The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
Last week our Business and Industry Roundtable group took a special tour at GE Aviation. Mark Sieber, plant leader for the Yakima facility, welcomed our attendees and provided an overview of GE's local activities. The company has 300 local employees and the plant does about $90 million in business each year. Mark explained that the local facility traces back to the 1940s when the Decoto brothers started making parts for Boeing. The company has been through several owners over time and GE Aviation purchased the facility five years ago.
The company's employment has fluctuated from 200 to 360 over the last decade. The Yakima plan hit a low point after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Employment has increased steadily over the past few years, as the company benefits from growth in the aerospace sector.
The facility tours allowed our group to see how big parts are machined and how the smallest components are assembled. Along the way we all saw how GE's parts are tested and examined rigorously. Maintaining quality control in the aerospace industry requires constant vigilance – the smallest parts and processes are documented carefully.
We are very fortunate to have GE Aviation in Yakima. The company purchases thousands of dollars worth or goods and services from local businesses. GE also employs a highly skilled workforce that spends a lot of their hard earned dough locally. These impacts stack up - a manufacturer like GE supports hundreds of other jobs in Yakima.
GE is also our biggest and most visible aerospace company. We relish the fact that GE is doing well in Yakima. They are a great community booster and give us confidence that other advanced manufacturing firms can thrive in our Valley.