GE Aviation Planning to Expand West Jefferson Facility

From the Ashe Mountain Times:

     GE Aviation will expand its operations at four locations across the state, including West Jefferson. That expected news was made official Tuesday in a joint announcement by the company and NC Governor Pat McCrory. According to McCrory and NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker, the project will create as many as 242 new jobs across the state, including more than 100 in Ashe County. The expansion is expected to bring in $195 million in capital investment through 2017. "Part of our state's economic recovery not only relies on creating new jobs here, but also on retaining great companies like GE," said McCrory. "We're serious about building on existing industries in North Carolina and this project is a perfect example of our commitment."

     The announcement follows state and local incentive packages awarded to GE, including a Job Development Investment Grant offered by the North Carolina Economic Investment Committee, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Receipt of the award is based on proof of job creation and other performance requirements, according to a release, and are awarded only to new and "expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state, and which would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the grant." GE will be eligible to receive 12 annual grants equal to 75 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings from the eligible new jobs created since the date of the initial award, according to the release, but only after state-certified proof the company has fulfilled incremental job creation requirements. "Over 12 years, the JDIG award could yield aggregate benefits to GE Aviation of up to $3.57 million," according to the release.

Nearly $1.9 million in funds from GE's JDIG award could also be added to the state's utility fund to encourage infrastructure improvements in North Carolina's economically distressed counties, according to the release. As much as $1.25 million in performance-grant funding was also secured from the One North Carolina Fund, contingent upon proof of job creation and receipt of a local funding match.

On June 3, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners and the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a combined $1.2 million local incentive package to assist GE in the expansion of its West Jefferson facility.  Commissioners approved $585,000 with West Jefferson funding the balance of $615,000, which will reportedly result in at least $56 million in taxable investment over the next five years, an 80,000-square-foot expansion at GE's Ray Taylor Road facility and the creation of 105 new jobs. The proposed investment would also allow for increased capacity to assume additional GE machining work. Compensation for the new positions will vary by job function, according to the company, but average annual wage will be $47,942 in addition to benefits. Ashe County's median household income is approximately $36,500 per year. The nine-year joint board incentive package is based on investment and job creation, with the company meeting certain benchmarks through 2021, according to Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell. Local incentives would be paid between 2014 and 2020, while all of the company’s investment and job creation would occur by the end of 2017. “Basically, we will receive more taxes from the company than what we give them in incentives over the course of the agreement,” Mitchell said. “We have been working with GE Aviation for nearly six months. We have found them to be very positive about our community and the local workforce, along with being appreciative of the county and town’s efforts to move this project forward.” Mitchell said GE is the type of company Ashe County is interested in growing locally because of the strength of their market, the salaries and benefits offered to employees, and the company’s role as “good corporate citizens in the community.” “We feel it’s an ideal match and believe that the incentive package is a necessary and positive step in helping the company reach a decision to expand here in West Jefferson.”

GE Aviation will produce advanced ceramic matrix composite engine components at its new Asheville facility, which should result in the enhanced performance and improved durability of engines, which leads to lower fuel and maintenance costs for customers, according to the company. “GE has been investing in CMC technology for decades, and we are mastering the manufacturing of CMCs at our laboratory in Delaware. Asheville will be our first factory involved in the mass production of CMC components,” President and CEO of GE Aviation David Joyce said. “We believe the future Asheville plant will be on the ground floor of a new technology that will change aviation." GE Aviation employs approximately 40,000 people and operates more than 80 facilities worldwide.