In GE Aviation’s decision to build new plant in Asheville, Delaware gets outbid


The mysterious “Project X” in Asheville was revealed to be a new GE Aviation manufacturing plant. It’s one that Delaware thought it had a lock on. From

Delaware has been outbid for a GE Aviation manufacturing facility the company has decided to build in North Carolina, as the company seeks to build more jet engine parts using ceramic composites.

GE Aviation has a research-and-development facility in Newark, which makes such jet engine parts in high-pressure, high-heat furnaces. The state of Delaware recently invested $1.1 million, and GE pledged $27 million in capital upgrades, to the facility at 400 Bellevue Road.

But despite the efforts of Delaware officials, GE Aviation opted to invest $195 million across its North Carolina operations through 2017, as it breaks ground this year on a parts factory next to an existing machining plant in Asheville. Within five years, the workforce at the new factory could grow as high as 340.

GE Aviation “went to a number of states with the proposal and determined that the best option was the Asheville, N.C. location,” said Jeffrey Wessels, plant manager in Newark. He described it as a “repurposing of a site with a known strong workforce which would likely have been looking at layoffs without this.”

The Delaware Office of Economic Development made a bid for the factory at the same time it bid for the research-and-development upgrade that Delaware ended up getting, said Alan Levin, DEDO director.

For the factory, Delaware had offered a package of $1.9 million in grants, and $1.5 million in capital incentives, tied to 400 jobs and construction of the manufacturing building, Levin said. In North Carolina, GE was able to repurpose one of its own existing factories, which was an advantage, Levin said.

“We’d like the whole thing, but we got a portion of it,” he said, referring to the research and development.

Buncombe County, N.C., and the city of Asheville approved just more than $4 million in cash incentives over the next 10 years for the GE Aviation expansion. State incentives also are pending, but have not been disclosed. Smaller incentives were extended by two other counties where small improvements will be made near Durham and Wilmington.