Yesterday Vice President Biden travelled to Louisville, Kentucky where he visited the headquarters of GE Appliances to discuss how Recovery Act investments are creating jobs and laying a new foundation for long-term economic growth in the state.
Appliance Park is a huge industrial campus, covering more than 900 acres, employing 3,600 people, and producing approximately 3 million units a year. You can tell that people in the community take pride in the company and the products that it makes.
We saw it firsthand when we walked into Building 3, where they manufacture energy efficient dishwashers. The manufacturing floor was still hot from recent production and enthusiastic GE employees in their matching red and blue shirts filled the room to welcome Vice President Biden and share the good news about how business is doing. People were excited and undeniably optimistic.
It’s hard to imagine that in 2008 GE Appliances was up for sale and facing a financial crisis. For many workers, the future was uncertain. And yet, less than two years later, GE has experienced a dramatic turnaround thanks to their innovative spirit, local, state, and federal support, and a strengthened partnership with the union.
GE is now investing $600 million to expand manufacturing production at Appliance Park. The investment is supported by $24.8 million in 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits that GE received under the Recovery Act to retrofit and re-tool the Appliance Park facility for the manufacturing of three energy-efficient product lines: dishwashers, clothes dryers, water heaters. With the addition of the three new product lines, they plan to add over 800 new jobs through 2013.
And these product lines are state-of-art: the water heater uses 62 percent less energy than conventional water heaters and saves the average family $320 a year. It’s also the first new product line manufactured at Appliance Park in 50 years.
The Recovery Act also included consumer incentives for energy efficient appliances, and these rebates have boosted sales of high efficiency appliances. Sales of the dishwashers being built in Building 3 have increased by 20 percent as a result of the Recovery Act consumer rebates. And sales of the clothes washers manufactured in Building 1 are up more than 100 percent. GE even had to add a second shift and hire 137 new employees to handle the increased demand.
Nichelle Thomas, one of the employees who works on the clothes washer line, introduced the Vice President. As the single mom of a six year old boy, Nichelle spoke about the importance of not just having a job, but having confidence that she’ll be able to keep that job.
Summing it all up, Vice President Biden told the crowd: “I don’t see it written anywhere that we can’t be a manufacturing nation anymore. I don’t see it written anywhere that our nation’s – or Kentucky’s – best days are behind us. I don’t see it written anywhere that America has to settle for #2.”
If anyone knows that firsthand, it’s the men and women working in Building 3.
Annie Maxwell is a White House Fellow in the Office of the Vice President