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Incentives Approved For GE Expansion

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has approved an incentives package for General Electric to expand operations at Louisville’s Appliance Park.

The move could create 420 jobs at the facility.

GE says it is considering an expansion of its Louisville operations to include production of energy-efficient appliances, beginning with a hybrid hot water heater.

The state incentives package is worth $10 million.

The Louisville Metro Council has also approved a request for $2.5 million in tax incentives for the same expansion project.

Meanwhile, in a separate action, union workers at Appliance Park voted Wednesday to approve wage concessions requested by the company in exchange for a promise of job security and the addition of 100 new positions.

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GE Union To Vote On Wage Freeze This Week

On Wednesday, union workers at General Electric’s Appliance Park plant will vote on a wage freeze.

In exchange for the freeze on 2100 workers’ salaries, GE says it will hire 100 new workers and keep all product manufacturing in Louisville until June 2011, when the workers’ contracts expire.

Union leaders have declined to comment publicly, but GE spokesperson Kim Freeman says the promises of new workers and job security can’t be made without the wage freeze.

“Considering that we lost $72 million last year, it just wouldn’t make good business sense for us to invest in new a product or bring additional employees into Appliance Park because our cost structure is just too high,” she says.

Freeman says union members seem receptive to the idea. The plant’s 2000 salaried workers have been under a pay rate freeze since 2008.

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General Electric Seeking Wage Freeze At Appliance Park

General Electric is asking union workers at its Appliance Park plant in Louisville to agree to a wage freeze in exchange for job security and other benefits.

If the 21-hundred union workers at Appliance Park approve the freeze, GE says it will add 100 new jobs this year and to not outsource any products until the freeze and union contract expire in June 2011.

GE had previously hoped to spin off its appliance division into another company. Spokesperson Kim Freeman says that’s still possible, but the wage freeze is necessary to keep the plant in operation for the immediate future.

“If the company does decide to sell or to spin us off, it doesn’t really matter,” she says. “We have got to make Appliance Park more competitive so that we can be here regardless of what happens in the future. We need to secure our long-term future here by making ourselves more competitive.”

Appliance Park lost $72 million last year. Union leaders declined to comment on the negotiations, but Freeman says the workers seem receptive to the idea.

“They understand that they’re really voting on the future of Appliance Park,” she says. “We need to do everything we can as quickly as we can to make Appliance Park more competitive for our long-term future.”

The union will vote on the measure Wednesday.

Salaried workers at the plant have already had their pay rates frozen.

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Mayor: GE Spinoff Could Take Up To One Year

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson says local and state officials continue working to keep the new version of General Electric’s Consumer and Industrial operation at the city’s Appliance Park.

GE announced this year that it would likely spin off the Louisville-based operation into a separate, stockholder-owned company. Abramson says government officials are doing all they can to insure that the company–with its thousands of jobs—will continue to call Louisville home.

“We are working with their personnel as they develop this stand-alone entity.   There are a lot of other issues that come into play that we can help on than when they were a part of General Electric Worldwide.    So there will be incentives, there will be training assistance as they bring on new lines or new investments,” Abramson said.

The mayor predicts it will take up to a year for GE to clear all the necessary regulatory hurdles to complete the spinoff.

He spoke Wednesday on WFPL’s “State of Affairs” program.