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GE picks Alabama as site for jet engine components plant

GE Aviation will create an environmental coatings facility for advanced military jet engine components in Alabama.

Gov. Bob Riley, GE Aviation President and CEO David Joyce, and Alabama Development Office officials made the announcement Wednesday during a ceremony in the Alabama State Capital.

GE Aviation, a GE operating unit based in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a world-leading provider of commercial and military jet engines and components as well as integrated digital, electric power and mechanical systems for aircraft.

No location was announced for the project, but lawmakers from Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Lee and Macon counties were at the announcement Wednesday. State officials said GE Aviation is in the final stages of selecting a location for creating an environmental coatings center of excellence. The center will enhance components for the GE Rolls-Royce F136 jet engine for the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 program.

The JSF F-35, the largest military procurement in U.S. history, is a multi-role aircraft to replace numerous tactical fighter aircraft flying today. Potential F-35 production for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers is expected to reach more than 5,000 aircraft over 30 years.

GE Aviation’s new Alabama facility, which will be approximately 200,000 square feet, is expected to open in the 2011-2012 timeframe to support an initial F136 production beginning in 2013. The facility is expected to employ 300-400 people when the engine ramps up to full rate production later this decade.

“We are deeply gratified by the tremendous support received from Gov. Bob Riley and his whole team at the ADO,” Joyce said. “The F136 engine is a very long-term program, with production anticipated for decades. We are thrilled to make Alabama part of our advanced technology network, and to commit to high-technology jobs for the state.”

“Alabama welcomes GE Aviation and the high-tech jobs it is bringing to our state with this new facility,” Riley said. “This is a project we have aggressively pursued and we’re proud this prestigious international company is coming to Alabama. Our state is seeing amazing growth in aviation and aerospace jobs and it’s great to see this progress is continuing.”

GE has 1,600 employees in Alabama through its GE Enterprise Solutions operation in Huntsville and GE appliances plant in Decatur.