Tuesday, June 18, 2013

GE Aviation announces proposed Asheville expansion in sweeping industry transformation

In conjunction with the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC), GE Aviation, a world-leading producer of commercial and military jet engines, announced plans for a multi-billion dollar, nationwide investment to revolutionize jet propulsion.  This investment will usher in new technology, design, and materials that will make GE jet engines the industry standard for efficiency, while simultaneously reducing emissions.   

Buncombe County is among four North Carolina counties partnering to attract over $195 million in potential new statewide investment by GE Aviation to accommodate the adoption of new technologies.  The expansion opportunity across four counties and three municipalities has initiated a series of coordinated, public economic development processes expected to conclude in Summer 2013 with a statewide announcement.  Buncombe County and the City of Asheville have worked closely with GE Aviation to retain and expand local production capabilities to accommodate production of the revolutionary aircraft engine material known as Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC).   Local expansion would bring a company investment of $126,000,000 in new, taxable capital equipment, and require the addition of 52 new positions to its current workforce of 300 in a new flagship facility in Sweeten Creek Industrial Park.   

The multi-year transformation of the company’s products and workplace involved analysis and competition among 12 states in a nationwide review of site locations with the strongest historical performance, requisite workforce and optimum logistics to support the new strategic product direction. The formal announcement anticipated later this summer will cap a 70-year legacy for Western North Carolina’s only “Fortune 10” manufacturer and ensure its continued expansion for future generations.  The company formerly did business as NCI and Smiths Aerospace before acquisition into the GE family in 2008. 

GE Aviation pioneered the development of Ceramic Matrix Composites, or CMCs, which are expected to be the mainstay of the next generation of jet engines.  The materials can outperform advanced metallic alloys and make jet engines lighter, more fuel efficient and cut emissions dramatically.  Research demonstrates a jet engine constructed using CMC materials can reduce fuel consumption by 15%, resulting in annual fuel savings of over $1 million per plane.  Aircraft powered by GE jet engines take flight every two seconds around the world, with demand for CMC components anticipated to increase tenfold over the next decade.   

“We are excited about the opportunity for Asheville to become the manufacturing center for this groundbreaking technology,” said Michael Meguiar, Asheville Plant Leader for GE Aviation. “It’s a tremendous vote of confidence in our local workforce and demonstrates the great potential for our area to be integrally involved in the new technology.”    

“This milestone opportunity to participate in one of the most innovative industry transformations in decades inspired us to compete wisely to cement Asheville as a hub of high-tech advanced manufacturing.” stated EDC Board Chairman Paul Szurek.  “We believe this potential expansion will have a generational impact.”

“I’m proud to see Buncombe County seize this moment in our national economy, supporting a long-time local employer and one of the nation’s largest corporate citizens,” said David Gantt, Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.  “The expansion will mean not only hundreds of jobs for our citizens, but position our community as a leader in the green economy.”

Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy noted, “Our work with GE Aviation is exemplary of the partnership of good business with good governance.  It is always an honor for Asheville to be recognized as a leader within the business world.  I wish Michael Meguiar and the entire team at GE Aviation continued success in growing its business.” 

This proposed investment in GE Aviation’s facility and equipment would generate $1.2M annually in new city and county property tax receipts. Following successful conclusion of the statewide public process, without which the project will not move forward, the new manufacturing facility will sustain over 750 direct, indirect and induced local jobs, $34M in annual income, and another $4.3M in annual state and local taxes essential to the fiscal health of our region.   For more information on GE Aviation and employment opportunities, please visit www.geaviation.com.

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