The Geospring Hybrid Water Heater will be produced at GE's Appliance Park in Louisville. | Photo courtesy of GE
GE has a long history in Louisville, Ky.
The company's appliance and lighting facility in Louisville has been manufacturing appliances for more than 50 years. Like many facilities, it has seen its share of ups-and-downs. Now, after a tough couple of years, the "Appliance Park" facility is making a "manufacturing" comeback -- with the help of the Recovery Act.
The plant retooling project, partially funded through a 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit of $24.8 million, is expected to result in more than 800 jobs in the area by 2013.
"There's been a net loss of manufacturing jobs over the last ten years. This is having a huge impact on bringing some of those jobs back," says Earl Jones, senior counsel at GE. "There's a big need in this community for work."
Jones points to the ability to expand manufacturing and add new appliances to bring these jobs to Appliance Park.
Old building – modern manufacturing
The six, Louisville GE buildings - five of which are nearly one million square feet - show signs of wear. Much of the upgrade work will be spent on improving the interior and making a modern, efficient space inside the existing 1950s shell.
The hybrid water heaters, which had previously been manufactured in China, will go into production at Appliance Park in mid-2011. GE estimates this will create nearly 400 jobs. "It's not only satisfying for the community, it's energizing the workforce. This facility has a big focus on energy efficiency," says Jones.According to Jones, GE Appliance and Lighting will be adding three new products to the Louisville plant: GeoSpring Hybrid water heaters, front load washers and front load dryers. The company expects to begin producing the high-end GE Profile frontload washing machines that meet 2014 ENERGY STAR standards in 2012 for the washer and 2013 for the dryer. These products will incorporate smart-grid technology and go into production in 2012.
In addition, GE will redesign dishwasher lines at Louisville and has already brought in or in-sourced parts for appliances. Jones says that dishwasher manufacturing is the largest plant by way of employment.
As for GE, Jones says the project has really sparked a boost in morale. "When developments like this occur in an established facility like this, it opens your eyes to other possibilities, and what you can look forward to in the future."