General Electric has begun making front-loading washers and matching dryers with about 200 new production workers on the line at Appliance Park in Louisville, the company said Monday. The addition of two assembly lines for the washers and dryers completes a three-year transformation resulting in six additional products and 3,000 new jobs at the sprawling 60-year-old factory, GE said.
GE Canada’s Peterborough plant is building large motors for customers in far off destinations in Asia and Africa. A 28-megawatt Synchronous generator was designed at the plant and is being built there to be shipped to an offshore oil platform in Africa.
A new report commissioned by MIT finds that new forms of collaboration and risk sharing can allow firms at every end of the spectrum to grow. Called “Production in the Innovation Economy”, the report, edited by Richard M. Locke and Rachel Wellhausen, asserts that manufacturing should not be perceived as a shrinking traditional sector and industries, but can rather embrace new technologies and new collaborations to evolve and grow.
At the event, GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt, exclaimed the pressing need to change this archaic perception of factory work among young students. Parents, teachers, and guidance councilors alike had to be on-board too. Results from a recent survey showed that only 3 out of 10 parents supported a manufacturing career for their children. Without greater parental support, the hurdle to attract students to a STEM career path (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) would become insurmountable, especially among the emerging, young Latino population who tend to be family centric. Alcoa’s VP of Human Resources, Natalie Shilling, noted that children’s long-term interests in STEM subjects tend to drop off significantly during the 6th grade level. In response Alcoa has partnered with local schools to sponsor science fairs and family factory visits but expressed concern that their ‘grassroots’ efforts may be insufficient. Like GE, they also see the urgent need for a formalized regulatory framework backed by sound government policies.
The president of the Jones County economic development authority recounts the collaboration behind establishing a technology park that brought jobs and innovation to the community: ““Build it and they will come” was the mantra when Jones County, Mississippi purchased just over 500 acres of land in Ellisville, MS on which was constructed Howard Technology Park, that eventually led to a momentous July 2011 announcement by GE Aviation CEO David Joyce.”
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