When considering expansion opportunities for next-generation aircraft technology in 2014, GE opted to grow its West Jefferson, NC facility. GE’s choice to invest $65 million in the 80,000 square foot expansion of the West Jefferson facility to grow its machining work for jet engines was in part due to a partnership with Wilkes Community College (WCC) to create a customized local training program to prepare for the growing production needs.
The Golden LEAF Foundation, working with other government and economic development organizations for the state and Western North Carolina, supported WCC with just under $200,000 to equip the training program as well as supply equipment for Ashe County High School, the local school, to build a pipeline of students to train and ultimately qualify for the jobs at GE.
Since this investment by the Foundation, nearly 250 people have completed pre-hire training with over 60 graduates of the applied engineering technology program. In addition, the pipeline from the high school is growing, and incumbent GE workers at the facility continue to complete skills training programming expanding and modernizing their skill sets and marketability for future jobs.
The Golden LEAF Foundation’s allocation for this project has helped support more than one hundred jobs with strong salaries – and an increased annual payroll of more than three and a half million dollars.
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