GE Aviation announced it will expand its current Buncombe County operations with an investment of $105 million. The investments in new technology, machinery, and equipment will add 131 new positions to its current workforce. The expansion was announced on March 1 in conjunction with the Buncombe County Commission, City Council of Asheville, and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County. “GE Aviation has a 75-year legacy as a leading employer in Buncombe County and we applaud its continued investment in technology, innovation, and people,” said County Chairman Brownie Newman, who was representing the entire 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.”
Officials with GE Aviation state the new jobs will pay 30 percent above Buncombe County’s average wage, 29 of those jobs will have an average salary of $90,000 and a planned 102 jobs will pay $16 per hour. GE Aviation’s Asheville plant was the company’s first site to mass produce Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC) components for jet engines and the additional investment will accommodate increased local production for CMC, among other things. The expansion is possible, in part, due to Buncombe County’s commitment to award grants in the amount of $685,000 in consideration of GE’s pledge to hit its promised new jobs and investments benchmarks. Those grants will be paid out in three installments, starting in 2022, after an independent audit verifies the job salary and investment numbers have been met.
The announcement was made alongside Asheville City Council, state legislators from Buncombe County, and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who noted, “We are in a race with innovation and we have to get our workforce ready.” The Governor also stressed the need to increase access to early childhood education and prepare students for the modern workforce. Those goals align with the County Commissioners' strategic priorities as they are actively working to expand access to preschool offerings while working with A-B Tech on ways to train the community for existing job opportunities. County Commissioners Joe Belcher and Al Whitesides, along with County Manager Mandy Stone were also on hand for the announcement.
Ultimately, the expansion will allow GE Aviation to grow its operation while expanding the County’s property tax base and job opportunities. “Buncombe County is a great place to visit, but it’s our responsibility to make it a great place to work and raise a family, and to help provide jobs to lead to this...so today is a great day,” said Newman. “It will increase wages in the local workforce, create new jobs, and create new engines that are environmentally friendly.”
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