GE Aviation announces Lafayette facility, creating 200 new jobs

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – GE Aviation, the world’s largest jet engine manufacturer, made an official announcement Wednesday of the company’s plans to build a new $100 million jet engine assembly facility in Lafayette, creating up to 200 new jobs by 2020.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence joined David Joyce, president and chief executive officer of GE Aviation, Wednesday at the Purdue University Airport for the announcement ceremony. Pence said in a news release that Indiana is charting a path forward. 

“Indiana is a manufacturing state, with decades of experience in building the items that power our world. But we are also a state of innovation, developing the technologies of tomorrow. GE Aviation’s plans in Indiana fuse the two,” said Pence. “By selecting Indiana for its new jet engine facility, the company gains a workforce skilled at both developing the big ideas and bringing them to life. From jet engines to medical breakthroughs, companies launch the next wave of new technologies in Indiana, confident that in a state that works, the sky is the limit.”

The Lafayette facility will be the company’s first final assembly plant in Indiana. The 225,000 square-foot plant will assemble the new LEAP, or Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion, engine. GE Aviation said it has already logged total orders and commitments with airlines for more than 6,000 LEAP jet engines, which will power new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX and COMAC (China) C919 aircrafts worldwide.

GE Aviation officials said the company could begin hiring at the new Lafayette facility as early as 2015. They said within five years, the plant’s workforce is expected to exceed 200 people. The new jobs are expected to pay an average wage of $36 an hour, which includes both hourly and salaried positions.

Joyce told News 18 in a press release that the company is thrilled by the airline industry’s enthusiasm for the new LEAP engine and its ground-breaking technologies.

“Beginning in 2015, the LEAP engine will experience a dramatic production ramp-up for the remainder of the decade. We are grateful to the entire Indiana team in ensuring that our Lafayette assembly plant will soon be up and running,” said Joyce.

Final assembly of the LEAP engine at the Lafayette facility will involve using components and sub-assemblies from GE and Snecma operations, as well as from their suppliers around the world.

According the the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, IDEC offered GE Aviation up to $3.3 million in conditional tax credits and up to $332,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. IDEC said these incentives are performance-based, which means until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.

Additionally, the IEDC will provide the community with up to $1.35 million in infrastructure assistance from the state’s Industrial Development Grant Fund. The city of Lafayette and Tippecanoe County will consider additional incentives at the request of the Greater Lafayette Commerce.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski stated in a news release that history is being made Wednesday.

“We are proud to be part of a team that is helping to bring the next generation of commercial aircraft engines for the future of global air transportation. The LEAP engine assembly plant and Lafayette will be at the forefront of aviation engine technology,” said Roswarski. “But just as important for the Lafayette community is the substantial investment GE is making in a state of the art manufacturing facility that will create up to 200 high paying jobs – jobs that comfortably support a family and add to our quality of life – that was a top priority of mine.”

The Lafayette facility will be GE’s fifth location in Indiana. The company employs nearly 1,700 Hoosiers across the state, including Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Terre Haute and Connersville. In addition, GE spends more than $440 million with suppliers in Indiana, helping support 1,500 supplier jobs in the state.

Tippecanoe County Commissioner John Knochel announced the Lafayette location at the press conference. The new facility will reside in Park 350, near Veterans Memorial Parkway and U.S. 52, on Lafayette’s south side.

State Sen. Ron Alting made the following statement in regards to GE Aviation’s decision to build its production facility in Lafayette.

“GE Aviation’s decision to locate their first-ever Indiana production plant in Lafayette is a fantastic opportunity for job growth and economic development,” said Alting. “Our community will continue to foster a partnership with the aviation industry, which has real staying power, to secure a bright future for Tippecanoe County. “

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats praised GE Aviation’s announcement and stated it is great news for Lafayette and the entire state.

“This facility will significantly contribute to the Hoosier economy and bring high-paying jobs to Tippecanoe County. I am thrilled that GE Aviation – a company that has and continues to be a leader in technological innovation – has put its faith in Indiana’s future and our highly-skilled workforce,” said Coats.

U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita said as a fellow aviator he welcomes GE Aviation.

“As an aviator myself, I welcome the aviation industry’s growth in our state. I know GE Aviation to be the high water mark in commercial aviation.  We simply couldn’t ask for a better new neighbor,” said 

State Sen. Brandt Hershman said when employers are looking to relocate or invest in a new area, Indiana truly stands out from its competitors. He said the state has one of the most attractive business climates in the U.S., and our talented workforce offers the kind of employees that companies want to hire.

“Our aviation industry is no exception to these trends. Our state has made significant gains in attracting this type of investment, and the announcement made today indicates that we are on the right track to sustain that growth,” said Hershman. “I believe GE Aviation will especially benefit from the research and development talent at Purdue University, and I look forward to seeing them work together and prosper.”

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