Cites access to EDC for the move from Wisconsin, which will impact 350 workers.
September 28, 2015
by PLANT STAFF
FAIRFIELD, CONN. — In a rare case of plant investment location turnaround, GE Power & Water plans to stop manufacturing gas engines in Waukesha, Wis. and open a new $265 million plant in Canada.
The global, industrial company is attributing the move that will put about 350 Wisconsin workers out of work to its need for access to Export Development Canada (EDC), the country’s export credit agency, but more pointedly, to the absence of an export credit agency (ECA) in the US.
General Electric Co. currently employs 350 at its manufacturing facility in Waukesha, building gas engines for compression, mechanical drive and power generation applications. It has notified employees in Waukesha and more than 400 US suppliers that generate almost $47 million in revenue from the plant.
The company hasn’t revealed where the flexible production facility will be located, but it said the state-of-the-art “Brilliant Factory” in Canada will optimize efficiency and streamline production using data, analytics and software. The factory is to be completed in 20 months and will expand over time, also supporting manufacturing requirements for other GE businesses. And it will have back-up capacity to manufacture diesel engine components for GE Transportation.
GE cited its strong relationship with EDC, a relationship that is expected to expand in support of its Power & Water, Oil & Gas and Transportation businesses. The company is currently bidding on $11 billion of projects that require export financing.
It also noted in a press release more than 60 other countries have export credit agencies (ECA) that support domestic manufacturing for export, while the US “remains the only major economy in the world without an export bank.”
The authorization for the US export credit agency – the Export-Import Bank, or Ex-Im – lapsed on July 1. GE said for the last year, exporters and suppliers have called upon Congress to reauthorize the US Export-Import Bank to support manufacturing jobs “and level the playing field for US companies that compete globally.”
“We believe in American manufacturing, but our customers in many cases require ECA financing for us to bid on projects. Without it, we cannot compete and our customers may be forced to select other providers,” said John Rice, GE’s vice-chairman in a statement.
Rice acknowledged the impact the move will have on its employees and hundreds of suppliers that can’t move their facilities, but said GE can’t “walk away from our customers. EDC joins a growing list of export credit agencies interested in supporting GE’s global business operations and customer base.”