GE Appliances plans to invest $115 million in an expansion of its refrigerator manufacturing plant in Decatur that will add 255 full-time jobs, with annual average wages of $30,600, not including benefits, the company said.
The investment will allow GE Appliances to increase the plant’s production capacity by 25 percent, said Greg Canfield, state Department of Commerce secretary. The announcement was made Friday morning at the company’s plant on Point Mallard Drive Southeast, in a cafeteria filled with cheering employees.
The plant is the “highest-volume GE Appliances refrigerator plant,” producing GE and Hotpoint brand products, he said
Plant manager Renee Story, who’s been with GE Appliances for 22 years, said the plant consistently produces more than 1 million top-mounted freezer refrigerators a year, and has weathered downturns in the economy since opening in 1977.
The investment provides greater flexibility at the plant to meet customer demands and “makes the plant’s future more secure,” she said. “We won’t take this investment lightly.”
GE Appliances became a Haier company two years ago.
According to a summary of Haier’s application for tax abatements, the annual average wage for the new jobs is $30,600 a year, not including benefits.
There are 993 full-time employees employed by Haier in Decatur, with an annual payroll of $58.5 million, not including benefits, according to the document. There are also about 320 contract labor personnel on site, with an annual payroll of $7.7 million, not including benefits.
“This industry is hyper competitive,” said Bill Good, vice president, supply chain network with GE Appliances, and a former Decatur plant manager. “To be successful, you have to be the best at what you do. That’s why we continue to invest.”
The company invested $120 million in the plant in 2012.
GE Appliances is the “fastest-growing appliance maker in the United States,” Good said before the announcement.
Canfield said the move is the company’s latest step to fulfill its strategic goal of becoming the leading appliance business in the country.
He said about 40,000 square feet will be added to the plant and cutting-edge equipment acquired to enable the plant to transition to “a fully interconnected digital factory.”
Construction of the project is expected to begin July 19 and be completed by April 1, 2020, according to the company.
GE Appliances’ Decatur plant is the largest industrial employer in Morgan County and conducts about $95 million in business with suppliers across Alabama, the company said. With the investment, over the next five years, the Decatur operation’s economic impact is expected to increase by an additional $2.2 billion, according to GE Appliances.
Before the announcement, Decatur’s Industrial Development Board approved the abatement of about $311,400 a year for a 10-year period in state, Morgan County and Decatur non-educational real and personal property taxes.
Of the taxes abated each year, there will be about $92,000 in city of Decatur general fund taxes abated, according to a summary of Haier’s application for tax abatements. Of the total tax abated each year, there will be about $165,600 in Morgan County general fund and road and bridge fund taxes abated, according to the document.
The project is expected to generate new state, county and city real and personal property school tax revenue of about $383,500 a year for the 10-year period. The Decatur school system will receive about $288,500 a year in education property tax revenue during the abatement period. Morgan County sales and use tax revenue generated only during the capital investment period is estimated at $590,000, which will benefit the Decatur, Hartselle and Morgan County school districts, according to the document.
The abated city of Decatur sales and use taxes requested only during the capital investment period are estimated at about $1.77 million, the document said. The estimated amount of city of Decatur sales and use taxes created only during the capital investment period are $590,100, which will benefit Decatur schools, according to the summary.
The abated state sales and use taxes requested only during the capital investment period are estimated at about $2.36 million, the document noted.