For the last three decades, General Electric has been considered the fount of wisdom in industrial America, although its fabled financial performance has been revealed as an insurance based scam, which allowed it to boost and smooth earnings. GE has also been a noted training ground for the top executives at other companies and a source of endless fascination for pundits and business professors.
People might not listen quite as attentively to Jeffrey Immelt as his fabled predecessor, Jack Welch, but when he showed up in Michigan to announce plans for a new research center near Detroit people did sit up and take notice.
This isn’t a run of the mill technical center staffed with a dozen engineers and couple of IT guys. GE plans to hire 1,100 right at the start for the $100 million project. The company thinks it can grow from there. Most of the new hires will be engineers and PhDs in technical fields, Immelt suggested. In fact, Michigan’s politicians couldn’t believe what they were hearing. “This could have gone anywhere they could have put this in Beijing or Bangalore,” noted Wayne County executive Robert Ficano.
Taxpayers of Michigan are are providing more than $60 million in incentives over the next 12 years to support the center.
Work at the center will focus on development of composites, machining, inspection, casting and coating technologies for GE’s Aviation and Energy businesses, said Immelt.
“The scientists, engineers and technologists that will work and learn at this center will help GE develop innovative new software, processes and technologies to make our manufacturing businesses even more productive and competitive,” Immelt said.