GE's Appliance Park, in Louisville, KY - once the largest appliance manufacturing facility in the world - is reversing "decades of outsourcing" with today's official opening of its first new manufacturing plant to open on the site since 1957. It is one of the first of several U.S. manufacturing projects - with an investment total of $1 billion - initiated by GE Appliances since 2009.
The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater manufacturing facility officially opened on February 10, 2012, after a $38 million investment in the new product and a revitalized manufacturing facility.
Of the $1 billion planned investments in U.S. GE Appliance plants, $800 million is targeted at the Louisville area. GE expects to create 1300 new U.S. jobs by 2014. GE said its investments at Appliance Park created hundreds of skilled salaried jobs in engineering, industrial design, and manufacturing, and other skilled positions.
"To reverse decades of outsourcing by bringing new, industry-leading products and jobs back to the U.S. takes tremendous cooperation, imagination, courage and plain hard work by a lot of people," said GE Appliances President and CEO Charles "Chip" Blankenship. "I want to thank our local union, our employees, government, and company officials for having and executing a vision that is bringing these jobs to Appliance Park and creating a bright future for our business."
The early versions of the new Hybrid water heater were made in China. GE implemented new lean manufacturing techniques and organized a more competitive wage structure for new employees in order to justify bringing full-scale manufacturing to the United States. GE said the appliance can now be made more competitively in the United States.
The GeoSpring was the first GE Appliances product designed and built using Lean manufacturing. The Lean process uses a cross-functional team, including hourly manufacturing workers, to design the product and the manufacturing process. It helps increase the operation's competitiveness by identifying and removing waste in materials and work effort often found in traditional manufacturing.
The new plant also benefited from $17 million in incentives from state and local governments. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has given high priority to developing and incentivizing energy-related development in the state.
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