Louisville Ky Mayor Fischer’s remarks about GE sell

GE Zoneline

For details on the sale, see story here.

Delivered at 9 a.m. Friday, January 15, 2016 at Metro Hall

In 1951 — in an area of our city that was largely green fields — construction began on a massive business park that would help define Louisville’s economy and, by extension, the American economy, for the next eight decades.

General Electric, the great American brand that traces its roots to the late 1800s and inventor Thomas Edison, built a mammoth manufacturing hub on 1,000 acres. Its name — Appliance Park — reflected the products to be built there, and it was so large that it has its own ZIP code, 40225, and its own neighborhood, called Rangeland, where many employees lived.

For the next eight decades, with 25,000 full-time employees at its peak, the hard-working men and women of Louisville built dishwashers, stoves, dryers and many other household and industrial appliances. The names are iconic: Hotpoint, GE Profile and GE Monogram, among others.

GEAPP

Today, the story of GE and its innovation and ingenuity begins a new global chapter – as Haier, of China, has announced it will purchase GE.

This has significant – and very good — implications for our city.

Haier not only brings global scale and growth opportunity to GE Appliances, but we also keep the headquarters and existing great leadership and full complement of employees in Louisville.

Let me repeat that important note: We get to keep the headquarters and employees.

And that local GE team is exemplary — from FirstBuild, its innovative microfactory for research and development, to its recovery from a massive fire last Spring, and its growth in new products and financial performance.

Haier’s proven track record of innovation, paired with GE’s stable of new products and innovation pipeline, creates a company that is now the envy of the global appliance industry.

I’ve been in regular contact with Chip Blankenship, president and CEO of GE Appliances & Lighting, and in sharing this news yesterday he assured me that Haier sees value in GE Appliances — quality, innovation, a strong team — and is very committed to the U.S.

Our economic development team, Louisville Forward, has been communicating with Haier since for the last month, and will continue to do so.

Haier currently has little presence in the United States and want to grow here.

That’s good news for city, for the leadership team at Appliance Park and for GE’s dedicated 6,000 employees.

Haier is headquartered in Qingdao, China. It designs, develops, manufactures and sells products including air conditioners, computers, microwave ovens, washing machines, refrigerators and televisions – and its brand is as classic in China as GE has been in America.

Haier traces its roots to the 1920s, when it opened as a refrigerator company to build products for the Chinese.

The pairing of Haier and GE is a near perfect match in today’s global, competitive economy. Companies need global scale to stay competitive.

Asian manufacturers are investing in the U.S. ($450B since 2012), which is a big part of the U.S. manufacturing renaissance. And GE Appliances is a complementary acquisition for Haier, unlike a previous suitor, Electrolux, where there was overlap.

Haier, a global appliances leader with global revenues of $32.6 billion, was drawn by GE

Appliances’ brand, products, people and capabilities and is committed to investing here for

continued growth and leadership in the U.S. market.

Haier is a global company with a local focus, which drives its “zero distance to the consumer” approach to product development. They achieve this with location operations and empowered local leadership delivering products and services that respond to the needs of consumers in that market.

A key challenge for our city is to ensure that we continue to provide a quality workforce that shows Haier — and others —  that our city has the workers of today and the future.

Training is critical to remaining competitive and relevant in the global marketplace.

That’s why we worked with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray to create the BEAM partnership.

That’s why we worked with private manufacturing employers, the state and Jefferson Community & Technical College to create the FAME manufacturing partnership, training the workers of tomorrow.

That’s why we created the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center with KentuckianaWorks.

And that’s why we created the Certified Production Training program at that center — to help people get the skills necessary to get in the door at GE and other manufacturers.

We know that we need to continue to increase our workforce pipeline to grow our manufacturing base in Louisville.  More than 75,000 people in our region work in manufacturing, with an average annual wage of almost $70,000.  Whether it’s adding a new line at Appliance Park, helping a new supplier to start up in our city, or merely supporting the existing good paying jobs we have, we have to increase our commitment.

Now is the time to further invest in the future of our manufacturing economy.

Because of all the work Metro Government and its many partners have done the last five years, and because of the commitment of local manufacturers to anticipate their workforce needs of the future, I feel extremely confident in Louisville’s economy and its future.

And, I feel very good about our city’s newest corporate citizens, Haier.

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