General Electric Begins Manufacturing New Hybrid Water Heater in Appliance Park

by Devin Katayama on February 10, 2012

General Electric is trying to reverse decades of outsourcing by doing something it hasn’t done in over 50 years, opening a new manufacturing operation in Louisville.

China is where earlier versions of the GeoSpring Water Heater were manufactured. But Louisville’s Appliance Park has since advanced, and will now build the new energy-efficient hybrid GeoSpring.

“The product was designed, engineered and assembled right here in Louisville. The previous generation of GeoSpring was made overseas and we actually brought that manufacturing back here to Louisville,” said Steve Downer, a general manager at Louisville’s Appliance Park.

GE’s $800 million commitment to the plant is part of the company’s larger $1 billion commitment in 2009 to bring 1,400 jobs to the United States by 2014; for Louisville’s Appliance Park, this means 1,000 jobs.

The facility currently has around 4,000 employees and has recently added 100 new workers to build the new model of water heater.

“Any future expansions and employees will be driven by market adoption and how well this thing performs,” said Downer.

State and local governments have offered GE $17 million in tax incentives, based on performance goals the company must meet. Employees will start at $13 an hour, which is significantly less than current employees make, but Downer said that was part of the agreement to develop locally.

GE is also investing in its Bloomington, Indiana and Decatur, Georgia facilities.

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