GE Aviation announced that it will invest nearly $105 million and add a total of 146 jobs to its manufacturing facilities in Buncombe and Ashe counties in Western North Carolina. Gov. Roy Cooper made the announcement Thursday morning before a group of state and local officials gathered at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce’s offices in Asheville.
The company is increasing the production of ceramic matrix composite jet engine components. GE Aviation’s Asheville plant, opened in 2014, was the company’s first site to mass produce CMC components for jet engines. The ceramic components, which are lighter and stronger than conventional materials, enhance engine performance and offer lower fuel and maintenance costs, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The intrinsic heat resistance and light weight properties of CMC components manufactured in Asheville have contributed to an estimated $150 billion industrial backlog for GE engines worldwide with demand anticipated to increase tenfold over the next decade, according to a press release from Buncombe County economic development officials. 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 percent, resulting in annual fuel savings of over $1 million per plane, according to the release.
GE Aviation employs more than 1,700 people in North Carolina. Of the 146 new positions, 15 will go to Ashe County and 131 to Buncombe County.
“North Carolina welcomes innovators who drive our economy forward,” Governor Cooper said. “GE Aviation and their North Carolina employees have a long history of accomplishment in our state and this expansion will put even more people to work building the next generation of innovative products for the aerospace industry.”
Here’s more from the state:
“We are very pleased to continue expanding our GE Aviation business in Asheville,” said Michael Meguiar, Asheville Plant Leader. “We continue to build on a great workforce, culture and community that supports advanced manufacturing jobs in Western North Carolina. This merging of technology and a strong, creative workforce is the foundation of our success. Our site continues to grow as we win components for our next generation of engines such as the GE9X and the CFM LEAP. I’m very proud of the technology advances and the continued competitiveness that our teams have been able to demonstrate.”
Salaries for the new jobs will vary by position but will average $48,214, well over the average wage of $39,192 in Buncombe County or the average wage of $31,705 in Ashe County.
A performance-based grant of $558,700 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate GE Aviation’s expansion in North Carolina. The One N.C. Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.
In addition to North Carolina Commerce and the Economic Partnership of North Carolina, other key partners in the project include the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Buncombe County, Ashe County, the City of Asheville, Ashe County Economic Development, and the Economic Development Coalition of Ashville and Buncombe County.
And here’s more from Buncombe County officials:
“GE Aviation has a 75-year legacy as a leading employer in Buncombe County and we applaud their continued investment in technology, innovation and people,” said Brownie Newman, Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. “The expansion will not only mean hundreds of jobs for our citizens, but also positions our state and community as a leader in the aerospace industry.”
The Composites Training Center of Excellence at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (ABTECH) has been a strategic training partner for GE Aviation for the past 4 years and continues to expand and prepare the next generation of advanced manufacturing technicians in the field. In addition, GE Aviation partners with local high school, machining apprenticeship programs that provide students the opportunity to develop a skilled trade and career in the high-growth aviation industry. For more information on GE Aviation and employment opportunities, please visit www.geaviation.com.
The EDC for Asheville-Buncombe County is a public-private partnership committed to creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions. The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurship, research, and marketing and recruitment. The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign.