

Rising stock prices are obviously good news for Lordstown Motors, but the means simply echo more volatility. To most shareholders, it’s all just a game. "The whole concept of shorting seems [screwed] up," wrote one Redditor on Wednesday, in response to the Forbes article. "It encourages making money off failure, which in turn creates an incentive for the company to fail. ... It’s just really hard to make new technology and it’s infinitely more difficult when you’ve got people making money off of every hurdle you hit and trying to tank the company over it," that person continued.

Another Redditor on Wednesday invoked Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders: “Never bet against America,” he said. Specifically, the Redditor was referring to the American labor Lordstown Motors represents. So in that vein, I’ll say: “Don’t bet against the Mahoning Valley.” Not that you’ll necessarily lose, just ... don’t. Please. We could use a few more good news stories around here.

Now, here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

On the way home from a trip to Cleveland about two years ago, Youngstown natives Jim and Hope Fossesca, in search of a convenient lunch spot, stopped at a Zoup! Eatery in Solon. While enjoying their bowls of soup, both were scrolling on their phones. 

Unbeknownst to the other, they were both looking up franchise opportunities for the fast-casual soup spot. On June 21, the couple will open the Mahoning Valley's first Zoup! Eatery at 1315 Boardman-Canfield Road. Jess Hardin has the details.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 33,426,302 confirmed cases; 598,716 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 8 p.m. June 10.
  • In Ohio: 1,106,064 confirmed or suspected cases; 20,021 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,207,495 confirmed cases; 27,438 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 22,315 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 16,512 in Trumbull; and 9,009 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 34,466.24, up 19.10 points, or 0.055 percent.

Other matters

Looking for something to do this weekend? Don't forget our events listings — now even more robust! And in Weekend Matters, we are calling your attention to a new exhibit at The Butler Institute of American Art, a benefit presentation of “A Musical Journey Thru Jazz" and a special service Sunday to honor 135 couples whose total years of marriage is 6,565 years. Mahoning Matters

Attorney David Betras has been in the news lately, and today he explains how the playing field between prosecutors and defendants is balanced, noting, "The old saying that a prosecutor can convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich is basically true." Mahoning Matters

For the first time since Gallup started tracking Americans’ views on gay marriage, a majority of Republicans say they support it. Mahoning Matters

An email to students from President Susan Wajert says Mercy College will close its Associate of Applied Science in Nursing Program in Youngstown effective Dec. 31, 2023. WFMJ

Photos of black bears are becoming more common on Valley social media pages, as people are spotting them around the area. Sightings in Canfield and Austintown made news this week. WKBN

Youngstown's Board of Control approved nearly $60,000 in relief grants to small businesses that took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Business Journal [May require registration.]

Steve Kent, a school resource officer for the Poland Township Police Department who also is an Austintown Township trustee, is on unpaid administrative leave from his law enforcement job while a state agency looks into an alleged crime. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

In case you missed it

Following Lordstown Motors on NASDAQ has been quite the RIDE lately. Some internet day-trading die-hards are holding up RIDE as a “meme stock” — an investment into a struggling company like GameStop or AMC, whose stocks made headlines earlier this year for their bleak outlooks followed by meteoric rises led by retail-trading denizens of the Reddit board WallStreetBets. Justin Dennis has the details. Mahoning Matters

Your comments matter

“It’s OK! Someone needs to start treating food workers better.”

Donna Carson, on Chipotle increasing menu prices after raising hourly wages for employees to an average of $15 per hour.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

Event of the day

Opera Western Reserve is returning to live performances with back-to-back events at the DeYor Performing Arts Center, 260 W. Federal St. There will be two performances of "The Three Little Pigs" children's opera at 4:30 and 6 p.m. in the outdoor garden. Families can bring blankets or chairs and a picnic. The performances are free, but tickets are required to ensure social distancing. At 8 p.m., the Big, Baaad Cabaret will feature soprano Randa Rouweyha and tenor Jesus Daniel. The performance will feature songs ranging from opera arias to Broadway favorites. Tickets for the cabaret are $35. VIP tickets are $55. To order tickets, click here or call 330-259-0555 or 330-259-9651.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at

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Justin Dennis

About the Author: Justin Dennis

Justin Dennis has been on the beat since 2011, covering crime, courts and public education. Dennis grew up in Poland and Salem and studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.
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