with gallery: General Electric 'reinvestment' in Michigan adds 850 jobs to Van Buren Township
In what was once called a “lofty” goal by critics, General Electric officials announced in a news conference Monday that it has filled nearly 850 of the targeted 1,100 positions at its Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center in Van Buren Township as part of its commitment to bring more jobs to the state of Michigan.
“We’re growing and hundreds of these people work on business activities that take place to support our global operations,” said John Rice, GE vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of Global Growth and Operations. “Today this location is as important to GE’s global commerce as anything we do.”
GE officials said hiring is ahead of schedule at the center with a rate of two new people per day. Nearly 90 percent of the new hires are from Michigan.
“Because of these highly skilled workers and their determination, Michigan offers proof that it can compete and win in the global economy,” Rice said.
Ron Utterbeck, GE’s chief information officer and AMSTC’s director, said the company is dedicated to bringing previously outsourced jobs back to the United States. The center has invested $163 million in the region.
In addition to reinvesting in the state, GE has announced the creation of more than 13,800 new jobs in the United States and 16 new manufacturing facilities in the country.
“When I was here last year in 2010, we were here celebrating the fact that we had 200 people working here since we opened the doors in October of 2009 when the vision for this place was just on a piece of paper,” Rice said. “We’re really excited by how much we’ve grown today.”
The 200,000 square foot facility— which is housed in the old Visteon Village complex— is GE’s largest single-site IT operation and it is primarily used by researchers and IT experts who develop software and data sharing systems that make GE technologies such as wind turbines, jet engines and even household appliances function more efficiently.
The company unveiled innovations in an interactive showcase that included digital pathology, mobile applications for asset management, cloud computing, technology solutions for business insight and aviation thermal barrier coatings.
One innovation worth noting according to officials is the Trip Optimizer which will be utilized by locomotives. The optimizer calculates performance and fuel consumption by calculating the optimum speed of the train based on the size of the load and route. GE is estimating that by using this technology, companies might be able to reduce fuel consumption by about 10 percent.
Utterback said a key thing about the company’s technology is that it encompasses all audiences whether it’s an everyday consumer or a specialized business.
“We try to use modern technology in everything because we want to ensure we can reach all audiences,” Utterback said.
An example of this may be the creation of GE Brillion technology communication capabilities in some household products such as the GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater which will allow consumers to set their water temperature, change modes of operation and place their appliance in “vacation mode.”
The Brillion technology has also been implemented into washers and dryers which will have the ability to respond and adjust based on energy prices and demand response events.
Shawn Eads, a GE IT leader, said these products will be available soon at major stores such as Lowe's.
“These products are state of the art,” Eads said. “We are ultimately saving energy and enabling consumers to do a lot more.”
Rice noted the company is also heavily focused on community efforts and issues. Rice said GE has provided more than $1.3 million in community grants and has donated $1.2 million to improve access to healthcare for under-served populations.
Monday, the GE Foundation donated a total of $500,000 in grants to The Wellness Plan Medical Systems and the Community Health and Social Services Southwest Center— each center will receive $250,000.
“In living rooms and offices around the country, the topic of healthcare in the United States has been the subject of considerable debate and discussion,” Rice said. “The problems are significant and the solutions are wide ranging and we think that GE has a unique vantage point. As an employer, we’re also an enormous purchaser of health care and coverage, spending almost $3 billion to provide health care for our active employees and retirees.”
Charlene Begley, president and CEO of GE Home and Business Solutions, said that it is estimated 1.7 million Michigan residents lack access to primary health care because of a variety of barriers.
“We recognize the need for health care is real,” Begley said. ‘Through these grants, GE aims to bring increased access to primary care for under-served populations."