WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - GE Aviation officials said Wednesday that a $100 million jet engine manufacturing factory that it's building in Lafayette will be a key in producing its new-generation engine for passenger airliners.
The company already has orders for more than 6,000 of its new LEAP engine that's now undergoing development testing and will have its final assembly at the Lafayette factory, said David Joyce, the president and CEO of GE Aviation.
"So we're kind of in a hurry," he said. "With that backlog in sales, we've got to move fast so we hope to break ground this year in Lafayette. We hope to hire in 2015."
The company expects the factory will open in 2016 in a Lafayette industrial park and have more than 200 workers within five years. The new engine will be used by passenger jets built by Airbus, Boeing and Chinese company Comac for airlines worldwide, according to GE Aviation, which is based in suburban Cincinnati.
Joyce stood before one of the engines as he spoke from a stage at the Purdue University Airport during the announcement ceremony with Gov. Mike Pence and several local officials. He pointed to the long ties between Purdue and parent company General Electric Co., which he said had more than 1,200 Purdue graduates among its employees.
Joyce said Lafayette beat out several other communities in an aggressive competition for the factory.
"If this facility works the way any of our others, we'll be knocking down one of the walls shortly and adding on," he said.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. said it offered the company up to $3.6 million in tax credits and training grants based on its hiring plans. The state also will pay for about $1.3 million in infrastructure improvements.
The new engine is expected to have a 15 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over current engines along with being quieter and having lower emissions, the company said.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said he was proud that a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility would be coming to the city about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
"The Lafayette plant will be at the forefront of aviation technology," he said. "It will put us on the map in a new and different and very important way."