By Boros Ladwig
GE Appliances will move hotel air-conditioner production from Louisville to Tennessee -- in part because of greater economic incentives there.
The company previously had announced that it would cease AC production in Louisville, but had not yet identified a new location.
GEA's sister company, Monogram, will invest $9.3 million and create 210 jobs in Selmer, Tenn., to expand manufacturing of its high-end refrigerators and to begin hotel AC production there in 2018, according to a company official and the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.
GEA had said in July that it would move the AC line out of Appliance Park's Building 2 to make room for parts supplier Derby Supply Chain Solutions, which was forced out of the park by a warehouse fire and has been trucking in parts from Shepherdsville.
The company said that the actions were needed to return the park to profitability and that no jobs would be lost because the 140 workers on the AC line would be placed in other positions in the park. The union had tried to fight the move, and a union leader said that the action eventually would reduce employment at the campus. AC production in Louisville is expected to cease late this year or early next.
Kim Freeman, spokeswoman for GEA, told Insider Tuesday that the company chose Selmer in part because of the incentives provided by Tennessee and McNair County governments and because of the facility's expertise in refrigeration technology that could be leveraged for the AC production.
The project in Selmer will include a 120,000-square-foot expansion, but Freeman said the company did not own the building and would not have to pay for the expansion -- whereas, building a facility in Louisville would have cost $13 million -- on top of product-related expenses.
Louisville and Kentucky "acknowledged that they do not have programs or funding sources that would have provided the more than $13 million needed to begin and complete construction of an on-site facility in time for 2018 production," Freeman said.
install them hidden in plain sight. | Courtesy of GE Appliances
"The cost of building or expanding was just not feasible," she said of Appliance Park.
Jack Mazurak, a spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, said via email that the state "does not have existing incentive programs that directly pay for large-scale corporate investments."
Nonetheless, he said, the KCED looks forward "to continuing our relationship and working closely with the company on projects in the future."
The city, IUE-CWA and officials in Tennessee could not be immediately reached Tuesday.
Freeman said that the $9.3 million investment also would allow Monogram to manufacture its latest refrigerator/freezer design, which separates the units into what the company calls "columns" to allow homeowners to install them "hidden in plain sight," because they look like kitchen cabinets.