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Volume 87 Issue 27 | p. 11 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 6, 2009

Materials Engineering

GE taps Detroit-area talent for a new manufacturing R&D center
Department: Business
Keywords: General Electric, Jennifer M. Granholm, Advanced Manufacturing & Software Technology Center

General Electric will build a $100 million Advanced Manufacturing & Software Technology Center that will employ 1,100 scientists, engineers, and technology experts near Detroit. The facility will develop technologies and materials for renewable energy generation and other high-tech products.

“To lead in technology and create high-value jobs in the U.S., we must invest in technology and people,” GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt said at a press conference where he was joined by Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm. The governor emphasized the state’s effort to diversify its economy in the wake of the auto industry’s recent collapse.

GE’s decision is “a no-brainer,” says Noel M. Tichy, professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan. “Look at where you are in the country—all the manufacturing in a short perimeter of Detroit,” he says. “The auto industry, crippled as it is, is near there, and there is the workforce, which is underemployed to say the least.”

The Michigan facility will move research done at GE’s Niskayuna, N.Y., R&D center and elsewhere into large-scale development. It will be part of a global R&D infrastructure with major facilities in Europe, India, and China, notes Tichy, who headed GE’s Leadership Institute in the 1980s.

Michigan’s colleges will be a formidable resource for GE, adds Charles Ballard, an economics professor at Michigan State University. “We are unusual compared to many states,” he says, “in terms of the number of people with degrees in hard sciences coming out of our universities.”

Michigan is providing $60 million in incentives over the next 12 years to support the center, which is scheduled to open later this year.

 
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