GE Appliances, a unit of Chinese appliance maker Haier, announced Tuesday that it will invest more than $118 million to expand its factory in northwest Georgia, hiring 600 additional workers by the end of 2024.
Spokesperson Julie Wood said the company needs to expand because of increased demand for the electric ranges, wall ovens and gas and electric cooktops it makes at the Walker County facility.
"Consumers continue to be at home cooking and using their appliances more, and we don’t see that trend changing — especially as more people are deciding to work from home permanently," she wrote in an email.
The growth will boost GE Appliances’ employment to more than 2,600 workers at its LaFayette factory, which uses the Roper Corp. name. The company also has another 400 workers combined at a distribution center in Commerce, a logistics facility in Crandall and a factory service dispatch center in Marietta.
The company makes products under the GE, GE Profile, Monogram, and Café brands in LaFayette.
"Investing in U.S. manufacturing allows us to be closer to our consumers and serve them better and faster, which is critical to GE Appliances’ business strategy," Bill Good, vice president of manufacturing for GE Appliances, said in a statement.
GE Appliances announced a $130 million expansion in Georgia in 2019, including $43 million at the LaFayette plant, the $55 million Commerce distribution center, and a $32 million logistics hub in Crandall near the Georgia Ports Authority’s inland rail port in Murray County.
The two rounds of investment are expected to increase the capacity of the LaFayette plant by 50%. Wood said the company will spend to install more robots to automate processes or aid workers, as well as autonomous vehicles to carry materials around the plant.
The company says it’s already hiring for the 600 new jobs, and that new workers will be paid as much as $17.50 an hour when they start.
GE Appliances could claim various tax breaks, including an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $2,500 per job from state income taxes, up to $7.5 million over five years. The company could also get local property tax breaks.
General Electric Co. sold the unit to Haier and an investment firm for $5.6 billion in 2016. The 12,000-employee unit remains based in Louisville, Kentucky, where the company announced a $450 million expansion in October. It also has assembly plants in Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. Haier, based in Qingdao, China, has the rights to use the GE brand name through 2056.